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Ever been invited to an event and turned it down, even though you would probably enjoy it? Ever find yourself scared when things are going 'too well'? You might just have cherophobia, and you certainly aren't alone.
Cherophobia is an irrational fear that can stop you being happy. The term comes from the Greek word chairo meaning 'to rejoice' and it can stop you having loads of fun, or getting ahead in life, because of the fear that getting what you want might make you happy.
It's completely different to things like depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder - for a start it doesn't feature in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is the go-to text for those sorts of things.
People with cherophobia aren't sad or anxious all of the time, they just tend to avoid things that might make them happy because of a fear that something horrible might happen.
It could be that you feel anxious around your friends, or that you don't take up opportunities that might help you better yourself or lead to positive life changes.
You might pass up on things that seem really fun for fear of becoming vulnerable or happy.
Obviously, being happy doesn't mean that the world owes you some sort of catastrophic bad luck - it just doesn't work like that. It also doesn't make you a bad person to have fun, but some people might think that.
Carrie Barron, a psychiatrist, wrote in Psychology Today about some reasons that people may start to experience cherophobia or 'hedonophobia' - a fear of pleasure.
She said: "There is so much talk about the pursuit of happiness these days,
"It might seem unusual for someone to fear this positive emotion. If it is due to a happiness/punishment link in childhood, it could be more common than we think."
It might be that some past trauma or event in which happiness brought about a negative reaction or response. This could make you wary to experience happiness again.
Barron continued: "If you are pleasure averse, it may be because somewhere along the way, wrath, punishment, humiliation or theft - you earned it and they had to have it - killed your joy.
"Now you are afraid to feel it because the bubble burst/brutality is coming."
The fear has been summarised by blogger Stephanie Yeboah. Describing what it can be like to live in this state, she told Metro: "Ultimately, it's a feeling of complete hopelessness, which leads to feeling anxious or wary of taking part in, or actively doing things, that promote happiness as you feel that it will not last.
"A fear of happiness doesn't necessarily mean that one is constantly living in sadness. In my case, my cherophobia was exacerbated/triggered by traumatic events. Even things such as celebrating a campaign win, completing a difficult task or winning a client make me feel uneasy."
The end point of this is to realise that being happy won't make you unhappy, or have bad luck. To tackle cherophobia requires a change of mindset, but one that will make you all the better.
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