Have you ever had this feeling when something good happens to you, and the next thought you have is that something will now go wrong? And all of a sudden, you discount what happened to you? It could be at work or in your relationships — maybe you get something you’ve been wanting, you connect with someone you’ve been wanting to connect with, your kids get good grades in school, you get good news about an upcoming promotion, or you’ve been acknowledged for your good work. Then, a little voice inside you says, “Just you wait. This is not going to last.”
This recently happened to me. I was feeling a sense of joy and fulfillment in my life and was trying to help others who didn’t have that same experience in their own lives. It was almost a sense of, “I can’t fully accept my good unless the people around me are also experiencing their good.” I think this feeling goes back to a primitive tribal belief that your feelings depend on how the whole tribe feels. When I was writing about the Greek gods, I kept running into stories about how mortals would sacrifice to the gods to thank them for getting what they wanted, or they would be punished. They promised the gods gifts — like a payback. And then of course there’s the whole erroneous puritanical belief that we need to keep paying our dues, and even when good things happen, there is a sense of not feeling completely deserving of those things. We second guess our successes, not fully believing them and not fully taking them in.
Think of something in your life that’s going well right now. It can be something big or small. It can be that you’ve wanted to start a fitness or nutrition program and you’re succeeding, or that your relationships are growing. Tap into anything that might be going well right now — even something small, like the fact that your flight is on time. Think about what it means to take in the goodness of that particular situation. It’s almost like your heart is opening and you are taking in this goodness that’s filled with gratitude. When a thought comes that says it won’t last, laugh at it. Deflect it by not giving it any energy or attention, and be mindful of believing it and not sabotaging yourself. Also, try to be mindful about where the thought is coming from. So often, these thoughts come from an internal fear. When we’re conscious of those fears inside of us, we can actively work to remove them from our minds. Remind yourself that the thought is old, it is primitive, and it has no validity anymore. Don’t let it rob you of your happiness and your joy — and your deservingness of good things going even better.
Make a habit to build on your successes. Build on each small achievement, and acknowledge them. I remember once I had an organizational coach who helped me organize my files. She told me I should keep a “success file.” She told me to make it any color I want, and I made it a bright yellow file with a big butterfly on top. I wrote on it, “Agapi’s Success File.” She told me to add in a handwritten note each time something went well. To this day, I look at this file and love the habit of recording and celebrating each of my wins, small and big. As my mother used to tell us, “Life is for you. So you better be for you, too.” It’s important to stand by you, and file all the things that are going well in your life.
The key is to take all the good little things (and the good big things) that happen to you, and give yourself permission to fully accept them and celebrate them.
How do you celebrate the good in your life and silence the voice that tries to hold back your joy? Share it with us in the comments!