Fear of Joy Got You Down?

Hedonophobia is the official name for the “Fear of Joy”. Many people who have endured trauma or multiple traumas suffer from this seemingly counterintuitive issue. It can also be brought on when we see people in our lives who have been traumatized or are miserable, or when we’re exposed to those less fortunate or in oppressive situations.

This phobia can often be triggered when we are confronted with other people’s misery, or when we experience that misery first or second hand. People in this group often feel that it is unfair, or that it’s actually wrong, for them to feel joy when there are others who are suffering.

Those affected by this phobia may make statements like “How can I be happy when there is so much misery in the world?” They believe that it isn’t “right” for them to be happy because others cannot be. They often feel guilty, or even worse, ashamed of themselves for feeling joyful. And, they may not even be consciously aware of this feeling.

Fear of Joy And Trauma

People who have suffered many traumas, or a major trauma at a key developmental point of their lives, may experience hedonophobia. For example, Cuban Americans, who were born in Cuba, often exhibit this fear of joy by self-sabotaging, therefore ruining an otherwise positive life. This is due to spending their early years in Cuba, where they were relatively happy, and then having their whole world fall apart when they left Cuba and immigrated to the USA. The shock they experience in this situation is almost as traumatic as the events themselves, both during and afterward.

This scenario creates a sabotage mechanism in the nervous system, which is preempting the coming destruction of happiness or a happy situation, such as what seemed to exist in the original family prior to immigration. People in these situations often don’t even know why they’re sabotaging their lives. They don’t realize it’s a survival response created by their nervous system in order to control the coming misery of losing their happiness.

More often, limited levels of hedonophobia exist due to an overactive “fix it” instinct, which is a natural impulse of Homo sapiens. Part of our survival instincts include looking at everything around us, determining what is wrong, and then fixing it. There is a sense of satisfaction and, yes, joy that comes from finding solutions.

The ongoing manifestation of this pattern of living can metamorphosize into not being able to fully experience the joy. When joy comes, we begin to look for the next thing that is “wrong”, or even what is wrong with our joy. We soon find that when we are basing our joy on “fixing things”, our joy does not last. Joy, when it is not created from within, can in itself present a problem. We may even start to avoid experiencing joy because we believe it always fades, and cannot be controlled. Thus we can develop a cynical view of living and joy.

You can often pick up on this in conversation with people. They will say things like, “This (or something) was great” and/or “I am happy” followed by “but…”. The “but” will precede a statement along the lines of “it won’t last”.

The Pathwaves Approach to Joy

At Pathwaves, we teach our clients how to manifest and embody the idea of creating joy from within, powered by the breath and the innate ability to create joy. This alleviates the phobia or fear associated with joy.

Furthermore, we teach our clients how to manifest and embody the idea that a basic tenet of enjoying living is to accept, forgive, honor, have gratitude for, and celebrate living as an experience in and of itself. From this perspective each of us can enjoy living, no matter what is happening in our lives.


If you’d like to learn how you can support your personal growth through our methodology, we are here to help. Schedule a free 30-minute consultation today.

To help those who cannot afford the services of Pathwaves, consider donating to the Pathwaves Foundation. Please call (305) 858-6616 for more information.

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