How Fear Can Result in Self-Sabotage

If you follow me on Twitter, then you may have noticed I often tweet about fear. How we need to face our fears head on. How our biggest growth comes from overcoming fears. How fear prevents us from truly being everything we can be.

I’ve gotten a pretty good handle on confronting many kinds of fears but one has continually evaded me. Fear has managed to hinder me from finding real happiness.  The fear has been so pervasive that when I’ve been presented with a potential opportunity to have happiness, I start to self-sabotage. I will do things to destroy it.

This is a recent revelation for me. When you start to look at your own behavior, patterns inevitably crop up. When I initially realized this, I thought the fear was of being happy. But that never made any sense to me. Why would anyone be afraid of being happy?

Something happened recently with someone (the details I won’t share out of respect for the person and the situation) that made me realize I’m not afraid of happiness. What I’m afraid of is finding it – or thinking I’ve found it – and then having it ripped away.

Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote “‘Tis better to have loved and lost, Than never to have loved at all.” But is it really? Although Tennyson was writing about love, I think the same question can be asked of happiness in general.

Subconscious mind says: “If you don’t get to a happy place, then you’re minimizing the potential pain. You can then shift the blame for all of the things that went wrong to prevent it from happening to something or someone outside of you.” Ergo, a path to self-sabotage perpetually awaits me.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I want to be unhappy. It’s not that I am an unhappy person either. I actually want happiness but it’s part of human nature that we are much more willing to do what we can to avoid negative things than we are to gain positive things. The fear of potential hurt is just a stronger driver for me right now.

Yet another wall I’ve realized I’ve put up that I need to take down.

Do you find yourself self-sabotaging out of fear? Have you overcome this?

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    • Thank you for giving me this thought to ponder! Another possible answer to questions I currently grapple with.
      Fears are strange survival techneaks – they are important but often seem to get in the way.

    • Sharon, great post … would like to add to it because I feel like after a period of ebb, this is what I need to get my blood flowing again.
      ….

      I think that fear is an unconscious drive that motivates a large percentage of people's decisions and behaviors. Even if you put it into the context of success, the fear of unhappiness is often the driving force. We motivate ourselves through fear, fear of the unknown, fear that we won't adequately meet constructed standards. Yet, we also deter ourselves through fear — fear of letting go, fear of losing — and we put on a personal facade, a wall that shuts out this part of us, from the world. I say constructed because often the notion that drives us to the almighty 'happiness' is an ideal that has been embedded into our brains by others. Happiness is this, love is that — yet no one can truly define what the two are.

      I think that people are afraid of being happy because our idea of happiness is fictitious.

      Happiness and unhappiness are diametrically opposed, yet the two co-exist with the ebb and flow of life. Therefore, an ideal happiness is unattainable and unrealistic – it’s a fairytale. Fulfillment, on the other hand, is about achieving something that satisfies you, and that for me, is where life’s true meaning lies. Fulfillment begins with you, your self-knowledge and contemplation – it is a deep kind of introspection. Happiness is more like a drug that comes and goes, has high and lows, and leaves you feeling inadequate at times.

      Perhaps we're seeking something that we can never truly attain Sharon, and that is what mis-leads us.

      (Slightly off topic, but my mind is in a better place now– thanks Sharon!)

      – Shauna Robar

    • Sharon, great post … would like to add to it because I feel like after a period of ebb, this is what I need to get my blood flowing again.
      ….

      I think that fear is an unconscious drive that motivates a large percentage of people's decisions and behaviors. Even if you put it into the context of success, the fear of unhappiness is often the driving force. We motivate ourselves through fear, fear of the unknown, fear that we won't adequately meet constructed standards. Yet, we also deter ourselves through fear — fear of letting go, fear of losing — and we put on a personal facade, a wall that shuts out this part of us, from the world. I say constructed because often the notion that drives us to the almighty 'happiness' is an ideal that has been embedded into our brains by others. Happiness is this, love is that — yet no one can truly define what the two are.

      I think that people are afraid of being happy because our idea of happiness is fictitious.

      Happiness and unhappiness are diametrically opposed, yet the two co-exist with the ebb and flow of life. Therefore, an ideal happiness is unattainable and unrealistic – it’s a fairytale. Fulfillment, on the other hand, is about achieving something that satisfies you, and that for me, is where life’s true meaning lies. Fulfillment begins with you, your self-knowledge and contemplation – it is a deep kind of introspection. Happiness is more like a drug that comes and goes, has high and lows, and leaves you feeling inadequate at times.

      Perhaps we're seeking something that we can never truly attain Sharon, and that is what mis-leads us.

      (Slightly off topic, but my mind is in a better place now– thanks Sharon!)

      – Shauna Robar

    • Sharon, great post … would like to add to it because I feel like after a period of ebb, this is what I need to get my blood flowing again.
      ….

      I think that fear is an unconscious drive that motivates a large percentage of people's decisions and behaviors. Even if you put it into the context of success, the fear of unhappiness is often the driving force. We motivate ourselves through fear, fear of the unknown, fear that we won't adequately meet constructed standards. Yet, we also deter ourselves through fear — fear of letting go, fear of losing — and we put on a personal facade, a wall that shuts out this part of us, from the world. I say constructed because often the notion that drives us to the almighty 'happiness' is an ideal that has been embedded into our brains by others. Happiness is this, love is that — yet no one can truly define what the two are.

      I think that people are afraid of being happy because our idea of happiness is fictitious.

      Happiness and unhappiness are diametrically opposed, yet the two co-exist with the ebb and flow of life. Therefore, an ideal happiness is unattainable and unrealistic – it’s a fairytale. Fulfillment, on the other hand, is about achieving something that satisfies you, and that for me, is where life’s true meaning lies. Fulfillment begins with you, your self-knowledge and contemplation – it is a deep kind of introspection. Happiness is more like a drug that comes and goes, has high and lows, and leaves you feeling inadequate at times.

      Perhaps we're seeking something that we can never truly attain Sharon, and that is what mis-leads us.

      (Slightly off topic, but my mind is in a better place now– thanks Sharon!)

      – Shauna Robar