Your boss gives you great feedback on your presentation. You've finally paid off your credit card. A friend compliments the dessert you made.

And you feel…terrible! Full of anxiety, self-doubt, guilt, or shame. 

It can seem completely counterintuitive–everyone understands feeling bad when things are going badly but shouldn’t you feel happy, grateful, and excited when things are going great?

If you feel especially bad when something goes well for you, it’s very likely you have a history of trauma. Something inside says it’s not safe to feel good about yourself or your accomplishments. 

This makes sense if, while you were growing up: 

you were punished if you showed you were excited, happy, or proud of yourself
you were put down when you tried to achieve something
you were guilt tripped or made to feel undeserving when good things happened for you
it was safer to be silent and invisible

It can be confusing, embarrassing, and frustrating to not be able to feel satisfied when something goes well. It can also hold you back from being ambitious and going after what you really want because being successful feels so uncomfortable. 

If any of the above sounds familiar to you, then the younger version of yourself that still lives inside you probably needs help to see that you aren’t in that punishing, scary environment anymore. This part of yourself that tries to protect you by bringing up negative feelings has to be convinced that it’s finally safe to celebrate your wins.

Photo by Ian Keefe on Unsplash

Rachel Ginsberg

Rachel Ginsberg


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