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The Handcuffs of Unhappiness

Does happiness seem out of reach? Like a rare bird that every once in a while comes and perches outside your window yet never, ever, allows you to touch it, let alone hold it?

That’s how it felt to me after two decades of abuse. I didn’t think life was ever going to get any better. I didn’t believe I would ever be happy. I thought happiness was only available to others. I felt locked up in the handcuffs of unhappiness.

It took a college professor asking me if I was okay for everything to change. Nobody had ever asked me this. She helped me realize that what I had been living with was treatable. She filled me with hope that I could get beyond the abuse and create a new life for myself.

And that is what I’ve done. I overcame two decades of abuse and created a life that is beyond anything I ever imagined. I am happy now. If I can do this, you can do this, too.

Whether or not you have struggled with abuse, chances are, if you’re reading this, there is some way you feel locked out of the possibility of happiness. I am here to tell you that it is possible to be happy! Yet before you can touch that rare bird of happiness, you have to unlock yourself from the handcuffs of unhappiness.

What keeps you locked in the handcuffs of unhappiness?

Not Acknowledging You’re Unhappy
Ignoring unhappiness doesn’t make it go away. In fact, ignoring it tightens the handcuffs on your wrists and ensures that it will stick around a lot longer than you want it to.

You may deny you’re unhappy because you’re embarrassed or even ashamed to admit to others just how unhappy you are. You aren’t alone in this. I was horrified to admit my unhappiness to others.

Yet when you deny your unhappiness, you’re telling yourself you don’t matter. This is actually a form of neglect and abuse. Imagine this part of you that feels so unhappy being left alone in a closet in the dark. Would you do this to a little child? Then don’t do this to yourself.

When you acknowledge your unhappiness, you value your experience, you value yourself. You let yourself know, “Hey, I matter.” This also helps you build a bridge between your mind and your body. Rather than leaving that unhappy part of you behind in a closet, all of you is engaged and available. This opens up the possibility of unlocking yourself from the handcuffs.

Letting The Addiction To Unhappiness Rule
Unfortunately, a lot of people are addicted to their unhappiness because it is familiar. It is also a way to connect: complaining about what’s not working in life is one way this society forms relationships. When things are not working, people take you out to coffee; they take you shopping; or they suggest a spa day.

Yet when things are going really well, some people get mad at you or wonder what drug you’re on. They aren’t called to support you or to take you out. In fact, others often don’t know how to relate to someone’s joy and success.

Unhappiness has become a habit. Our lives are fueled by the struggle of what is not working. People with addictions to alcohol struggle to release their habit. Ultimately, to truly surrender their grip on the bottle they require support.
Unhappiness is an addiction, too. Getting free from the grip of the handcuffs requires support.

Not Asking For Or Receiving Support
I tried to overcome my own trauma and unhappiness on my own, yet that didn’t get me anywhere. I turned to drinking and drugs to numb out for awhile because I couldn’t stand the pain I was in.

I finally had to admit to myself that I needed support. So I read every self-help book I could find. They gave me insights into healing and happiness, yet they weren’t enough.

It was my professor at college who offered the support I needed: she provided a safe place for me to share my story. Up until this time, all my secrets and worries had been locked inside my body; neglected and abandoned. How could I experience true happiness with parts of me locked up?

In order to unlock yourself from the handcuffs of unhappiness, you need to delve into the root of your unhappiness. This requires looking at events, situations and relationships in your past. You may not realize this but your past impacts your present.

The heaviness of your unhappiness is lifted when you have the eyes and ears of a professional (like a therapist, doctor, or other practitioner). Sharing your story in this way begins to unlock you from the handcuffs. When you do this you move from enslavement to freedom, from limitation to possibility.

You cannot create a new present and future until you face the stuff from your past that led you to where you are. You need to share your story, learn from it, and discover how you can create a new one. Once you enlist the support of a trusted advisor you will feel a profound sense of relief. You no longer need to struggle on your own.

If the shame of your unhappiness or the addiction to it is keeping you from asking for or receiving support, you will continue to remain locked in the handcuffs of unhappiness.

But if you’re willing to:

  1. Acknowledge you’re unhappy
  2. Let go of your addiction to unhappiness
  3. Ask for and receive support

You can unlock yourself from the handcuffs of unhappiness and experience the happiness available to you. What might if be like to hold that rare bird in your arms after all this time of glimpsing it out beyond your reach?

***

For more articles on happiness, check out:

 

Moving Beyond Depression: Becoming A Radical Ally For Yourself

6 Questions To Cultivate Happiness

Happiness: A Daily Choice

 

Be You. Beyond Anything. Create Magic.

You can find more information from Dr. Lisa Cooney on her site DrLisaCooney.com or find her onFacebook or on Twitter @DrLisaCooney!

The Handcuffs of Unhappiness


Dr. Lisa Cooney


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APA Reference
Cooney, D. (2019). The Handcuffs of Unhappiness. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 8, 2020, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/roar/2016/04/the-handcuffs-of-unhappiness/

 

Last updated: 28 Mar 2019
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network (blogs.psychcentral.com) prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.