Cherophobia is a phobia where a person has an irrational aversion to or fear of being happy. The term comes from the Greek word “chero,” which means “to rejoice.” When a person experiences cherophobia, they’re often afraid to participate in activities that many would define as fun, or of being happy.
In reality, people living with cherophobia are not always afraid of the pleasant feelings happiness can bring, but they are, more concerned about the possible negative effects – disappointment, sadness, loneliness – which can follow when whatever is causing the happiness haults.
Unfortunately, worrying about being happy blocks a healthy way of life. That’s because humans need positive experiences to reinforce and recharge ourselves, both mentally and physically. Additionally, the production of so-called ‘happiness hormones’ (endorphins such as serotonin and dopamine), is important for our well-being. Those of us who do not produce enough of these endorphins may develop depression.
Someone who has cherophobia isn’t necessarily a sad person, but on the other side that person is one that avoids activities that could lead to happiness or joy.
Examples of symptoms associated with cherophobia could include:
• experiencing anxiety at the thought of going to a joyful social gathering, like a party, concert, or other similar event
• rejecting opportunities that could lead to positive life changes due to fear that something bad will follow
• refusal to participate in activities that most would call fun
Some of the key thoughts a person who experiences cherophobia may express include:
• Being happy will mean something bad will happen to me.
• Happiness makes you a bad or worse person.
• Showing that you’re happy is bad for you or for your friends and family.
• Trying to be happy is a waste of time and effort.
The Happiness Scale
Some use what is called the “happiness scale” to measure what is, admittedly, a subjective perspective.
It works by having respondents answer a simple four-question survey. Questions include:
The mentality of cherophobia puts sufferers in a tough spot: They end up judging themselves for feeling joy, and woes still, they sometimes end up transferring that judgement onto other people as well.
All in all that makes this phobia pretty darn isolating. It’s hard to be around someone who can’t tolerate personal happiness, or who can’t feel free expressing happiness in a normal way.
Having certain personality traits may also make a person more likely than others to have a fear of happiness.
Here’s how each one can increase a person’s vulnerability to this phobia –
It should go without analyzing that introverts are in no way predisposed to cherophobia. However, if someone experiences some kind of traumatic event that ignite cherophobia and they happen to be introverted, their lifestyle tendencies to shy away from social gatherings and spend time by themselves can sometimes encourage the fear of happiness to grow.
People who are more extroverted, on the other side, are less likely to have a fear of being happy. This is because they are more prone to spending time gathering with others and being social inherently brings extroverts joy.
Someone who is always craving to be a better version of themselves may judge happiness as complacency. If you’re not constantly working toward something, then you’re basically settling—and this applies to everything in life, not just joy. For a perfectionist, if they’re happy then they don’t need to micromanage their existence anymore, which would take away their sense of self.
In psychology, withdrawal is defined as having a tendency toward depression and anxiety. People who are depressed often avoid social events or activities that could bring them joy. Withdrawing socially supports the idea in someone’s mind that being social will only lead to disappointment or loneliness in the end, causing more isolation or a fear of happiness during activities that are meant to be fun.
Agreeableness, is defined as a person’s ability to put other people’s needs above their own. While thinking of others can bring joy in its own way, there is a line between serving others and forgetting oneself. When it comes to cherophobia, someone who is very agreeable has a hard time being happy in their own life because so much of their self worth is wrapped up in making sure the people around them are happy.
Some suggested ways of treatments include –
• Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a therapy that helps a person recognize faulty lines of thinking and identify behaviors that can help them change
• Relaxation strategies, such as deep breathing, journaling, or exercising
• Hypnotherapy – It is an adjunctive technique that utilizes hypnosis to aid in the treatment of specific symptoms or health conditions.
• Exposure to happiness-provoking events as a means to help a person identify that happiness doesn’t have to have adverse effects.
Not everyone with an aversion to happiness necessarily needs treatment. Some people feel happier and more secure when they’re avoiding happiness. Unless cherophobia is interfering with their own personal quality of life or ability to maintain a job, they may not require treatment at all.
However, if the symptoms of cherophobia are related to a past trauma, treating an underlying condition may help to treat cherophobia.
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