Resisting HappinessBy Dr. Margaret Paul
August 17, 2015
Are you stuck in misery? Do you resist taking responsibility for making yourself happy? Discover a possible cause of this.
One of the issues I frequently encounter with my clients is the following:
Sasha is in a long-term, on-again, off-again, relationship with Fabio. When Sasha is taking loving care of herself, the relationship goes well, but as soon as she makes Fabio responsible for her feelings, Fabio goes into resistance and their relationship goes into turmoil.
Sasha comes from parents who were judgmental toward her and not emotionally attentive to her. She tends to treat herself the same way her parents treated her – judging herself and abandoning her feelings. She then expects Fabio to treat her the way she wanted her parents to treat her and gets angry and blaming toward him when he doesn't. He retreats from her anger and blame and she then breaks up with him, hoping to find a man who will treat her better. After a few weeks or a few months, they get back together and the cycle starts all over.
The issue for Sasha is that she resists taking loving responsibility for making herself happy because she is focused on punishing her parents for being bad parents. She is fearful that if she is happy, they will think they were good parents. They will think they won, and she can't stand this thought. She would rather be miserable than have them see her happy and think they won. She projects her parents onto Fabio and punishes him, too, for her misery. As with her parents, she doesn't want Fabio to think he is a good partner.
Because she is abandoning herself to punish her parents and Fabio, she constantly feels empty and miserable, and then convinces herself that it's because of her parents and Fabio. She then gets angry at Fabio for not taking loving care of her and he goes into resistance to being controlled by her. They have repeated this system for years.
Until loving herself is more important than whether or not her parents think they won or think they were good parents, she will continue to be miserable.
The same issue is operating for William. William consistently treats himself as his father treated him – judging himself so harshly that he often feels like getting off the planet. As soon as he starts to feel happy inside, he immediately goes into intense resistance and does everything he can to make himself miserable. He can't stand the thought that his father would think he was a good father. Like Sasha, he would rather be miserable than run the risk that his father would take credit for his happiness.
If you find yourself often feeling unhappy, check in to see if you are resisting taking responsibility for making yourself happy to punish your parents or someone else. If you consistently find yourself abandoning yourself with your self-judgments, or turning to various addictions, or making someone else responsible for your feelings, be honest with yourself. Are you resisting happiness to punish your parents or someone else?
I've discovered over the years of my work that, as strange as it may sound, this is a very common issue. People can stay stuck their whole lives – even after their parents die – resisting happiness to punish their parents, their siblings, their caregivers or their partner. Most of the time, they don't consciously realize they are doing this. They may have made this unconscious decision when they were young. They might have said to themselves something like, "I will never be happy (or successful or healthy or slender, etc.) I will show my mother or father or sibling that they can't control me. They will never win." They continue this unloving project into their adult life and then wonder why they are never happy or successful or healthy or slender.
Is this you? If it is, be aware that you can change your mind any time you want. You can decide that it's more important to be happy than to control whether or not your parents think they were good parents, or whether or not they think they won and are in control of you.
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