A lot of people are afraid of failure, but do you know anyone who is afraid of success? You probably do. So today, let’s talk about this surprisingly common problem.
Abraham Maslow, one of the 20th Century’s great psychologists, called it a “Jonah Complex,” because Jonah chose to turn his back on the great things God had planned for him. Of course, the Bible tells us that Jonah eventually found himself inside the belly of a great fish, but most people who fear success eventually find themselves consumed with regrets for things that might have been.
American journalist, Sydney J. Harris once wrote, “Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.” We turn away from the challenges that will bring us success for many reasons. Fear of the unknown, certainly is one reason. Mainly, we just don’t believe we have what it takes to pull it off. Our self-efficacy is low, which means we have a low estimation of what we can cause or make happen for ourselves or others.
However, self-efficacy can be improved. We aren’t born with a certain level of efficacy. It’s a learned appraisal of our abilities. And if we can learn one estimate, we can certainly learn another, higher level. We can do it by remembering successes we’ve had in the past and imagining ourselves repeating similar successes in new situations.
Make a list of all the qualities you possess that you consider to be strengths. Think back on what you have done, so far, in your life. You will find that you have done a lot, and successfully, too. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and what you can do. There is always greater strength in numbers, as well as the self-confidence you can draw from that support.
You see, you can take on challenges that are bigger than you are right now and then grow into them. And you can control your self-talk and your negative thinking so that you don’t stop yourself before you start. Regret for things not done is not a necessity. Live your life in the present so that your regrets won’t weigh you down in the future.