Cherophobia Creates Anxiety While You Wait For The Other Shoe To Drop
We all want to be happy and many of us search for happiness in the things we do. We want to have satisfying romantic relationships, a successful career and a nice home. The pursuit of happiness, in fact, is the central focus of the self-help industry where it tries to inform and instruct people in the ways of experiencing a blissful existence. While most people actively pursue happiness, there are many who fear it. These individuals have a happiness phobia called ‘cherophobia’.
We have all had moments when something happens and it seems too good to be true. Often, a part of us waits for the other shoe to drop which will unceremoniously take away all the blessings we have gained. Some people have embraced this notion, taken their fear of happiness to an extreme and actively avoid feelings that make them feel good.
What is Cherophobia
Cherophobia is the fear of being happy. There currently is no diagnostic criteria for this condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5)but some medical experts identify cherophobia as an anxiety disorder. The anxiety sufferers encounter stems from the irrational belief that if something good happens it is likely to be followed by some kind of adverse event. This leaves them scared to feel feelings of happiness.
People who suffer from cherophobia often avoid feelings of happiness because the are afraid of the potential consequences they may experience. In essence, these individuals are too frightened to participate in anything that is fun, carefree and joy producing. Something terrible will happen to them if they do.
It is not that they are afraid of the activities or are necessarily fearful of experiencing pleasant feelings. They are far and away more concerned with the possible negative effects these situations can bring, which will cause the enjoyable feelings to end. Thus they reject happiness because to them these feelings are always accompanied with feelings of sadness, disappointment and loneliness.
The Formation of Cherophobia: Trauma
From an outside perspective, one would think it is a little weird to worry about having a positive emotion such as happiness. One theory suggests that individuals, especially children who repeatedly experience trauma and painful events in their lives, are more likely to develop cherophobia. Their life experience has shown them that any good, positive or happy moment will be swiftly followed by disappointment, punishment, brutality or something upsetting. They, through time and repetition, unconsciously develop a defense mechanism that links pleasure and pain and decide that in order to protect themselves from undesirable feeling it is best to avoid happy ones. This keeps their anxiety and fears to a minimum.
Guilt As A Cause Of Cherophobia
Feelings of guilt may also cause someone to develop cherophobia. They may feel that the pursuit of happiness is a self-centered act which may have a detrimental effect on others. They may also feel undeserving of even the slightest pleasure or joy.
The net result of cherophobia is that these individuals fear or shy away from activities that they bring them. This does not mean that they are walking around sad or depressed all the time. What it does mean is that this condition can ultimately interfere with their ability to live a whole, balanced life.
It is possible to heal cherophobia or at least begin to minimize its impact on your life. The first step in the process is to begin recognizing and becoming mindful of what is triggering you. This process offers you the opportunity to employ different strategies to combat the anxiety producing situation which is ultimately controlling your life.
Practices such as mindfulness, meditation and journaling can also help you to dig into what is going on deep inside as well as help reduce any anxiety you may be feeling. Ultimately, dealing with cherophobia is about changing the way you think about life events. It is about reprogramming your brain from activating a stress response. This can transform you from automatically going to a negative, fearful place inside to one filled with hope and happiness.
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