Tuesday, March 23, 2010
We've all heard about the fear of failure. Did you know there is also a fear of success? Everyone assumes that people want success and happiness. Yet, there are persons who pursue paths that lead to pain and disappointment.
In today's New York Times an article, "Sabotaging Success, but to What End?" by Dr. Richard Friedman explores the reasons persons engage in self-defeating behavior. Friedman, a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, believes there is a "hidden psychological reward" in this kind of behavior. Basically, it allows a person to blame others for their disappointments and failures.
Self-defeating behavior also exists in the spiritual realm. The difference is that when we suffer failures here, we tend to blame God. We can believe that failures and disappointments are ways that God disciplines us for our unfaithfulness.
This view of God-as-disciplinarian goes against everything I believe about a loving God who can be fully trusted. God doesn't send failures to punish us or pain to get our attention. We bring these things upon ourselves by our own choices. We need to accept responsibility for our failures.
Even those negative things that happen to us accidentally are not God's doing. There is randomness in our world and we need to learn to accept it. The way to deal with self-defeating behavior is to (1) accept responsibility for our choices, (2) accept the randomness in creation. God wants us to enjoy abundant life, not to sabotage success.