Jonah Complex

Let us assume a teacher in a film school asked this straightforward question – ” Who here thinks that
they will become the next greatest director of world cinema?”, many would laugh, giggle and
turn around to see if anyone was stupid enough to raise their hands, right?

You might be feeling there’s nothing wrong about it and students are in fact humble enough to assume that they won’t be
great and appreciate them. But Abraham Maslow thinks that this is a serious psychological problem which he called as
the Jonah complex, named after the same biblical character.

In the biblical story, God commanded Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh but he goes against the wishes and instead
tries to go to Jaffa. Jonah evades the responsibility of his duty and the chance to fulfill his potential and later
pays the price by being stuck in a whale’s belly for three days and nights. of course, god rescues him and Jonah goes
back to Nineveh and so on. but Maslow takes the story and points out the main problem here.

Many of us, like Jonah and the students in the film school, try hard to evade the responsibility we have
to pursue our greatness. we fear the highest possibilities we can achieve. This could be out of
an inferiority complex, fear that people might think you are arrogant or prideful or foolish, and the hate
or resentment we get if we try to dream big, whatever might be the reason, we try to evade our own
destiny by calling it humility and run away from one’s best talents as observed by Maslow in his book-
“The Farther Reaches of Human Nature”. And we miss our call, destiny, and life’s purpose.

The point here is not that you are a genius simply stuck in phobias or aren’t man enough to face the realities of life but
to be aware of our own potential, greatness, and latent abilities that we put aside due to fear of hardships we encounter
in pursuing the path of excellence.


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