Cherophobia, a fear of happiness, can be real! Here’s how to overcome it

Are you afraid of being happy? It might be the case of cherophobia, which is a fear of happiness. Here are some ways to overcome the fear of happiness.
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Cherophobia can impact your mental health. Image courtesy: Freepik
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 4 Jan 2024, 05:00 pm IST
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It’s easier to think that people can be afraid of falling into depression or experience sadness. But the truth is that some people can also have a fear of happiness. It is called cherophobia. This is not a recognised mental illness, but it can significantly impact a person’s mental health. A person going through this is not bound to be sad all the time, but may prefer to skip events or activities that could make them happy. In life, positive experiences are important for us, and that’s why there’s a need to fight cherophobia. Read on to find out ways to overcome the fear of happiness.

What is a fear of happiness?

Cherophobia is an irrational fear or aversion to experiencing happiness, says mental health and behavioural science expert Dr Rahul Chandhok. Individuals with this condition may avoid situations or activities that could potentially bring joy, as they may associate happiness with negative outcomes or fear that it won’t last.

happy woman
Some people have a fear of happiness. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

What are the causes of cherophobia?

The causes of cherophobia can be complex and may include:

• Past trauma
• Low self-esteem
• Fear of disappointment

It may also be linked to mood disorders or anxiety disorders, says the expert.

What are the signs of cherophobia?

There are some ways to figure out if someone has a fear of happiness. Here are some signs:

• Avoids celebrations
• Downplays achievements
• Expresses discomfort when praised
• Exhibits a general reluctance to engage in activities that are associated with joy or happiness.

What are the ways to overcome the fear of happiness?

Cherophobia can have a major impact on your mental health, and lead to symptoms of anxiety, depression and an overall diminished quality of life. The avoidance of positive experiences may contribute to social isolation and hinder personal growth. So, overcome the fear of happiness with these tips, according to Dr Chandok.

1. Self-reflection

Understand the root cause of cherophobia. You can do that by introspection or with the help of a therapist.

2. Challenge negative thoughts

First you need to identify the negative thought patterns. Then challenge those patterns that link happiness to negative outcomes.

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3. Gradual exposure

If you have been avoiding events or activities that could bring joy, you shouldn’t immediately jump into them. Gradually expose yourself to situations that bring joy, starting with small, manageable steps, suggests the expert.

4. Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness has many benefits. It can help to make you stay in the present moment. This, in turn, will reduce anxiety that is associated with future concerns.

5. Positive affirmations

Negative self-talk is very easy. You can always find flaws in yourself and focus on them. Replace them with positive affirmations to help you to reshape your mindset.

Smiling woman
Replace negative self-talk with positive affirmations. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

6. Therapy

You might think twice before going to a therapist. But reaching out to therapists who specialise in anxiety or mood disorders can help you to overcome the fear of happiness. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT can help to identify and modify negative thought patterns associated with cherophobia.

7. Social support

Whether you have a small group of friends or a big one. Surround yourself with only supportive friends and family members who encourage positive experiences and are not toxic.

8. Celebrate achievements

Achievements can be related to your work in the office or your romantic relationship. Just acknowledge and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they are.

9. Set realistic expectations

It is good to have expectations and works towards them. But avoid setting overly high expectations for yourself and learn to appreciate your progress.

10. Gratitude practice

Cultivate a habit of gratitude in your daily life. This will help to shift your focus from fear to appreciation for positive experiences, says the expert.

11. Hobbies and enjoyable activities

It can be knitting, cooking, collecting coins from different countries or anything that can make you happy. Engage in hobbies and activities you enjoy, as this will foster a positive association with happiness.

Overcoming cherophobia is a gradual process that may require professional guidance. Combining self-help strategies with therapy can lead to a healthier relationship with happiness and a more fulfilling life.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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