Over the course of thirty years in the business of healing people, I've noted a few phenomenal behavior patterns that seem endemic to human nature. One that stand out among the rest, is the absolute avoidance of incurring disappointing feelings, which spreads its tentacles so far out into every single aspect of our daily life, we don't even recognize how incredibly self-destructive it is.
It stops us from applying for jobs or careers we think we want, for fear we'll be rejected. It prevents us from introducing ourselves to someone we find attractive, for the same reason. There are myriad other ways aversion to disappointment creates insurmountable obstacles for us, but we've engaged in these practices since we were very young to avoid incurring pain, so we never address this issue for ourselves. We've adapted to it. We're adjusted to it. We're used to sidestepping challenges which spawn uneasy feelings in us~ particularly, if they potentially involve having to feel loss of any kind.
Millions of people keep themselves from attaching fully to a partner, for fear of the devastating pain they'll surely feel if or when that person leaves them or dies. This reluctance to fully love is a self-preservation instinct, which is far more pronounced in personality disordered individuals, but it's fairly common within the realm of all humans, just the same.
You might be as curious about why we behave in these ways, as I once was. I spent many years in deep inner-exploration to understand the mechanics of this type of self-sabotage, until I figured it out~ at least, to my own satisfaction. Maybe you'll resonate with this post, and maybe you won't~ but if what I'm proposing makes sense to you, please trust that with a bit of the right sort of assistance, this issue can be rectified.
As little children, any setback or disappointment we experienced felt acutely painful for us. We were too young to have acquired the capacity for mood regulation and coping skills, so we felt these experiences profoundly. Often, our parents didn't notice our upset related to a particularly distressing incident, because they were too busy trying to rebalance from it themselves! The upshot is, we were left to fend for ourselves when difficult feelings arose for us~ and this pattern of "coping" with our pain remained lifelong, due to not being able to trust that we'd get support or comfort from anyone if we were hurting.
A small child's only way to acquire coping skills, is to make his uncomfortable feelings "not matter." He suppresses them, and finds clever ways to sidestep them, like mentally fast-forwarding into the future to envision a brighter Tomorrow, beyond the pain he's having to deal with Today. Given there's no comfort or reassurance for his bad feelings, he comes to understand that they are not welcome in his home, and methodically starts killing them off or suppressing them.
As adults, we can look back on childhood disappointments, and minimize them for ourselves~ but a child who's in the midst of this type of event can feel quite devastated, because he hasn't yet built defenses like analyzing his pain, to deflect and deter it. Unpredictable disappointments can shake us to our core, even in adulthood. We've had no time to emotionally prepare for a setback or loss, and we feel destabilized by it~ which provokes uneasy feelings for anyone!
In order to avoid feeling destabilized, we try to control it by attempting to imagine and envision what might lie ahead, that could cause us surprise or shock. Human nature is such, that if we can emotionally prepare for potential pain, we can "handle it" better, and this gives us a temporary sense of comfort and control.
Have you ever found yourself projecting into the future and envisioning the very worst that might happen, so you could pre-determine how you'd handle it and rebalance from that trauma, if/when it ever occurred?? Has it given you some degree of comfort to foresee what might be up ahead for you, so you feel less vulnerable to surprise or shock if something bad happens?
Millions of people worldwide, have adopted this pattern of living. They feel uncomfortable when life is going too well for them, because their childhood experiences consistently programmed them to expect that something really bad always followed brief episodes of feeling calm, stable, safe and good! In short, when life or "The Universe" gives them a gift, they immediately start waiting for the other shoe to drop. This is the most commonly experienced anxiety trigger for people all over the globe, which is why I gave it so much attention in my Overcoming Anxiety Course (available for access on this website's home page).
There's a payoff we get from prophesizing about the future. It feels empowering when we get to be Right about something occurring, doesn't it? Even when we can envision the "bad" that may be up ahead, if/when it actually happens (which is almost never, incidentally), we feel a sense of satisfaction in having predicted that outcome, as if we've developed clairvoyant powers~ and how many of us wouldn't be pleased about that?!
I once knew a man who was so insecure, he constantly envisioned his beautiful wife cheating on him. His obsessional fantasies about losing her to someone else made him act terribly possessive, and his jealous hyper-monitoring of behaviors 24/7 felt so imprisoning, she couldn't take it anymore and ultimately left him. This woman adored her husband, and no matter how often she reassured him she was totally devoted to him and had eyes for nobody else, he couldn't accept it.
This man's Prophesy Fulfillment literally destroyed his marriage, yet a modicum of comfort was had by his ability to "see it coming." WHY do so many engage in this self-destructive activity?? Because feeling prepared for pain and disappointment, came to feel better than being surprised by it when we were little. We choose to exert control over our future, rather than allowing it to unfold, and risk being hurt by the unexpected.
The tragic problem with Prophesy Fulfillment, is that in a metaphysical sense, what we fear and mentally envision, we attract to us. We give it life, and empower it to manifest. There's an old saying: "Be careful what you wish for." The way I've understood that phrase, is that most people are short-sighted when it comes to fantasizing about what they want. Wannabe actors for instance, crave fame and recognition~ but never even consider the down-side of dining out, having everyone in that restaurant intently watching every forkful of food they eat, making judgments about their wardrobe or hair, and focusing intently on the interaction they're having with a meal companion! In life, nothing comes without compromise~ and loss of privacy is a huge sacrifice.
Be careful what you fear is a much more sound piece of advice in my view, because we don't want to keep creating disaster in our life, just because we're afraid to be truly content and happy. You might wanna read my article, THE PANIC MONSTER DOESN'T LIVE HERE, ANYMORE! while you're roaming around this website, and then consider if my online course to free yourself from anxiety issues in the process of becoming emotionally healthy, seems right for you.
How can we free ourselves from engaging in Prophesy Fulfillment? We can begin to accept that as adults, we've acquired coping skills and the capacity for mood regulation (unless we're personality disordered). We can consciously begin trusting that disappointment can hurt for awhile, but it's not nearly as devastating to us emotionally as when we were little, and we'll recover from it much faster.