If Happiness is a Decision WHY Couldn’t I Make It?


the happiest place on earth“Happiness is a decision”.  Have you ever thought about what a guilt trip that statement is?

It dawned on me a while back that this statement implies that if I am unhappy, then I am deciding to be unhappy. When I was unhappy and depressed, I tried everything I ever heard about to get myself over it. I tried to “decide to be happy”.  Oh I had brief success with it, yes, but not the enduring happiness that I sought after for so long. I got a little relief but never a permanent result. I tried self help; I tried books, affirmations and seminars.  I took vitamins, changed my diet and exercise, bought new clothes and said “I love you” to myself in the mirror and did other affirmations.  I quit coffee, quit drinking alcohol and quit smoking and I improved my lifestyle.  I WANTED to be happy. I wanted to believe that life was worth living. It just didn’t seem to be that easy! If happiness is merely a decision… then no one ever told me how to make that decision.

I did a Google search for the phrase “happiness is a decision” and I came up with lots of articles about how we can just “decide to be happy”.  None of it was very helpful at all but I think that when we don’t have any solution we are willing to accept half a solution or anything that sounds like a solution.  Be mindful about where that acceptance might lead you though.

Other than for brief moments, such as when I got a new car, new haircut, new boyfriend, took a vacation, or read a fantastic inspiring self help book or attended an equally uplifting seminar, lasting happiness escaped me. I wanted MORE than a Band-Aid. I wanted the real deal.

But I believed that happiness was a decision that I could make. I believed that happiness was a choice. I even told other unhappy people that happiness is a decision and a choice.  And deep down I felt like a failure because I couldn’t MAKE that decision.  Because I believed that happiness is a decision, I also believed that I CHOSE not to make that decision.  And there is the guilt. That was the underlying disapproval of myself. That was where the little voice inside got to say, “you have a choice, you can be happy, but you don’t want to be or you would decide to be”

Those statements got to me, but I never realized it. I never looked at it the way that I do now. I didn’t know that happiness was NOT a decision. Not in my life it wasn’t. Not for me. I think those sayings are really meant for different circumstances.

My teenage children have had some unhappy times in their lives. I am SO glad that I didn’t tell them that happiness is a decision.  Looking at it through the grid of teaching that concept to children brings to mind so many ways that I was discounted and verbally discouraged.  There is a subconscious element to this whole thing.  If you tell an emotionally struggling person that happiness is a choice, the deeper reaction to that statement IS guilt and self blame.  I “heard” that the choice was in my own hands when in reality it wasn’t until I went through the process of facing the truth about why I was unhappy.

I found real and lasting happiness when I faced the things that had caused me to be so unhappy in the first place. And now I really can choose my attitude.  I found that being grateful, being able to sustain an attitude of gratitude came much easier after I faced the past and was allowed to have my resentments for the things that stole my happiness. When I gave myself permission to feel the anger and NOT judge myself for it, I didn’t have to fight it anymore.  When I put the guilt,shame and blame back where it belonged and to who it belonged to, I was able to let go of guilt, shame and self blame. When I validated my right to be angry, hurt and resentful over the things that happened to me in the past, finally I was able to rise above the past.  The anger, hurt and resentment were no longer a problem.

The biggest difference between today and back then is that I don’t have those dark days anymore now that I have faced my past and faced the pain. By owning my truth I have taken my life back. Emerging from broken is about HOW I did that.

Today I can decide to be happy but that was never possible with I lived with the black cloud of the past and all the lies that belonged to it. It was in facing the past that I let it go, found peace and regained my ability to choose.  Happiness can be a decision now but I rarely think about it, because I am so rarely UN-Happy.

Please share your thoughts and comments here

Exposing Truth, one snapshot at a time;

Darlene Ouimet

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Related posts ~ Emotionally abusive statements

The problem with living one day at a time

When inspirational material triggers self blame

Categories : Depression



“But I believed that happiness was a decision that I could make. I believed that happiness was a choice.”

I am SOOOOOO sick of hearing this. I didn’t CHOOSE to be disabled or abused… and I didn’t choose to have C-PTSD. This comment is so indicative of ‘victim blaming’!!!

Great post, Darlene


this one pushes all sorts of expressions to the front of my mind, none of them good. i am really getting annoyed with people judging me and tell me how i should do things when they have no idea of why i do the things i do or how much hard work has gone into getting where i am. i suffer daily from my childhood, not by choice but because i havent found the key to unlock the earliest behaviours and why my coping skills still wont let me in. i hate that when i explain, not excuse, why i am the way i am i get told that it isnt enough and i must conform. conform to what exactly. who’s rules am i supposed to live by, families and friends or community and society. because they have all taught me not to trust and not take things on face value. how they expected me to alter something that i have been trying all my adult life to undo just because they deem me to outspoken or aggressive because i hadnt learnt how to channel my anger at the situation not get in my way of dealing correctly with those who do there best to wind me up on purpose with their denial of what i have seen and been thriugh.
i hate being to ld to smile when i feel like poo and have the weight of my past heavy on my shoulders, i hate having topaste on a false face everytime i am unable to be myself because they wouldnt understand or even really wana know why i am the way i am. the way they made me, the way the raised me, not my choice or option but i had to get through it. so i have weird ideas that if you teach parents how to parent positively the long term benefit outawys the reluctance of such parents to be educated or accept help.
how soicety forces us to behave and conform when we really find it impossible at that point in your healing is counterproductive and , with me, kept me in the stubborn stance of why should they get away with it and why do only i see what i am seeing. oooooooo


I know people who live by this and they pat themselves on the back for their success at it but really, they are practicing denial. When someone feels sad but makes themselves choose to be happy, they are creating a big mess inside of themselves. Why do people feel guilty about how they feel? Emotions come and go at their own volition. What we can control,or learn to control, is how we express our emotions.It is much more healthy to simply acknowledge what one feels and cognitively decide what to do with it. Denial is just a form of stuffing and that leads to explosive bursts of pent up emotion.

I’m not happy all of the time. I experience a full range of emotion througout the day. I do have a deep joyfulness and that comes from my faith. My emotions, my cognition, and my spirituality all play important roles in how I perceive and interact with the world. When they work in tandem, I am balanced. If I stiffle one in favor of another, I am out of balance.

A lot of Christians believe that we should rely on the intellect and deny our feelings. I don’t know how this ended up being viewed as a spiritual approach to life but it is a traditional teaching that I believe, is just wrong. It may have some theological merit from somewhere but I don’t find that in the Bible.

I’m babbling a bit,:0)I don’t want to give my emotions the upper hand but I don’t want to stifle them either.


This is so good! When I was still being sexually abused by my dad, my parents insisted I have a “good attitude”. I was so struggling just to get through each day and it was unbelievably painful that I had to be abused in my own home and smile about it. A huge part of my healing has been to accept my moods and emotions no matter what they are. It’s okay not to be happy sometimes. Now that I let out the painful emotions instead of covering them up with a happy face, I’m much happier. The real way I’ve found to BE happy is to LET myself be sad. I became a much more positive person when I let myself be negative. Great post!
Hugs, Christina


Wonderful post Darlene! I love it. For me the happiness stress was that what made ME happy was NOT what everyone told me should. And their version of happy made me ILL! I hated their idea of happy, it didn’t fit me any more than a size 3 shoe. It was painful to me to not be able to ‘choose happy’ when it was their happy. When I learned I could be grateful, happy, angry, frustrated and work through to the healing I was amazed! I could be happy without guilt? How can this be? It must be wrong, so terribly wrong! Happily it isn’t wrong, it’s just right – for me!


Hi Barbara,
Exactly… thank you for adding your voice to this!

Hi Carol
I hear you! This stuff makes me angry too and some other expressions came up for me as well. I agree that the answer to this will be to enforce parent education. I don’t think your idea is weird at all!
Thanks for sharing.

Hi Pam,
I used to pretend to be one of these people who lived by this… and I did some of that back patting too ~ in between major episodes of depression… I tried to convince myself that I could choose MY emotions..,. that I could choose to let go of resentment, that I could put the past behind me IF IF IF I wanted to… but none of that worked. I have heard that thing about denying our feelings and going with intellect in church circles too! That might make a good blog topic!
Thanks for sharing! Your comments are wonderful! I like babbling but I call it “ranting” and it has a wonderful positive impact on the many!! Dont’ stifle!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Christina,
Oh yes, good point ~ being told that we can choose to be happy WHEN we are still being abused. This is a whole other piece of a rant! Many of the times that I was trying to decide to be happy I was IN an actively abusive relationship! yikes..
I love your comments ~ now that I let myself be sad, I am much happier and more positive too.
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Shanyn
and yet another aspect of this whole thing! That our happiness didn’t fit with someone else’s definition of what SHOULD make us happy! My mother didn’t approve of the farm house that came with the husband that I chose… She didn’t think I could/would be happy there….. OH this brings up a LOT of things Shanyn!
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


I find this very offensive too. The same goes to statements like “Just snap out of it” and “Why are you still stuck in the rut?”. One of my therapists told me, “How can you snap out when there is nothing to snap out of?”

The same goes with “choosing” to be happy.

All my life I never knew what it’s like to be happy. I thought that forcing myself to hang out with friends means I’m happy. I was wrong. I thought smiling and laughing means I’m happy. Wrong too. If I don’t know that being happy is like, how can I “choose” happiness?

I believe that a large part of happiness is learned. And it doesn’t mean that simply because someone chooses to not “snap out of it” means that they’re weak. In fact, right now I spend plenty of time telling the hurting that they’re stronger than many other people. It’s not easy for them to believe it and I understand, but this world is just so judgmental. Simply because a man is more emotional does it mean that he is weak?

I’ve learned that being judgmental is just to make people feel relieved of a responsibility to care and/or make themselves feel superior. But yet again, I have to always remind myself that while I value facing my pain, it’s MY value that I cannot impose on others.

We cannot be happy when there is so much pain. I only learned what happiness is, for the first time of my life, after recovery. I realized that true happiness is something that bubbles from within. It’s contagious. It can’t be forced and “chosen”. Happiness comes in the absence of hope.


“you are more pretty and more beautiful when you smile more”…”why can not you just be happy and just move on?”..these are ways of a bully or people who just can not GET IT or DO NOT want to get it,now that i know what was done to me should not be done to me in the first place,i am much happier because i am beginning to understand myself better,i can laugh and smile and feel happy if i feel it and NOT because i have to pretend i am happy.


I was never happy I had to accept my life as it is and then see what I can change to help myself. Living through abuse all of my childhood and putting myself into abusive situations in adult hood I made myself unhappy I did not know any bet…ter. I know better now because I have had to allow myself to feel all the pain and anger and what ever mixed feelings I had for so many years. Now I know it is ok and I am safe when I do feel negative feelings but I have tools to use to help myself. So now I can choose to be happy I can have a good day even if life is not going my way. Some days I choose to have good days and some days it is harder for me to choose to have a good day. But one thing is I can start my day all over at any time I can change my frame of mind and accept the day as it is the moment as it is and enjoy the moment and day. For that I am thankful. Thank you Darlene Ouimet for writing your page for us. Hugs


Hi G
I got that “you are so pretty when you smile” crap too! I was told that I was sullen. (hummm I wonder WHY I was!!!!!!!) Thank you so much for sharing,
I feel the same way, we can have our real emotions now!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Jasmine
There are so many statements that I realize today were really devaluing and controlling. And I agree with what you said about Judgements too!
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Angela
I love what you wrote about “being safe to have negative feelings” That is such a huge point! I didn’t even know before that I WAS afraid to have negative feelings! I didn’t realize that I had LEARNED to FEAR negative feelings!
Great point, thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


thanks darlene, maybe it something that should be enforced around the globe, yet how to get education and health services to recognise it as a public health issue rather than a domestic issue then we might get somewhere but till then i dont suppose the rights of the child will ever outway the beliefs of the parent, leading to disfunction and miscommunication in the child which then becomes an adult who tendsd to parent the way they were parented, that is why abuse is so entrenched in generations of families. mmmm it gets me so annoyed and then i lose my focus and let the past anger spoil my delivery and how i get my point across. how people can be so blind amazes me, especially as i only jus started to say it yet others have been saying it for years and are still on the fringes of the circle of people who actually have the power to implement changes that would cut abusive situations across the generations leading to a downward spiral for bad parenting practises. sorry i off topic but this all goes into howpoeple expect people to be happy and blame those who cannot for the reasons why they cannot be happy. to many circles need breaking


mmm i was just sat here rereading wht i had put and it struck me that i had diverted my focus away from how i coul dbe happy, the small picture, for how to make others happier, the bigger picture. not usually aware of it but i noticed it and now im not sure what i should do. cos i have never or rarely thought of myself as a happy person, im too serious as the weight of the past hangs on me some days, yet looking back over the last decade most of my growth has been in areas that make other people happy. like overcoming my fears so my child got socialised properly, finding courses so i broadened my parenting skills and therapy so i didnt pass down my issues to my child. all that growth for her and my husband. then ive gone back to education and still dont know what the heck im gona do with the degree that i will end up with, hopefully if i dont let me past hold me back with fear and worries about how others percieve me.


Thanks for this post. This speaks for others and not just yourself. How many depressed people are told the same thing; that it is their choice to either be happy or not, yet true happiness only comes from facing up to the pain of the past & receiving true healing, being totally set free from the past. Keep up the good work, very enlightening…


What you wrote in your second comment IS the most important thing of all. When I focused on ME and my recovery, (I felt so horribly selfish as I had been taught my whole life NOT to think of me) that was when I started to really heal. My peace and the way that I settled down impacted all those around me. I have always been somewhat of an advocate for others but since i have done my own work, I have REAL impact. I never realized that the result of actually putting me first would enable me to do the thing I desired to do most ~ to make a big difference in the hurting world. And best of all, I am a great mother now, much better then before. Healing myself is what made that possible. Healing myself and doing my work is why this blog is so popular. I don’t write from my pain, but rather from my past pain, which communicates REAL HOPE. I am convinced from all the in person speaking that I have done, and the impact that my blog has, that this was only possible because I truly healed and put my healing first. So I stand by my statement; if you want to have impact in the world and contribute to healing the world, heal yourself first. If you want people to believe that you know how the world can be happier and healthier, you have to be an example of happiness!
p.s. I never care much anymore how I will be percieved either… that was something else that went away with the process healing.
Thank you so much for posting!
This is so important! Hugs, Darlene


Reading this, the first thing that came to mind is, “How is it beneficial to the person who is saying that happiness is a decision?” Does it make them feel like they have been helpful? Does it make them feel like the world (or God) is fair? Does it help them feel more comfortable about their own happiness? Does it relieve the sometimes painful sense of responsibility we feel towards others?

I was taught this very well and I remember saying to my oldest, when he was about two, and would cry about not getting something he wanted: “You can be happy or you can be sad, it’s up to you.” (And then he would really wail!) Now, I was saying it in a calm manner, and my intention was to point out that I wasn’t going to cave because I felt bad about his sadness, but it still came out of my own need, which was not his job to fill. Thankfully, that strategy didn’t last so very long and I developed a stronger, less co-dependent relationship with my kids as time went on, and asI was able to examine my own motives more honestly. But — if I could do it over, I’d just say, “It’s okay. My answer is still ‘no’, but it’s just fine to be sad and angry.” And then I’d let him figure it out without all that static and interference.

@Carol: For what it’s worth, it sure sounds like you are moving in good directions. Maybe all that growth for the sake of others is spilling over into benefits for *you* too!


Very nicely said, btw, Darlene. Thank you for an excellent blog entry!


For me deciding to be happy meant more than just changing my mood or the way I “seemed” or looked to be on the outside to others. It meant really dissecting what made me unhappy and getting the courage to change that. Even just realizing I could change that, or even that I could question things in my life that I wouldn’t have dared to question outloud or even just in my own mind…it was about choosing to decide to find the road to my personal happiness by tearing up the road I was on and rebuilding… It wasn’t about being happy and grateful for what I have, it was about being happy and grateful for what I have that I want and being strong and courageous to figure out what was getting in my way and then getting it out of the way, or getting out of it’s way 🙂


Hi Miriam,
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
Another great highlight and again something I had not thought of! I said stuff like that to my kids too! I realized looking back that I said a lot of things because I had heard them… like a robot, I didn’t think that much about what it implied.
When I got into self help like the inspirational material stuff.. I bought it all. I was convinced that “happiness WAS a decision” that was when the internal guilt trip was re activated though… so I also think that some of the points you make about what these people really mean and why they say this stuff.
Great comments,
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


oh, and also the realization and acceptance that hurdles will always be getting in the way, but that as long as I am alive I have the strength to get over them…some how some way.


thanks darlene and miriam
yeah all the pots of healing have helped me grow in so many ways i just need to connect to it all now and then hopefully i can go from survivor to thriver like darlene has done. im making leaps and bounds in my self esteem and self belief since i found people on the internet who showed me that i was ontrack and just needed help to see the path from the lies. im getting there and that is the nly way for me personally. i hate my past holding me back when i know there is a full life waiting for me eventually.


Hi Darlene

I have been thinking about our blog and trying to get my words to cooperate so as to come out in the right sentence structure but don’t know if they will .. I always thought happiness was a ha ha. and always smiling. but I come to know that is not happiness..just something some people do when happy.

Then I thought if I did everything my mom said and everyone else said I would be happy; but, that was completely wrong too.

I finally came to the conclusion that happiness is something that happens.. when you are doing what you are meant to do. what you want to do. when you are finally being you ..

i think that’s why therapy and healing is so important as we have had so many false ideas of who we are. so how I be me and be happy if I don’t know who I am I think when I come to know who I am . .and what I want to do . and what am meant to do I will be truly happy. .I think happiness is an evolving things . .the more we become ourselves the happier we are..

Since I have been told by so many people who I am and who i cannot be .. i could never be happy . because I wasnt me at all. ..Whever i was doing everybody elses biddings i was unhappy because it’s not what i really wanted to do but what I had to do.. .Finally when I was running away from what I was suppose to do: heal and become whole .. I was unhappy because I was doing everything I wasnt suppose to be.

So for me happiness will be : becoming who I am suppose to be, finding who it is I am and what it is am to do and then going forward..

I am probably way off but to me . I think once i know me . .and am able to do what I am suppose to i will be well on the road to happiness…right now am still quite lost



ps should have said been thinking about “your blog” i have lots of misspellings which is my great downfall;)JOY


Joy, I don’t think you are way off. I think what you said is right on target.


Hi Pam:

What do you know . I was so afraid to answer because really in my life I have not known happiness; so to say what it is really set me in to the deep thinking mode.

Thank you for your kindly words and support and for yesterday too. I appreciate your friendship and everyone else here too:)

(hugs) if ok



I think you are right on Joy. I too for so long thought happiness would come when I got this job or that house or whatever people either explicitly told me, or what I had learned by watching them I thought I was supposed to do. Then when I decided to give all that up and see what do I really want, it was and is still hard to fight off my internal urges to “prove” myself to everyone else…luckily even when I try to fool myself, my husband seems to be able to ask me the right questions to make me realize that my motives are not as hidden to others as I thought they were, or even as I had tried to hide them from myself. One thing I have learned for sure…happiness can NOT be bought with money. Don’t get me wrong, to some extent we need money, but I have found that the difference between what we actually need financially and what we want or think we need is substantial. When things get tough financially is when I feel myself starting to want to compromise my values and lean towards making decisions that may help quickly financially, but I know I would regret shortly and end up back at square one (or close to it).


Hi Wendi
Love your comments! That is how it worked for me too!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Joy
This is a conclusion that I came to when I was WELL on my way to achieving it! Bravo for you for realizing it already. This is an excellent truly excellent and insightful comment. And yes, this is the truth, this is how I found the happiness and peace that I have today.
Thank you for posting!
Hugs, Darlene


Dear Wendi:

Thank you for confirming what I come to believe happiness is. I came to my conclucions by eliminating what it is not. I know now that everything, so far, that I have seen and know is NOT happiness. SO I knew it had to be something else.. and I knew it had to deal with me since its my happiness.

Financial problem really can distract us from everything else .. after all we don’t pay our bills we will have all kinds of other problems. So glad you have found your happiness and that your husband is good to remind you in a gentle way when you go off a little bit.

hugs: joy

Hi Darlene.. Well can I say I shocked myself..? I just concluded inside me I don’t have happiness yet and everything I had been taught in the past about happiness was a lie; so I knew I had yet to grasp or understand it.

I knew I wasn’t me as I had to be everything everyone else wanted me to be and i knew i wasn’t doing what I wanted for so long.. so now as I told you before.. I am lost.. take all the bad thins people said i was.. all the lies everything i thought i was and voila here I am but i don’t know me. i only know the me everyone said i was. the me I become through brokenness etc. .now i have to find me and then start becoming me. so i can become truly happy. .i think that’s right…lol am rambling

love you




Hi Susan Catherine!

Welcome to Emerging from Broken! Glad to have your voice here!
Thanks for your comments!
hugs, Darlene


When I left home at 19, I wanted to leave the incest behind me in that house so bad that I did everything that I could think of to be happy. It didn’t work. I learned many years later that it was called denial and that as a child I used denial to survive the incest. But as an adult, denial just added more pain and more confusion to the hurt of the incest.

Pretending does not heal anything. Denial is pretending something didn’t happen when you know that it did. Denial just extends the pain. The only way to let go of denial is to become aware of the lies that you are telling yourself. Awareness is the key that opens the door to healing. You have to become aware of the abuse and acknowledge that “Yes, it really did happen to you.” Without awareness you can’t change anything. The only way to heal the pain is the feel it all. Once you feel the rage, the hurt, the sadness of grief and disappointment, the sadness and anger of betrayal and abandonment, the fear that keeps you quiet and keeps you from wanting to feel again, then you can finally welcome in the happiness and joy back into your life. You cannot deny bad feelings and expect to feel the good ones. To have happiness in your life, you have to feel the whole range of feelings when they come up.


Yes, great points. Thank you so much for adding your voice here too. Denial is absolutely a major factor in this… when we are kids, denial is a coping method; it is necessary for our survival, but when we are adults, it really gets in the way of happiness and freedom.
Great comments!
Hugs, Darlene


You have NO idea how much I needed to hear this today of all days. My husband and I are trying to have one more baby. I can’t figure out why I feel so unhappy, confused and afraid about it. It would be #4 for us. The first away from any contact with my family and his. The first away from “it all”. I am wondering if I’m having self doubts on how I’ll be as a parent “without them”. I think the struggle I feel inside isn’t having another baby, but my question to myself, can I do it? Can I finally let them all go and do it all “on my own”. Somewhere within a resounding YES! is beating through me but all the fears and crazies come back and try to fight it. I know if I make this decision that my life will be different. Not in how they are or act, but how I will be and how I will act. I am afraid to be me, but I can’t help it. It’s like the night I had a phone call my Father died. It’s that stomach dropping feeling like something permanent happened or is in motion and all you can do is hang on for the ride until it stops and see where you end up. I’ve had a feeling like that lately and I think this is what’s going on. I better live up to their definitions then and not dissapoint and in the end set myself free. It’s time for the new beginning and time for Jessica to become Jessy. Thanks Darlene for helping me to figure it out 🙂 I know none of this makes sense to anyone, but it does to me 😉 Love will find a way.


YES I say YES too. I did it / do it BETTER on my own now. I am so much more empowered without putting everything through the grid of “what would they say, what would they do, would they approve”.. UGG. I was so afraid to be me, but I realized I was afraid to be me because I was told all my life that “ME” was wrong, ME wasn’t good enough ~ so no wonder why I afraid to be ME!
Welcome and I am so glad that you are here!
Hugs, Darlene


Absoulutely. You can’t just decide to ignore everything and expect your heart to be happy about it if nothing that caused the unhappiness has been addressed or changed.


Years ago, I came across a book entitled, “Happiness is a Choice” by Dr. Paul Meier. The title offended me, as it seemed to say I was bad for not choosing to be happy, and that there must be something wrong with me, because I must actually Want to be unhappy, since I obviously wasn’t choosing to be happy! I also came across the teen version of the same book, and purchased it, curious to know what it said, and how the author could have the audacity to make such a statement.

As it turns out, the book would have been more aptly titled, “Happiness Can Become a Choice”! It appears to contain a lot of information and help in getting the reader to the place where a person is healthy enough and equipped to be able to make the sort of choices that, it claims, “will result in happiness and freedom from debilitating depression”. Most encouraging is his repeated remark that “Depression is 100% curable.” I am just not sure that in the midst of abuse, it is possible to be happy. To have hope for the future, yes, but not happiness while being abused?

Since the book was written in 1997, just now I thought I’d check his website for updates. He mentions that victims of abuse often have issues with unresolved grief. So I looked up his on-line articles on grief and share them here– they are brief articles, but they apply not only to grief such as one experiences upon the death of a loved one, but to grief in general. I found them helpful: (Links removed due to the blog authors disagrement with the content)

These articles helped me to understand (again) that the reason I was unhappy and depressed for so many years was that I was grieving the absence of an affirming, nurturing, deep, loving relationship with my parents. I was grieving the absence in reality, and then the death of that long-held dream. But as Dr. Meir says, “So when the absent parent dies” (or the hope that they will repent and change dies), “the fantasy dies too, and that is what you are grieving—the death of the fantasy that your dad (and/or mom) would repent and come through.

“The solution is to realize that there are seven billion people on planet earth and your father was just one of them. You don’t need his acceptance any more than you need the acceptance of my father, nor do I need the acceptance of your father. Your father is merely your genetic donor. Go ahead and grief his loss, and grieve the death of your fantasy. But realize that you do need to love and be loved by substitute fathers, perhaps even mothers, brothers and sisters. The church is one place to find them, but other close friends will help you too. Psalm 68 teaches us that God takes the lonely and places them in substitute families.”


Hi Kate, (readers, this is not the same Kate that usually contributes to this blog)
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
For the sake of all my readers, I have to write that I agree that we grieve the death of the fantasy of having acceptance, love and approval from our parents. I don’t agree with the final quotes that you have shared at the end of your comments. I find the author to be rather harsh. He makes it sound so easy to just “get over it” and he simplifies the actual problem. This is not a simple process. I could not just decide to move on.. there was a lot more to it then that. Most of us developed a belief system from childhood that I “needed” my parents in order to live. This is not undone so easily unless we take a close look at where those beliefs formed. I also do not agree that we NEED to love and be loved by substitute fathers, mothers,, brothers or sisters. I think we need to love ourselves first. I learned to parent myself and that was where all the healing and freedom came from. I looked for substitutes for YEARS and found only more disappointment until I did this work for myself.
My blog has a little different slant on things and how we truly heal, then the opinions in the information you shared. This healing approach is different.
Thank you for sharing, I hope you stick around and read more so that you decide for yourself if the way that I am sharing is more helpful or not then the way the author you are quoting shares.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Annette!
Thank you for stopping by and leaving your comment! You are exactly right!
Hugs, Darlene


OK, thank you for allowing me this privilege, Darlene here’s the link to my own story:

The Missionary Myth, Through the Eyes of a Missionary Kid


Thanks for sharing the link to your book Vivian!!
Hugs, Darlene


Over this past year I decided that happiness is over-rated. I came to this conclusion because for me, focusing on being happy stole time from being real. It meant there were frequent times of denial of feelings about difficult situations and people both past and present. I am someone that takes a very long time to process events and my feelings about them. I can and do decide to have a good day at work, even though it can be quite stressful. I can have the appropriate level of “happiness” there in order to do the job I have. My job is definitely a stretching experience. In deciding that for me, happiness is over-rated, I found freedom to express myself in writing, feel emotions about people I hadn’t allowed myself to in the past and be more creative. Perhaps in time I will be more happy after I allow the process of being unhappy to work itself through.


Happiness is not a choice for a lot of abuse survivors, especially when in the denial stage of things. For ten years I’ve been trying to’ find happiness’ in a clean house and routines (a la Flylady), hobbies, social circles (where I failed because I couldn’t be genuine), and my roles as mother and wife. I would ‘be happy’ for a while, and then a sense of emptiness and inability to ‘be happy’ would haunt me, as if I were trying to pursue some myth of happiness shrouded in a fog of utter sadness, making me wonder why I couldn’t be happy, if this was all there was to life, why was I making the choice to be miserable, etc. I didn’t have any answers. I was trying to fill a hole I didn’t know existed. It wasn’t until I came across a title of a book while shopping online for a laundry hamper (of all things), that resonated with me, entitled Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers. I clicked on the link and read the reviews, and then I researched narcissism online, and read until my head ached. For the first time I saw my mother’s behavior described perfectly, and my struggles. There were others struggling like me. I ordered a bunch of books that I have yet to read. I googled’ lack of self’ and found this wonderful blog. Now I understand the void I felt, and why it is there, and what I can do about it. I can go back to my hobby at last without associating the empty haunting feeling with it, and I can finally remind myself to enjoy the hobby for its own sake, not looking to it to fill an empty void left there by my mother, which is what I was doing will all the substitutes (clean house, social circles, etc).
Thanks Darlene for another insightful post. ((Hugs to all))


Darlene; what this post brings to mind is how I was responsible for making others happy and then supposed to choose to be happy in spite of being forced to be responsible to make others happy and ease THEIR distress. It was an impossible task. I never did achieve a place where I’d done enough or been enough to actually make anyone else happy. And while I could “fake it till you make it” for a time….stuffing my own despair and pain always resulted in some extreme state of being either over the top or completely shut down when I could carry the burden no longer. It was in facing the pain of the past that allowed me to begin to see that I no longer had to be responsible for others happiness and that I could actually choose to be happy but only after I felt my own pain and saw where it came from to begin with. 🙂 Awesome post…needed discussion. 🙂


Hello Sojourner
My happiness level went way up when I sorted through all the damage. One thing that I realized was that I didn’t really even know what happiness was… I thought it was that sort of manic feeling when I couldn’t sleep because I was so hyper.. LOL and I found out in healing that it is more of a peace… a serenity and contentedness of knowing that I know who I am. This is a whole other big topic!
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Veronica
I can really relate to your comments. I thought that “doing things” would make me happy too. I was so brainwashed that it was me, (and also the social brainwashing not to blame parents or childhood), that I just never went near the real roots of the problem.
I am so glad that you found my blog!!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Susan K.S.
There is so much to this whole thing that it is really hard to present all of it in just a few blog posts. I can’t believe how many different aspects there are to this whole topic of happiness and how many have been highlighted here. I believed with all my heart that it was up to me to take care of everyone, emotionally. Never once thinking that I deserved equality. I knew I was searching for someome to resuce me, but I didn’t realize it ~ taking care of others emotionally had been what was taught to me, and that was what I thought the answer would be FOR me. Life was just one long string of disapointments and let downs… until I found the truth.
Thanks for sharing
Hugs, Darlene


Amen to this post! At some point I stopped turning to friends for support because I heard the “happiness is a choice” speech so many times. It made me so mad… who on earth would choose to be unhappy? And then, yes, I felt like a complete failure because I couldn’t manage to get that right either!
One day I stumbled upon the writings of Pema Chodron, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. She wrote about leaning into your pain, accepting it, staying in that hurting place even though it feels counterintuitive, until you get. to. the. other. side.
So I did. And it happened. But I had to be very patient with myself and put some really big blinders on to all those happiness project and 30 days of happiness and chin-up, move-on, look-at-a-butterfly-and-forget-the-years-of-abuse posts.
Bottom line: I think that by letting ourselves have a few dark, dark painful times, we can acknowledge/validate the depths of our pain and FINALLY begin the healing process. Despite what the media and well-meaning but misguided people say, it’s okay and even healthy to feel deep emotional pain and sit with it for more than 5 minutes.
Thank you for saying something that needs to be said.


Hi Tara,
Welcome to emerging from broken,
Great points! Thank you for adding your voice to this. I agree ~ there is so much so called inspirational material out there that actually causes more damage via guilt and shame. I think that at the root of all the “forget the abuse ever happened” are a often times a group of people who either can’t face what happened to them so they invented all this goop to brainwash everyone that we can be happy and free without facing the truth ~ or they are abusers who don’t want to be exposed.
I began the REAL healing process when I faced the pain and the truth about where it came from. That is what this entire website/blog is about!
Hugs, Darlene


Patricia, Darlene’s post and your comment inspired me to write my own piece on happiness (it was too long of a response to put in the comments!) I believe we are most happy when we are spiritually, mentally, and physically healthy. Being healthy in all three areas brings optimum happiness. Many focus on one and neglect the others and that leaves one out of balance with only partial happiness obtainable. We can’t control everything that happens to us and we can’t be happy just by deciding we should be. Like everything that is worth-while in life, it takes work. I know it is possible because I am a happy person! Except, when I’m sad, or angry, but if I embrace those negative feelings and deal with them, I am returned to happiness much faster than if I stuff and ignore them. Anyway, as always at EFB, thanks for the inspiration!


I know Paul Meir is one of the good guys. It is unfortunate that he chose that misleading title. It also makes me sad when I think about the number of times I’ve heard that title used to make someone feel less than what they should be. Sometimes, people mouth things they hear like parrots and don’t stop to consider how what they say sounds to someone else. Then there are the bad guys who intentionally use such things to hurt and control others. Our words have amazing power to do good or to do evil. Thank you for blessing me with your good words.


Hi Pam!
(EVERYONE ~ you can visit Pam’s blog by clicking her name in her comment!)
Thanks for sharing this, and I will be sure to visit your blog to read your post! Hugs!! Darlene


Thanks, Darlene!:0)


i had many suicide attempts,many destructive behaviors like drinking and doing drugs to not feel anything /numb myself,i thought after i left that situation and “run away” when i was 23,it would make me forget the pain and sadness,but it never left me…NOW,after more than 10 years of being clear and focus about what really happened,it dawned on me that i am in my happiest state of my life now,even with the lack of financial and future is vague on what is ahead of me now,it does not erase the fact that because i am in my safest place now and with some good people in my life now,i am happier now.because i am more outspoken can speak and expose my truth,that something bad was done to me when i was 19 .i have never been happier,i was always drunk and high for many years,i can not call it happy because i remember it would make me cry more everytime i was high and drunk,i was never happy,the effect made me more sad and low,i would always cry and cry until i get to sad really.NOW,i am in my happy life because i know i can deal with my emotions no matter how painful without the help of any alcohol or drugs.or without resorting to bad relationships.happiness for me now is simple,being with my daughter,eating ice cream,walking in the malls,watching tv..simple things,i am not a really a loud person so i do not have to laugh out loud to show to other people i am happy now,i just DO not CARE anymore on what other people will say or think about me now,so this is happiness for me too.because for many years i have been pleasing them and protecting them but it made me more vulnerable ,so now…i am here in these blogs because it means i am doing my own emotions now for my own self care .and thank you for these blogs,it is giving me answers to my confusions in my emotions a lot.


G I all so drank and used drugs not until I got clean and sober was I able to even see the denial I was in from the childhood abuse that happened. I relate to your post I am safe and never been as peaceful and happy as I am now. It has been 16 years now that I started to work on myself and got clean and sober. Life is good. Happiness does not come from money it comes from being ok with who you are. Today I am me and I dont always know who I am but it is ok. I dont have to be anyone else like I used to be who ever I thought you wanted me to be. Thanks for your post. Hugs


Pam, thank you for sharing your post. I have found happiness for myself when I am in balance mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually as well. Even when I am in the middle of grieving as I have been in recent weeks, I am still better off than I have ever been because I know that the grieving is healthy. I know that I am processing through another issue and that I will feel better when I get through the issue. There will be that much more garbage that I have worked my way through and then reached the other side. As I let go of the garbage, that leaves room for longer bouts of happiness and laughter.



“I found real and lasting happiness when I faced the things that had caused me to be so unhappy in the first place. And now I really can choose my attitude. I found that being grateful, being able to sustain an attitude of gratitude came much easier after I faced the past and was allowed to have my resentments for the things that stole my happiness. When I gave myself permission to feel the anger and NOT judge myself for it, I didn’t have to fight it anymore. When I put the guilt,shame and blame back where it belonged and to who it belonged to, I was able to let go of guilt, shame and self blame. When I validated my right to be angry, hurt and resentful over the things that happened to me in the past, finally I was able to rise above the past. The anger, hurt and resentment were no longer a problem.”

Excellently put. Dealing with someone in my life now who questions why there are so many things now that I blame on the abuse of my past. Yes it is okay to place the blame where it belongs – on the adult not the child. Identifying cause is a mammoth step towards releasing oneself from guilt, and it is a hard journey but one well worth the effort!

Thanks again EFB and all who shared here for setting off another chain of thoughts and ideas as we all try to make some sense of it all. 🙂


Hi g.
I am so glad that you are here! I can relate to what you are saying and I also realized that pleasing and protecting others made me more vulnerable. I think it also sent the message to them that I was manipulate-able. Lots to that whole concept. OH and I also agree that I don’t have to PROVE I am happy either. So often i was told that I wasn’t when I was and then I felt like I had to “do something” to make them believe me when all along it was just more of their misuse of power and control over me.
Thanks for sharing G,
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Faith
OH yes, I relate completely! The child scapegoat thing has to be exposed. It is okay to put the blame where it belongs but no one likes it! So many people are deathly afraid of the truth! (which is an indicator that they too are afraid to face the truth. (not my problem anymore! ) But I got sick of the way that NOT facing the truth was keeping me sick.
Thanks for sharing and for being here
Hugs, Darlene


Last week there were some twits and tweets about #happiness, which prompted me to write the following note on my Facebook page. While it’s true that I had discussions with my therapist about being happy, it is also true that I have to TRY to be happy. Do I believe that “happiness is a habit?” I don’t know. I do still ask, “Why can’t I be happy?” I learned from a book about trauma that joy and other feelings of pleasure are often diminished in a trauma survivor. *** This is a conversation with my counselor on happiness.
Karen said, “Happiness evolves from a love-of-life perspective. Happiness flourishes in a moment of good feeling.”
I responded, “But do I even deserve to be happy? After all, I was a drug addict. I attempted suicide.”
“Everyone deserves happiness and good things in life,” Karen said.
“Isn’t it selfish to be happy when so many others are suffering?” I asked.
“On the contrary. To carry happiness into the world is a gift to others, who can then experience God’s great gifts of love and light.”
“Happy. I like the word. Happy sounds happy,” I laughed.
Give yourself permission to be happy. On a moment’s notice, do one thing that makes you feel happy for one second. Build on those moments, the seconds, the minutes, an hour of happiness, until you develop a feeling of pleasure. Do that which brings you joy. Bank on that feeling. Deposit it into your wellness account. It’s allowed.”


Christina wrote: “I became a much more positive person when I let myself be negative.” This is so true! It’s like saying “I became a more authentic person when I faced the truth and moved out of denial.” Joy wrote: “So for me happiness will be : becoming who I am suppose to be, finding who it is I am and what it is am to do and then going forward.” Joy, I daresay it already is happening because I’ve witnessed on this blog how you are evolving and becoming those very things, especially going forward with your healing. You (anyone) could just shut down, tune out, and get stuck. Veronica wrote about “social circles (where I failed because I couldn’t be genuine)” I wonder why Veronica feels its her failure? A couple of years ago, I decided to try to be a beauty consultant with a major direct sales company. I had noticed that survivors of trauma often neglected their innate and apparent beauty. I wanted to help women resurrect their beautiful inner and outer selves. There were weekly meetings of sales associates, monthly pow-wows, Saturday product demonstrations. I wanted to talk about recovery from trauma, hope for the future, and genuine feelings. Although everyone involved in the unit was friendly, I felt like something was missing. I could not be myself and talk about the impact of trauma on our sense of worthiness (i.e.. Loreal’s tag line: “because I’m worth it.” Sales calls became just that: SELL a product, when I wanted to illustrate a shift in perspective on a deeper level. YOU are worth it. I wanted communication; the company wanted commerce. I failed. Or did they fail me? All I know is I could not force it, whatever it was that the company needed from me, like more smiles and less depth. As for smiles, nothing irritates me more than when I am told to “smile.” In first grade, a nun said, “You, young lady, have nothing to frown about. What are your frowning at? Smile, for Pete’s sake.” Oh who knows why I was frowning in first grade? Perhaps it was because I had been kidnapped over the weekend, or had witnessed my father beat my mother, or a nun held a boy by the ear, or hit his knuckles with a ruler. Just smile! See how early it is that we are taught to pretend?


Hi Pam,

Thank you so much for letting me know something I wrote was a blessing to you! Your words blessed me 🙂 What you said about the power of words is so very true and I agree that the phrase employed in the title of that book is a phrase that can be used and understood in a very negative way, unfortunately. Its good that Dr. Meier explains repeatedly in the book what he means by the title, but it’s unfortunate that the title turns so many of us off and keeps us from reading it, isn’t it!

Hi Darlene,

I wonder if perhaps the reason the author of the quote came across as harsh in that quote is because he was focused on providing a very brief, concise article, which made his response to come across as overly simplistic? He is a professional counselor with 35 years of experience as a psychiatrist and founder of a chain of non-profit mental health clinics, and so he must surely know that simplistic answers seldom suffice. Also, he has stated elsewhere that there is no quick-fix solution that can resolve long-standing issues. From what I’ve read of him, I am convinced that he does not believe that we can just “get on with it” and move on, even if that brief quote might have given that unfortunate impression.

Similar to what you say, I would say that looking for substitute parents in our adulthood to provide us with all the unconditional, nurturing love and care that we missed from our childhood, will be sure to disappoint. We need to learn we have intrinsic value, and we must not allow other people, no matter who they are, to define our identity or value. (I believe that is God’s domain). However, that being said, I also believe that there is benefit and great blessing in developing relationships with other human beings who can affirm, encourage, and even offer loving correction, when needed. Perhaps this cannot totally make up for absent or abusive parents, but I believe the Creator made us social beings and that we are designed for mutually beneficial relationships with one another. He designed the family unit as an ideal place to learn to love and be loved (which also makes it the most painful place to not be loved.) I agree with Dr. Meier that we are built to benefit from being in relationship with caring people in our lives, including godly father and mother figures in our lives; I am not sure that he meant we find “substitute parents” in the sense of people we would depend on to adequately replace what was lacking in our relationship with our parents (that would be impossible), but rather (imperfect) people who are able to love us and offer support in the context of a caring, emotionally-connected relationship.

Re: learning to love ourselves– I agree there can be need for this. I can only say that in my own case, I came to realize that even though I despised certain things about myself, at the root of things, I truly did love myself, because I wanted to be loved the way I felt I deserved to be loved, I wanted to be listened to, affirmed, the way I felt I ought to be. I wanted to be valued and appreciated. I also wanted nice clothes, nice playthings, etc. If I had truly hated myself, I would not have cared about any of those things. I only hated that I wasn’t getting the things I wanted or as much as I wanted, from the people that I thought should provide them for me; others were not esteeming me the way I felt I ought to be esteemed. So for me, a lack of self-love was not the problem. My problem was that I was giving other people’s valuations of me more weight than what God had put within me (what I was aware of deep down inside), based on His valuation of me. He put it within me that I WAS valuable, and lovable, and that HE values and loves me. As a child, I did not have the ability to distinguish His voice above the others. As an adult, I can. This, for me, is the key to freedom and joy. Knowing that no matter if all the world treats me as dirt and rubbish, it does not diminish my Creator’s love for me. How He relates to me and what He says about who I am to Him is the thing that matters when it comes to self-esteem. So now when I live my life listening for His voice there is freedom and healing from the brokenness the world forced on me. And it frees me to be able to focus on Him and His ways, rather than being forever caught up on myself, my feelings, my desires, my pain, my sorrows and griefs etc. After all, He is the Daddy and I am but His child. I am convinced He has a lot to show me and teach me in His world. Its like coming out of a very small and confined place and stepping into a big beautiful world, ready to explore!

I am sorry that what stood out to you of what I shared earlier was something quite apart from where I was coming from. I was excited about the things that resonated with me in Dr. Meier’s articles, and I was focused on those. The final paragraph (more of the author’s quote) was shared because the first four sentences of it were statements that resonated with me. The mention of substitutes I simply took as an encouragement to reach out to others for helpful relationships rather than remaining stuck in chasing after or grieving the fantasy.

Perhaps his way is not as different from yours as it might first appear? I do not know Dr. Meir personally, and have not read through even one of his books at this point, but with the success of his clinics, and as the author or co-author of over 80 books, it seems apparent that he has helped thousands of hurting people deal successfully with all sorts of relational and psychological issues. I am concerned that he is being written off somewhat prematurely. Perhaps you could write him and air your concerns about some of his statements in those articles? It would be interesting to hear his response. I apologize for the length of this post!!!

Hugs to you!


Hi Kate
I hope that I didn’t offend you with my comments. I am not so concerned with what Mr. Meier does or his theory, as I am with the effects of the quotes on my readers. I too am a very successful professional and I share a process that worked for me to heal from something that the psychiatric community says takes between 10 and 15 years to heal from. I did it in 3 years because of the process that I write about here and a very brilliant therapist who used a more rare model of therapy. Root Cause Therapy or Casual therapy. Some of the stuff that other professionals write about kept me sicker and added to my guilt and shame and the feelings that I had of being a failure. I am not suggesting that is his intention at all. And I am sure that on some points he and I are coming from the same place. AND this is nothing against the Christian Faith, I am a follower of Jesus, but I had to find him on my own, and not by what everyone told me about him. I studied extensively (greek and hebrew word origins) for 8 years when I was still sick and got very confused at the conflict between what man taught and what Christ taught. I mostly leave all that directive stuff out of my blog now as it just works better for the readers.

I agree that we are created to have social interaction and community with each other ~ but I was not attracted to loving nurturing people. All I knew was abuse and it stands to reason that I had become comfortable with it. The “godly people” that I met didn’t end up being so godly. They offered correction all right but really it was about their own judgement. I didn’t have any emotionally connected relationships for a long time. I attract many of these same kinds of readers… people who are badly broken and have little trust. The process of healing that I went through taught me to put things through a different grid of understanding. I gave myself permission not to trust everyone for the first time ever. (tons of stuff about this in this site)

I write about what worked for me. And I don’t want to endorse what actually got in my way. That is why I didn’t agree with what you posted from Paul Meir. I had to put ALL definitions everyone gave me about me aside. God himself had never spoke to me about how He felt about me, but man told me plenty. I had to find my value on my own before I could accept it even from God. And remember I was devoted to God for years before I recovered. That is just the way it worked for me and that is how I present it here. You are welcome to share whatever you like here, (and please don’t worry about the length of it) but I reserve the right to censor certain links. You might understand when you read more of this blog. I am just careful about how others are influenced because of how the healing process worked for me and where the stick points were.
I hope that you understand. I admire your love of God and I share it with you. Thank you for coming back to share this with me.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Susan KS,

Your post #42 was one that took the words right out of my mouth. I’m still learning to explain things clearly without going in circles, and you wrote out your thoughts beautifully. Thank you for posting that!

Hi Lynn,

I loved your post #56, conversation with your therapist. It made me smile. As for ‘failing’ in social circles, I too was a beauty consultant for a while, but it felt empty to me, probably for the same reason you felt it. They have good sales copy about empowering women, but in the end it’s about the bottom line, and that just left a bad taste in my mouth. To answer your question: “I wonder why Veronica feels its her failure?”, I meant that the social circles were a failure for me because they left me feeling dissatisfied with this gnawing emptiness inside that no one could touch. I am sociable, friendly, supportive (probably too much as a result of always wanting to please everybody), but because I really had no sense of self, I felt that all my friends didn’t REALLY know the real ME, heck, I did’t know the real me, so how could they? And on some deep level I was sure that if they knew the real me, they’d reject me. So I always had that invisible barrier between me and my friends, and I felt that the social circles and friendships failed because I wasn’t genuine with them. Hence their honest friendship was something I felt I couldn’t depend on, not really. I didn’t want to take the risk, and most of the time I was probably oblivious to it, it was more of a subconscious thing, but I saw my value as a friend not for what they saw in me, because I had ‘faked’ myself, but for what I could do for them. Susequently, these relationships, while fine on the surface, were a failure at filling that hole inside me I barely recognized I had, that hole my parents left due to their neglect and narcissism. I hope that made sense. Thanks for asking the question. I plan on being more genuine with my friendships from now on, now that I’m getting a sense of the real me, at last. And yes, how early our feelings get discounted! I was told I looked like an ogre when I frowned, I remember as young as four or so, and at that time I already thought myself ugly and unlovable (the first time I heard the story of the Ugly Duckling I cried, because I identified with it so much, but I believed there was no happy ending for me), because of things my mom would say to others about me in my hearing, so being told this terrified me! So of course I learned very quickly to fake it.

Hi Kate,
I’m currently reading a book by Paul Meier, et al, entitled You might be a Narcissist If…and I think I agree with your assessment. I believe the tone of this book, and probably his others, are written in a way to grab a reader’s attention quickly and offer a layman’s quick and dirty interpretation of the issues he talks about, leaving the more serious work to be done in therapy or through other means of guidance. More than likely he has grown accustomed to delivering the core of what he talks about in a highly marketable fashion, as editors are prone to like. I have only read this one book, and I’m almost done with it, and for a newbie who wants to learn what Narcissism is, his book gets the job done. If I want to delve deeper, I’ve got other books. Having said that, the reason why I’m not done with the book is because I found EFB and I find that’s all I’m reading now, lol.
Thanks to everyone who posts. It helps tremendously.


Veronica:) it took some time to wade through the muck to discover clarity for me…I appreciate your note:) Thank you!


Hi Lynn
That has been true for me. My happiness has touched the lives of others that I never would have touched had I stayed in the old mindset. It was people who taught things like “not deserving happiness” and I had to get past the lies that I had been told from the words, actions and judgements of other people. That was the real work; looking at the lies that I didn’t ever know were lies and finding the real truth.
Hugs, Darlene


Veronica, everything you said makes sense to me. You were a beauty consultant too? I felt like a failure: If so many women are happy and empowered selling beauty products, why can’t I be like them? I thought that one of my strengths (yes, I am claiming a strength!) was that I can be deep and sincere with people. But I could not trust that the other consultants were sincere towards me. Just another job failure for me. I don’t work other than as an author and advocate. I would love to earn money. I find that I am fulfilled via helping others get to a deeper level of their being and come through darkness to find a glimmer of light. I am afraid that I am one of those people that could achieve a best seller, and not be happy, or win a million dollars, and not be happy, or have the ideal relationship, and not be happy. Fulfilled? Yes. Happy? In a moment in time. At least, when I am happy in a moment, it is authentic, and not based on another’s assessment of what should make me happy, and how that should look.


I think we should factor the realty of the physiological dynamics that are in play with clinical depression if we are going to discuss the mindset of causal depression.
There is a definitive definite genetic link to depression and anxiety. I think it does a disservice to a depression diagnosis to not take into account the very real fact that symptoms of this condition are not all entirely a matter of being managed with the mind alone.


Learning to love myself has been the most important job that I have ever taken on. Part of that meant surrounding myself with people who loved me and watching how they showed their love. Loving myself meant letting some people leave my life and inviting others in who were healthier than those who left.

The process of learning to love myself was slow in happening. It wasn’t just the decision to be happy and to love myself. Processing took time with mistakes and learning from those mistakes. Loving myself, which I have forgotten recently means not letting others tell me what I am feeling or thinking or being.

Taking responsibility for my own life, my own mistakes, my talents, my own thoughts and feelings is part of loving myself in a healthy way. Letting go of denial was part of the process. Not letting what others think or say about me affect my center and staying balanced in the middle instead of only black and white thinking is part of loving myself.

Remembering that what others think about me is none of my business is part of loving myself. Not letting others approval of me come at the expense of my own approval of me is important. I forgot that this month.

Being open to seeing old patterns of behavior that are not healthy for me is loving myself. Being willing to either change or let go of those behaviors that are no longer for my benefit and good is loving myself. All of this is important to my well being and loving myself.


Hi Leslie,
I don’t believe that is reality anymore. I was told that all my life too; My depressions began when I was a kid, and both my grandmother and my mother had chronic depressions… but when I found complete healing by facing the origins of where it all started.. (and know others who have done the same) I no longer believe the things that I used to believe. Those things ran my life and ruined it. I don’t have to accpet that kind of hopeless truth anymore. I recovered in spite of this “evidence”. I think that if you read more of my blog, you might understand why I feel so strongly about this. My message is different ~ and it works!
Hugs, Darlene


Patricia ~Love this!!

You worte: “Remembering that what others think about me is none of my business is part of loving myself. Not letting others approval of me come at the expense of my own approval of me is important.”

This is what I found too! Thanks for sharing.
Hugs, Darlene


HI Patricia

Not letting what others think of me be a bother . .is a very hard thing for me. especially if they go out of their way to make sure I feel what they want me to feel..

I hope I can come to that point you speak of. because right now. am being emotionally bullied every time I run into someone who use to be my friend in the store..

It’s a very hard thing for me to have friends for a decade and then to lose them in a matter of seconds over things that really should not matter like: what religion one embraces or choosing therapy or not.


Joy, finding out that our friends don’t want what is best for us can be sad. In the beginning of healing and learning to love myself, some of my friends walked away or I did because they couldn’t relate to the new me. Sadly it does happens.

Some of those friends just had a different path to go down than I did. Those friends I still love and remember what they taught me when we were closer. Leaving doesn’t mean that they were bad people or abusers, it just means they had different lessons to learn than I did.

Some of those that leave are abusers. They always leave when we get healthier and refuse to live with the abuse any longer. When we refuse to be abused, they find someone else who will allow it. Be glad to see those people go. Sometimes the abusers are friends and sometimes they are family members. Family is harder to walk away from but sometimes, for our healing, walking away is necessary.

I have a family reunion coming up this weekend for my dad’s side of the family. I look forward to seeing some of them and being able to introduce my daughter-in-law to them for the first time. Others are still living in and even spreading the effects of alcoholism and incest. Those I don’t interact with so much. They all know about my blog and that I speak out about incest. Most of them pretend that the family is normal and healthy. They don’t want to know about the secrets and the harm that those secrets are doing within the family unit. I can’t do anything to help those people that don’t want to be helped. It isn’t my responsibility to fix them. Relationships with family are often the most difficult.



I agree them walking away from me doesn’t make them bad .. makes them blind to how they have hurt me

I have been told there is a family reunion ni myy family by a relative who also told me that my name was on the “Do not contact list” really makes one feel warm in side knowing that? Not!

I cannot be glad.. although i can at the moment “accept” that some are out of my life. I think it takes time to come to a point of feeling glad about losing people..even bad people..especially if they are suppose to be family.

I hope your “reunion” goes well i will pray hard that you are not hurt or saddened in any way.

THank you for responding.



Joy, you walking away from them, even when they are abusers and especially when they are family, means that you have the job of grieving their loss. That may be where you are right now.

With my abusers, I have reached the point of being glad that they are out of my life. I wasn’t glad when I was going through the loss and the grief of that loss. Grief is healthy and it comes with every loss no matter how small. I believe that once we start to heal, for most of us, the first thing that we feel is the loss and the grief of that loss. That is why in the beginning everything can feel so overwhelming. The enormity of the grief can almost be too much to handle. Sometimes I would shut down or try to go back into the denial of earlier stages but I couldn’t. Once the denial is striped away, there is no going back. Grief is the most tiring emotion that I have ever felt. Some days it was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other and stay on the path in front of me. At some point, I realized that as tiring as it was to feel the grief and work my way through it, I was better off than I had ever been. Finally the grief started to lesson and I could still see clouds in the sky but I could also see the sun breaking through into my awareness.

I have revisited grief again and I even wrote about being in grief twice over the past month on my blog Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker. The grief was different this time, or I should say, more accurately, I was different in letting myself fully feel the grief. Each time the grief came and stayed for about 3 days before it began to lift. The grief happened because of the ending of a friendship. The letting go was painful. The ah-ha moment that I got yesterday was that I was allowing what another person thought of me to be more important than my own feelings and thoughts. This was really big for me. I didn’t realize that I was doing that. I can appreciate your thoughts and approval of me and of what I think or say, but your approval shouldn’t direct how I feel about me and it was.

In the past month, I have joined a meditation group which I haven’t been a part of a spiritual group in a very long time. The meditations that I have been doing each day helped me to stay relatively grounded through out the past month. They have also heightened my intuition so that I will start having more ah-ha moments because I am centered and grounded.



you are right am just at the beginning stage of “Feeling” the grief and its so intense.. Sometimes I resolve to be so strong and then I am flattened out face to the ground with emotions running all over me. I keep questioning ..second guessing . .am I doing the right thing. I come to a conclusion that “yes I am dong the right thing’ and celebrate the victory of believing this then the thoughts come back again..

I had been a very spiritual person all my life. and questioning my doing right is a very big thing. I don’t want to do wrong; to do evil.

I will have to go read your blog . .I am in a class for college that is so so very triggering . it asks us to evaluate ourselves.. past work experiences ..relationships and recalling past work is all so hurtful..

Evaluating myself as part of this class assignment ended up re affirming that I need therapy.. I had to take a 20 question test as part of week one assignment and in the end i scored 10/20 which indicated i was very badly needing some therapy and my self esteem was very low..

Sigh. I didnt need my college class to point this out but being I was going to major in psychology before all the 2009 nonsense started .. i have to deal with lots of psych classes and many really reopen the wounds ..

i do meditate twice daily. that is how I come to write my poems. T taught me of going to the safe place which really is just going into a meditation

sometimes when I am triggered i go to my safe place more than twice .. the other night i was there 3 times.

Thank you for point out the steps you are taking and assuring me what I am going through is normal



My mother is dying of Alzheimer’s and metastatic breast cancer, which ever gets her first. She’s 79 and lives with my step-father of 50 years in Arizona. He is her care-taker, along with hospice, in the home. I never loved him, but we have tried to get along. As of 10 years ago, he knows about the abuse by my father and brother. My father killed himself long ago. My brother lives in PA. Last October, when I was visiting my mother to get hospice in place, I told my step-father that if he plans a memorial for my mother, don’t plan on me being there IF my older brother comes from PA to AZ. My step-father got so mad I was afraid he’d have a stroke. “What do you mean you won’t come? I think that’s rotten that you won’t come for your mother.” I said, “I’m here now, while she is alive, doing what I can.” Then I asked him, if my rapist was someone who was walking the street, and came to the memorial service, would he, my step-father, expect me, the victim, to be in the same place at the same time for the sake of my dead mother? Not on your life. I may not be happy all the time, but I am NOT going to do something that brings me to despair. I don’t care if he thinks it’s rotten. The less I listen to him, the more I can listen to my own intuition, which is telling me not to go. This is a major shift in doing something for the love of my spirit, rather than deconstructing myself to make others happy. Which I never could, so why continue with him (step-father.)


Hi Lynn
I can relate to these thoughts. I have had a similar conversation with a few people. I don’t think we go to funeral or memorial services to support the dead anyway. I agree with your thoughts here. My mother tried to convince me that I should have a relationship with my brother. The whole “family thing” and “oh you were just kids”… it still makes me cringe. I am true to myself today. I don’t bow to the requests of others when they are hurtful to me. I also no longer worry about the way that others think OR react to my decisions.
Thanks for sharing this. Hugs and love, I know this can’t be easy.
Hugs, Darlene


Thanks for your response Darlene.


Thanks for your response to my comments. I totally agree with you 🙂

Thanks for taking the time to explain. I respect your perspective. And I’m thrilled that you have found what works for you, and that you are in turn helping so many thousands of others! What you’re doing is powerfully impacting so many people!
Since we’re all different, perhaps we can find help in different ways, at times. All I can say is that I came across some things which Dr. Meier wrote that helped me, and my thought was to share that help with others, to pass along the blessing. I didn’t realize that his ways conflict with yours, or that some things he says could actually get in the way of someone’s progression of healing! That is the last thing I would want. I apologize for posting something you felt inappropriate and possibly with a unhelpful effect on your readers.

Since I am still not totally clear on the specifics of how your way differs from someone like Dr Meier et al. I want to check into the differences. Perhaps you have an article about the specifics of how your approach differs? (I am not really familiar with his approach, either, so it is hard for me to compare!) Obviously, you have a good thing going that more people need to hear about! Perhaps if you shared your story and your methods with him, Dr. Meier’s could learn some things that would increase the impact of his ministry tremendously if he implemented the necessary changes. Wouldn’t that be fantastic?! Maybe I am too naive to think that way, but hopefully he and other professionals like him are open to examining the effectiveness of different approaches?

Thank you for providing a place where it is safe to express one’s faith without fear of being bashed. I agree, and I think Dr Meier would agree(?), that we have to put ALL definitions of what other people say about who we are aside. When I began to do that, it created a quietness in which I was able to “hear” God’s voice that brought hope and healing.

As a child and as a teenager, I wasn’t able to “find my own value” as you say, because my definitions of what constituted value, which I’d absorbed from the world around me, were skewed. Since I deemed myself not popular enough, not pretty enough, not athletic enough, not artistic enough, not rich enough, not (fill-in-the-blank) enough, I could not see much value in myself, and so I concurred with what seemed to be everyone else’s opinion. That’s why I needed to become aware of God’s valuation of me. Since that time, I’ve become less concerned with who I am, and have learned that its far more exciting and meaningful to learn who my Daddy is. Because He loves me. He’s good and He’s great, and I’m a part of His family;the knowledge of those things is what has formed a foundation for me that allows me to be less self-consumed than I used to be and focus more on Him and on the needs of others.

I may be mistaken, but I believe our Creator embeds within each of us before we are birthed, the knowledge that we have value simply because we “are” and He created us. However, that “still, small voice” is all too easily drowned out amidst the din of the world around us– the accusing, angry, and mocking voices of influential people in our lives who inform us that we have no or little value. So we question, discount and ignore that quiet voice, and tend to believe the louder, painfully negative voices that dominate our lives day after day. For some of us, instead of the Creator’s affirming voice being reinforced by others, it is constantly contradicted and negated.
I believe that although our inner ears were made to hear the affirming voice of our Creator, when they suffer a daily onslaught of violent and deafening assault, they are damaged so that we become deaf to Higher frequency sound waves(so to speak)– and we lose the ability to hear His words of love and affirmation. Its as if He had never, ever, spoken into us. All we hear is the value-robbing negative messages of violent earth-dwellers saying we are no good, and will never amount to anything; that we’re mistakes, irreparably flawed, worthless and hopeless, undeserving of love, time or favorable attention; we’re second-rate losers that will never measure up, etc. etc. and so we we come to believe them.
I, too, love what Patricia said! ~~Thanks for that, Patricia!~~ Once I realized I was giving far too much credence to others’ (disapproving) voices, and stopped transferring parental-figure and others disapproval to my heavenly Daddy, as if their voices were His–things began to change, and I began to heal.

Hope its okay if I share the following analogy? When he walked this earth, Jesus/Yeshua healed the blind and the deaf, but there is no one so blind and deaf as someone like me, who was blind to His love and deaf to His voice. That is the greatest sort of blindness and deafness, and makes for the greatest sort of healing! I pray for healing for each and every wounded, hurting person who reads your blog, Darlene. Children don’t choose to be blind and deaf; its done to them. But as we grow, we can begin to learn to distinguish between the good and the bad, the human,skewed, and the divine, true. I got angry when I realized I had wasted so many years living out of a false paradigm and allowing others to define me! Sometimes I still find myself falling back into that rut– but I am getting quicker at realizing it and getting back up again. Thanks for your help, Darlene! Hugs to you! I love reading everyone’s comments– as someone else has previously mentioned, they’re all so helpful, in various ways! … Okay, since you said so, I won’t apologize for the length of this, but I do sincerely thank anyone who took the time to read it!


Kate, you are very welcome. Glad my words make a difference for you.


Wow! Each of your posts (at least the ones I’ve read so far) could be lifted from my own journal entries. I was honestly beginning to believe that I was the only one who felt this way and had these thoughts and that I was completely crazy. I’ve only recently given up on the idea of choosing to be happy. The guilt was just more than I could handle & I finaly realized it wasn’t doing me any good at all.


Hi Kim
Welcome to Emerging from Broken! The reason that I write is because I found out how many of us really feel this way… it is like the worlds best kept secret! Turns out that the key to happiness is not about choice but rather about facing the WHY I was unhappy ~ the truth of it.. not the doctored version that I had been fed my whole life. The best part is that today I AM happy because I don’t live in the lie anymore.
Great to have you here.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi All
I wanted to share a post related to this one;

“Isnpirational Quotes that Cause harm saying ” how you got screwed up”

You can read it here;

Hugs, Darlene


Another related post I just published:

Understanding depression and that “sinking I can’t breathe” feeling

you can read it here;


[…] broken.  What happened to my self esteem in the first place? How did my self esteem get so low? What happened to me? That was where the keys were and those were the keys that led to […]


It has been a year since I wrote this post and it still gets traffic. This was one of the most shared posts of the year when I wrote it. I am re-opening comments on it.
Hugs, Darlene



I believe I do have a choice in whether or not I WILL BECOME happy. I can choose whether or not I faced the pain, the past, the abuse. When I realized I could make that CHOICE, I wasn’t guilt ridden…I was EMPOWERED and DETERMINED to do it. I was because I KNEW happiness was on the other side of that pain.

I have found that to be exactly true for me.

And I’m glad I made that choice.


Happiness is not a decision when you have a illness like Depression or Bipolar Disorder. You don’t get to decide what you feel when your brain is overcome with chemicals that influence your synapses to misfire.
Tell someone that has PTSD that they have the choice to be happy when they are suffering symptoms like flashbacks, nightmares or anxiety. Better yet tell a woman with PMS that they get to decide to be happy when they’re dealing with hormonal changes.
Don’t get me wrong. I am really very glad that you posted this and I know this is suppose to be about abuse and those kind of situations. The fact of the matter is that many different people experience abuse even while other things are going on in their lives. There is more that I could write on this. The fact is that you can make as many decisions as you like in life. Some decisions are not under our control.


Hi Kelli
I LOVE what you said! YES I made the decision that I would become happy too! The first time I got a glimmer of hope that it was possible I made the decision to do what ever it took to do it! and I did!
Thanks for sharing! I am glad that you made that coice too!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Biploar Bear
Yes, it is very damaging to tell someone that they can choose to be happy or not when they are struggling with abuse or the effects of abuse.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene I’d forgotten all about the “you look better/are pretty when you smile” and the being cajoled to smile when I did not feel like it, to get the response when I grudgingly complied, “that’s better!”. I felt so self-conscious and embarrassed when they did that; I think I know now why I still feel like that and awkward in company, and find eye contact so difficult. I was also told I was ‘sullen’. I found I couldn’t choose to be happy either. It’s only now with some healing behind me that I can feel a bit of happiness sometimes and it does seem to be spontaneous.


I totally identify with your letter. I have been a lot happier a lot more often these days. I hadn’t really realized before I read this how much impact it has had on my life…. not being able to choose to be happy. I think my own family was my biggest stumbling block too! My mother and sisters have always encouraged each other to be happy and not say negative things, and would scold me for being too negative, when I was unhappy. To this day, I’m afraid to say anything negative on Facebook because I’m afraid everyone will think badly of me if I do. So, I subscribe to all the positive writers and share their quotes and only share the positive Bible scriptures. I have done a lot of healing and really am happy most of the time, these days, but there’s always that underlying sadness that rears it’s ugly head when ever I hear of anyone else being abused the way I have been. I am the only one in my family who was abused sexually, physically and verbally. I was the proverbial whipping boy for my step-father. And then, of course, I went on to choose abusive men. But I’ve never been able to talk about it out loud, except for in a counseling situation. So thank you, all of you, for making me feel comfortable enough to tell you about it.



Hi Tina
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
It has been key for me to talk about my childhood in order to validate that what happened to me was wrong and was the cause of my depressions etc. I am so happy that you are feeling comfortable enough here to tell me about yours. Please feel free to share whatever you like.
Hugs, Darlene


Wow, firstly l can understand why this topic is so popular!. Happiness, after all, is what everybody strives for. Even the richest people with everything they can possibly want, can be the most unhappiest/loneliest people on earth. How many famous people have died of drug overdoses and then its reported they were depressed? Or perhaps they take their own life. Shouldn’t they have been happy? They had everything they could possibly want, which may include a wife, children, and a large group of friends. Even the prestige. We all know, that happiness comes from within our soul. Although, not having to struggle financially would make life a lot easier.

Secondly, like some, l do wonder if it is a choice? Well it definitely requires a conscious effort. Also a determination to not let life’s little hurdles bring us down.

John Gray from his book ‘What you feel you can heal’ talks about recovering buried emotions. Emotions such as anger, hurt and sadness, fear and insecurity and GUILT. This he says, is essential for feeling motivated and purposeful. He talks about how repressing our feelings is actually a safety mechanism that we develop over the years. As a result of this repression, we stop feeling and start figuring out how we should feel. I like how he likens about repression to that of an emotional graveyard. Feelings never die, they come back to haunt us. How many of us can relate to this?

I think, if l really take a good hard look at where l am at the moment, can see that some of my repression of the negative emotions repressed and l have become numb. John talks about this. He says ‘repressing your feelings gradually numbs your ability to feel’. To me, being stuck in this rut makes trying to be happy and positive, quite impossible. Even sadness eludes me, although l feel anger (for some reason). Which going by the iceberg effect model, is just under the surface of how l promote myself.

I think to decide to be happy is achievable (I’ve yet to get there and keep it!) and l think l have a lot of work to do uncovering all those hidden feelings and working on that. The ‘How’ to part still eludes me. It’s like looking for something in the dark and then not knowing what it is you are looking for.


Wow, firstly l can understand why this topic is so popular!. Happiness, after all, is what everybody strives for. Even the richest people with everything they can possibly want, can be the most unhappiest/loneliest people on earth. How many famous people have died of drug overdoses and then its reported they were depressed? Or perhaps they take their own life. Shouldn’t they have been happy? They had everything they could possibly want, which may include a wife, children, and a large group of friends. Even the prestige. We all know, that happiness comes from within our soul. Although, not having to struggle financially would make life a lot easier.

Secondly, like some, l do wonder if it is a choice? Well it definitely requires a conscious effort. Also a determination to not let life’s little hurdles bring us down.

John Gray from his book ‘What you feel you can heal’ talks about recovering buried emotions. Emotions such as anger, hurt and sadness, fear and insecurity and GUILT. This he says, is essential for feeling motivated and purposeful. He talks about how repressing our feelings is actually a safety mechanism that we develop over the years. As a result of this repression, we stop feeling and start figuring out how we should feel. I like how he likens about repression to that of an emotional graveyard. Feelings never die, they come back to haunt us. How many of us can relate to this?

I think, if l really take a good hard look at where l am at the moment, can see that some of my repression of the negative emotions repressed and l have become numb. John talks about this. He says ‘repressing your feelings gradually numbs your ability to feel’. To me, being stuck in this rut makes trying to be happy and positive, quite impossible. Even sadness eludes me, although l feel anger (for some reason). Which going by the iceberg effect model, is just under the surface of how l promote myself.

I think to decide to be happy is achievable (I’ve yet to get there and keep it!) and l think l have a lot of work to do uncovering all those hidden feelings and working on that. The ‘How’ to part still eludes me. It’s like looking for something in the dark and then not knowing what it is you are looking for.

I should be happy. I have 3 healthy daughters, a roof over my head and food on the table. When l’m having one of my down moments (and there are plenty of those), l try and be grateful for what l have. I think of others who are not so fortunate in this world. There are lots of external factors which are out of my hands, it the ones within that l have the power to change.. and change for the better.. To happy 🙂


Hi Kylie
Gratitude is a great way to balance emotions, but I had to actually feel some of the feelings that I had neglected to feel or not been permitted to feel so that I could actually live in gratitude. That was a huge part of the recovery process for me. I thought I could decide to be happy but until I found the reasons that I was so unhappy, happiness of any lasting kind, was not somehting I had the power to choose. So yes it is achievable as you say, when you uncover all those hidden feelings and stick points. I had to take a close look at where the unhappy began or the origin of broken. It was there that I found the false beliefs about myself that were in my way.
Hugs, Darlene


Excellent article and very powerful. I’m not sure how many times I was told to ‘smile’ ‘be happy’, ‘cheer up’ among other unhelpful directives whilst growing up, but thankyou for exposing the lies taught to us. The information you post is so validating and healing.

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