clock January 14, 2013
author Chris Sopa

The Jonah Complex

More than any other kind of knowledge we fear knowledge of ourselves, knowledge that might transform our self-esteem and our self-image…While human beings love knowledge and seek it – they also fear it.
~Abraham Maslow

Abraham Maslow was a brilliant psychologist who is most famous for the human hierarchy of needs he created, referred to as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, or Maslow’s Pyramid.  The foundation for this theory lies in the premise that humans are ultimately seeking self-actualization, or in other words, reaching our full potential.  We must have our basic needs met, such as food, shelter, safety, being loved and having self-esteem before this can be accomplished.

For those who are unaware of the story of Jonah in the Bible, Jonah was asked by God to go to the city of Nineveh to warn the people there that if they did not change their ways, destruction would follow.  Jonah, fearful of his destiny, chose to go to a city named Tarshish instead.  On his way to Tarshish, God sent a storm after him which alerted the others on the ship that Jonah was a danger so they threw him overboard.  Jonah was then swallowed by a whale and spent three days in the belly of that whale.  Upon being spit out by the whale, Jonah went on to fulfill his destiny.

The Jonah Complex refers to the fear of our own greatness…the fear of success.  We all have a destiny – a unique reason we were brought here to earth at this time that only we can fulfill.  Reaching our potential is up to us.  We must learn to look at life and ask questions such as, “What am I supposed to learn from this situation/person?”  The storms in our life are not punishments by God.  They are not karmic situations happening to balance the scale.  They are signs from above telling us we are no longer on our path.  How else can God get the attention of humans who have a hard time believing what they cannot see?  My own illness 10 years ago was just that…a sign that I was not on my path.  God does not wish harm upon us, we allow things in our lives to happen (some of which are pre-scripted) to give us yet another opportunity to learn something about ourselves.

You are the only one who can choose what path you walk.  Watch your environment, look into your life and see if there is a pattern in the things that have happened to you and instead of asking, “Why did this happen to me?” ask “What is it that I am not seeing?”  ”What do I need to learn to get back on my path…to get back to a state of joy?”  Please show me the way.

Marianne Williamson states the Jonah Complex the best:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us…and as we decide to let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Forging ahead on my path,



Choosing the Life You Were Born to Live:  How Changing Your Thoughts Will Change Your Life” by Chris Sopa published by Balboa Press.

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Chris Sopa is founder and owner of Chris Sopa International, Inc. You can learn more about her at Find her at, Twitter @ChrisSopa, LinkedIn, and .