Happiness

I’m getting coaching. My coach is cool. We talk about dragons and stuff. I’m also in the middle of a major life upheaval. This has given me the opportunity to explore and re-evaluate some of my core beliefs.

(Sounds better than “I’m getting slammed in the face by reality so hard that I’m feeling permanently concussed,” doesn’t it?)

One of the things that have emerged out of this fortuitous combination is that I have some really, really messed up beliefs around happiness. They’re not thoughts I willingly entertain: they are part of my original programming, and have been living at the bottom of my brain, buried so deep within the machinery that I couldn’t see them, and quietly fucking shit up for me.

I think, but I’m not sure, that they’re the result of growing up in a profoundly fucked up family. I also think that I’m not special; other people with a similar background may also be infected with the same malware. What I’m going to do here is list the damn things. Scribbling them down seemed to help me. Maybe reading them will help somebody else.

  1. My happiness doesn’t matter. It’s not a metric by which I should judge my life. It’s not something I should strive towards. It’s not something anyone else should care about.
  2. Unhappiness is unnatural / a bad behaviour / a character flaw. If I’m unhappy, I am either doing something wrong or I am wrong. Either way, I deserve to be unhappy, but I also need to stop being unhappy immediately because that’s wrong, which means that I deserve to be unhappy (repeat until no longer funny).
  3. I don’t deserve to be happy. If I’m unhappy, that’s what I deserve. If I am happy, that happiness is bound to be short-lived because it is undeserved, and I’ll be punished for experiencing it.
  4. I need to earn my happiness by being A Good Person or being Good At Things. I cannot gain happiness by simply working towards it.
  5. I am happy/unhappy about the wrong things. If something that makes me happy doesn’t meet X set of pre-established criteria, then that thing is wrong, my happiness is wrong, and I am wrong.
  6. My happiness comes out wrong. For instance, it is too loud, too risky, not suitable to a Good Kid / Nice Lady, blah blah.
  7. I should be happy with what I have, even when what I have does not make me happy. Whatever situation I’m in, I should be able to find happiness within it rather than trying to change it. If I can’t, that’s bad and I should feel bad.
  8. Things that have no purpose but making me happy are a waste of time and resources. I should be happy doing things that have A Worthy Purpose, even if they don’t in fact make me happy. See point 5.
  9. Striving for happiness is selfish/sinful. Good People don’t do that kind of thing, and only Good People deserve to be happy.
  10. Working out what makes me happy is a surefire way of ensuring that I won’t get it. “They”* will find out what I want, take it away from me if I have it, and punish me for wanting it if I don’t.

*No idea at present who “they” are.

I think these beliefs all pretty much fucked. I’m putting them up for reference, not as a suggestions list. If you disagree – if you think that they’re perfectly valid and they work for you – good on you. They don’t work for me, though. I haven’t picked them, I don’t agree with them, and they’re screwing me up, so I’m going to do what I do best, and kill them with fire.

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