This blog post was written by Pooja Shah, PsyD.
Have you ever had the thought, why do the bad things always happen to me? Do you sabotage yourself just when things are going good? Do you feel like you always get the short end of the stick? Do you feel like you are waiting for the worst to happen?
Martha Heineman Pieper, PH.D. and William J. Pieper, M.D., authors of Addicted to Unhappiness: Free Yourself from Moods and Behaviors that Undermine Relationships, Work and the Life You Want, discuss how some individuals create patterns in their life that always lead to experiences of unhappiness and which then impact many areas of their life such as relationships and work. These patterns although unconscious, can be stopped when understood.
To start off, individuals will create these patterns early in life as a way to survive and protect themselves. However, as we age, many of the coping mechanisms we learned and used as children become ineffective and sometimes problematic as adults. For example, as a child you may have believed that there was no point in getting your hopes up, because if you did, you would be let down. So… you believed that it would be better to lower your expectations, and then, if something better happened than it would be great. This may have worked a few times, but overtime, as you continue to do this, you spend less time enjoying the “great” and more time focusing on the lowered expectations. This may then lead to resentment, towards others and life, for always having to lower your expectations or not being able to depend on others.
So is this something you struggle with? This can occur in many different ways and patterns. For example, working hard on a goal and not completing it right at the end. Entering a relationship and then when things are going well, starting to feel like the person is not the one for you and most probably picking a fight. Not taking the time to celebrate something you achieved or have been working hard on. Negating the accomplishments you have. Feeling “down” after things have been going well. Whatever it may be, to start breaking through, you must begin by noticing and identifying your behavioral patterns.
Once you have identified these patterns work on recognizing and noticing them in the moment. When you recognize it remind yourself of what it really is, acknowledge it, and then let it go. The challenge is that you have become comfortable with being uncomfortable and sometimes miserable. Success and pleasure in your eyes is always clouded by fear of it being taken away. The truth is…yes; happiness may be taken away on occasion. The patterns of life make it inevitable, but that does not make it okay to always live in fear of it. Acceptance will be an important part in achieving happiness. Accepting that good things can happen to you and that you deserve it.