The Jonah Complex
The Jonah Complex is simply the subconscious fear of success that prevents us from reaching our full potential. It is a major obstacle for self actualization and denies one’s own greatness. The fear of failure sometimes motivates us to work for success but the fear of success can also lead us to failure. It works both ways.
The term was coined by Abraham Maslow to represent a passage from the bible representing the same idea. As Maslow says, “”So often we run away from the responsibilities dictated (or rather suggested) by nature, by fate, even sometimes by accident, just as Jonah tried—in vain—to run away from his fate”.
There are three main reasons why people are afraid of success, and they are:
- Fear of the sense of responsibility that often attends recognizing our own greatness, talents, potentials
- Fear that an extraordinary life would be out of the ordinary, and hence not acceptable to others
- Fear of seeming arrogant, self-centered, etc
All these fears stem from not wanting to grow, not wanting to be out of our comfort zone. In order to become more of who we truly are we need to step out of our comfort, for new experiences bring growth factors and wisdom. Try new things.
Do things that make you feel fear. This is one of the best ways to have a rapid increase in personal growth, by facing our fears. Come to a realization that fear is only just an emotion, and shouldn’t stop your actions.
Fear Is An Illusion
Don’t be afraid of fear. Do things that you wouldn’t even think of doing. Stay in a remote village in the Himalayas, take a one month lifestyle challenge, take a a spiritual retreat, help build a community centre in Africa or even go pick silk with the mountain people of Thailand. These are all growth building experiences and will take you to do things you’ve never done before.
Doing things that take you out of your comfort zone helps you overcome the Jonah complex, as from these things you will grow as a person and become a better you. You can’t help but become more fulfilled, and live a successful life in whatever way you define it.