Self-Sabotage: The Strange Fears of Love, Success, and Happiness

Doubt your doubts! Success, love, and happiness are on the other side of your fear!

There are three fears that I find the strangest. There are SO many phobias known to man. There’s no limit to phobias because as soon as a new one appears, they just add it to the list. There are some very strange ones like geniophobia – fear of chins, consecotaleophobia – fear of chopsticks, anablephobia – fear of looking up, and one of my person favorites, zemmiphobia – fear of the great mole rat. (these people fear that giant rats are plotting against them.)

But even with all those peculiar ones, I find three in particular even stranger than that. They are the fear of being loved, the fear of happiness, and the fear of being successful. I believe the fear of success, love, and happiness are even more common than the well-known fear of death, fear of failure, and fear of being disliked and disapproval.

I love this quote by Marianne Williamson:

“Our biggest fear is not that we are inadequate
our biggest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure
we ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.
We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us,
and as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”

From what I’ve read in different books, I feel as if the main reason people fear success is because they fear people resenting them because of it. People fear being an outcast NOT because they are disapproved of because of being a failure; people fear being an outcast based on being disapproved of for being A GREAT SUCCESS. I believe that just like plant seeds, we have potential to become as big as even a huge sequoia tree. But if we’re afraid of being a great, big sequoia, we’ll stunt our growth at the size of a bush or a blade of grass in order to fit in with others and make them happy with us. Let yourself grow to the full-size that God put in you to get to!

In middle school, I had some friends who didn’t do very well in school. I always did well in school, so the teachers asked me to be in the advanced program. But I didn’t want to leave my friends behind, so I stayed behind. I could have learned so much more and done better in college perhaps from the advanced learning, but I didn’t want to be an outcast. Even with people now, I oftentimes downplay my intelligence and skills so that they won’t resent me. I know that most people can appreciate others’ success, but haters do exist. I don’t let people know all of what I know because I feel that they may think that I think that I’m better than them when that is so not the case.

Next, from what I’ve read and witnessed, there’s the fear of being loved. Many people unknowingly have this fear. People with this phobia will test their girlfriend or boyfriend to see just how much they love them. For some reason, some people deem themselves as unlovable or at least unworthy of love, so when some guy or girl comes around professing their quote unquote love for them, they proceed to prove the boyfriend or girlfriend wrong and to prove their negative self-view as correct. Even if the significant other did love them, they make sure to scare them off with tests so that their self-view is secure regardless of how wrong and negative it is.

For example, some women will pick the DUMBEST fights with their guy, and if he lets them win and don’t argue back, then they say, “He must really love me!” But because they are still convinced that no one could possibly love them, they find another test the next day. You’d be amazed if people told you the type of things they did to test people. Some men will cheat on their girlfriends with some they both know and make sure that the girlfriend finds out about it just so that they could know if she did love him by sticking around.

Of course, we know that testing people like that is very dysfunctional and that no self-respecting guy or girl would hang around to continue in that dance of dysfunction. I learned that no matter how hard you try, you can’t prove to someone that they are lovable; they have to find out for themselves by knowing how much God and Jesus love them. When you begin to internalize that God loved you so much that He gave His own Son to die for you, you slowly start to realize that, “Hey! If the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe and the Originator and Embodiment of Love loves me, then SURELY I must be lovable! I’m going to start believing people when they say it unless they prove it otherwise!” One way you can tell if you think you’re lovable is if you can look in the mirror and say with 100% certainty and with a smile, “I AM LOVABLE!” Some people can’t even look at the mirror and look themselves in the eye and say that and others can’t do it without crying.

I learned from books I’ve read that some people fear love because they think that they may lose it in a dramatic way. They may fear that the person will die soon, that the person may betray and hurt them, that the person may humiliate them by leaving them, and/or that the person may be pretending to love them when they really don’t. You also may fear that if the person you’re in a relationship with REALLY knew who you were, they’d run screaming in the other direction. You may fear that if she or he knew your ugly childhood, your dysfunctional family, or your weaknesses, downfalls, and imperfections that they would stop loving you. So instead of all that risk, you may just decide to avoid love all together. So when you do meet someone that you could potentially be happy with, you may find little silly reasons to rule him or her out. You might say silly things like, “He has bad teeth, his feet are ugly, I don’t like dudes with long hair, she’s too tall, she’s too cheerful, etc., etc.”

All of these little requirements and standards for your boyfriend or girlfriend are really just subconscious ways to keep you single – to keep you from getting hurt and to keep you from being loved because, to you, being loved is risky and is against what you believe that you’re worthy of. This dynamic is also in play when women purposely or unintentionally choose bad men to date because they honestly feel that in their heart no one can really love them. So they think that an abusive, unfaithful man is what their unlovable self deserves. I noticed that girls who have good, loving dads in the home tend to go for good, loving men. But girls who have abusive or dead-beat dads tend to go for the same type of men. They learn at a young age that either no man can love them OR that every man has to treat them right because how things were with daddy.

And the last strange fear I mentioned is fear of happiness. This also applies to love and success sometimes because love and success add a lot of happiness to people’s lives. Some people fear happiness because they fear that as soon as they begin to really experiencing the joys and highs of it, something terrible will happen. I read that they believe that if they just stay unhappy, when they get that scary phone call that a loved one has died or that so-and-so has dumped them, they have no high point to come crashing down from because they are already on that low point. They fear happiness only because they know that happiness will not always be. Life is not all good or all bad. So they feel that if they celebrate too much of the good, it’ll make the bad feel even worse.

If you’ve always been poor, then you don’t have to worry about losing your job or going through a recession. But if you allow yourself to become rich, you can lose it all! If you have no close friends or family members, you don’t have to worry about getting hysterical upon the news of their death because you never had any strong and happy feelings for anybody in the first place. You would think that people would want to experience as much happiness as they can while they can, but that is not always the case. Some people are so used to being abused as a child that they never allow themselves to feel happy because they knew the abuse was coming sooner or later. How easily could you rejoice in having a report card with all A’s and E’s if you knew that when you got home, dad was going to be in his scary drunk mode and that mom was going to beat you senseless for no reason?

Some people self-sabotage when they feel themselves getting too happy. They have “happiness anxiety”. When they feel too comfortable with a boyfriend or girlfriend, they may pick a fight. They aren’t used to happiness! They’d rather feel unhappy without the anxiety than to feel happy with anxiety. Anxiety is arguably the worst feeling to have, and people do whatever they can to get rid of it – including sabotaging their happiness when it comes to romantic love, a good job, a great friendship, etc. Anxiety is fear of something that poses no immediate or serious threat, but fear of the unknown is one of the scariest fears. So some people will consciously or subconsciously ruin any chance of happiness because it gives them the creeps. They are in control as long as the sabotage their chances at happiness.

If we lived in a normal world, we wouldn’t have those three weird fears. We’d be glad about being successful. We’d be so happy to have all that potential just waiting to express itself in us. Imagine if Michelangelo had feared success because his dad or classmates or brothers might get jealous of him and begin to resent him? We’d be missing out on all his beautiful artwork. The same goes for athletes, singers, dancers, and actors. What if Michael Jordan didn’t play as well just so that his teammates wouldn’t think he was a show off and so that he wouldn’t make the other teams feel like losers? You can’t dumb yourself down or make yourself average just so that jealous people can be happy with you. You’ll please those fifteen people of your family and friends at the expense of pleasing millions of potential fans and admirers, not to mention pleasing God by fulfilling the big purpose He placed in you to fulfill!

If we lived in a normal world, we’d love to experience being loved. We’d realize just how lovable we really are. Babies in normal homes are loved unconditionally. All they do is puke, defecate, urinate, cry, scream, eat, and sleep, and yet they are the favorite beings on the planet of their parents beginning at the first few seconds of their life or before they’re even born. They don’t have to do anything to be loved. And as they get older, they should know that approval and love are separate. A parent can disapprove of their child’s stealing behavior and still love them 100%. But for some reason as we get older, we begin to make our “lovability” dependent on our approval rate; and if you are raised in a dysfunctional family with narcissistic parents, you’ll also probably have this tendency. But you need to realize that you are 100% lovable regardless of what you do or don’t do. Jesus died for us WHILE we were yet sinners, and He forgave His murderers AS they murdered Him on the cross! So this shows us that we are lovable no matter what we do. YOU are lovable. YES YOU!

If we lived in a normal world, we’d be happy to be happy! We’d live every day in joy until something bad happened. Then we’d recover from it and be happy all over again! But in this twisted world we live in, being happy is scary because it has a determining factor in how sad we can get. It’s like a bride refusing to be TOO happy on her wedding day just in case her groom gets cold feet and doesn’t show up. In a normal world, all brides would be ecstatic on their wedding day until the very second she finds out her groom isn’t coming; in a normal world, brides wouldn’t keep their happiness level at a 5 instead of a 10 just in case he doesn’t show.

So these are the three strangest fears to me. I believe that everyone has experienced them to at least some degree unless you were raised in a very normal, loving family. Realize that God created success, love, and happiness for us to EXPERIENCE THEM – not to RUN AWAY FROM THEM!


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