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Why are Some People Afraid to Be Happy?

I have been interviewing women, specifically administrative and executive assistants, for a research project associated with my coaching business. I have enjoyed the process and learned some thought-provoking facts about the mindset of these fine ladies. Some were not surprising, and some I found disturbing. It is one of those alarming facts I will talk about today. Many of the individuals I spoke with told me they were unhappy at work. In fact, they felt they were not respected and were considered inferior to the supervisors they worked for. However, they refused when given a chance to get help to move forward. Full disclosure here, I have a group program that runs a few times a year where I teach women how to find their strengths and values and use them to their advantage. It doesn't matter if the person wants to change careers or get a better position; knowing their value goes a long way toward success.

I approached more than thirty women, and only one signed on for the spring run. If you are wondering, yes, I charge a fee, but it is minimal and is more about commitment than money. People sign up for free webinars and seminars but don't show up. There is nothing at stake. Make them pay a little, and they will likely be there. Some did say the money was a factor (a good percentage are out of work), and I told them I was happy to work with them. I offered a payment plan, and if that was too difficult, a deferred payment where they paid me after they found a new job. They still said no after some thought, saying it was not the right time.

Even though there was a high chance they would feel better about themselves and happier at the end of the program, they would not budge. I know it could be me, that they don't trust me. I have testimonials from happy clients, though, so I think it is more. It is fear.

There could be many reasons why people may not change when their lives are unhappy. Some possible reasons include the following:

  • Fear of the unknown: People may feel more comfortable sticking with what they know, even if it is causing them unhappiness, because they fear the uncertainty and potential risks of making significant changes. I have talked with many women with hate their jobs but stick it out because they don't know if they will find another job. They are terrified of trying something new because of the possibility of failure.

  • Lack of awareness: Some people may not realize their lives could be better or that there are changes they could make to improve their situation. They may feel their unhappiness is just a part of life, or it is too late to make significant changes. This is sad, but true. No one will be happy 24/7, but it is possible to be satisfied most of the time. Wallowing in misery is being a martyr; if you look back on history, that never ends well. Being complacent when in a terrible situation is a form of learned helplessness. Don't be a victim. Also, live how you feel, not based on the number of years you have lived on this planet. People are doing great things well into their later years, far beyond the typical retirement age. Don't fall into the ageism trap.

  • Resistance to change: Change can be difficult. Some people may resist making changes because they are comfortable with their current situation or fear that change will be too difficult or disruptive to their lives. If that is the case, I do not want to hear any complaints about how crappy their job is and what an s.o.b. the boss can be. A good portion of the population consistently gripes about their situation, yet they don't want to do anything about it. They want to be handed opportunities rather than make them for themselves. Do not be part of that losing strategy. Change doesn't have to upheave your life. You make a plan and break it up into smaller milestones. Before you know it, you have made it to the finish line.

  • Lack of resources: Making changes often requires time, money, and other resources. Some people may feel like they don't have the necessary resources to make significant changes in their lives. I say that if there is a will, there is a way. That is an old saying, but also true is that it is a fact. If you have the passion and grit, you will devise a game plan to make change happen. Trust me; I did it. It was not easy, there were some very lean times (tune casserole anyone?), but they did not last forever. The sacrifice was worth it, and I do not regret a thing. Anything you do to move forward is an investment in yourself and your future. There is no better investment than that.

It is important to note that everyone's situation is different, and there may be other reasons people may not change when their lives are unhappy. However, understanding some roadblocks that stand in the way of change makes it possible to identify what is holding them back so they can take steps to overcome these obstacles. It is also important to remember that you can seek help from others, whether it is friends and family, a supervisor at work that can be a mentor or a coach that can help you think through important decisions. To sum up everything, you are in charge of your happiness, you can choose to be happy, and if you continue to stay stuck in place, you have no one to blame but yourself. Right now, at this very moment, choose to make one change that can improve your life. It may be one of the best decisions you ever make.

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