I am sure we have all have heard, accepted and even allowed ourselves to use the term “Fear of Failure” but are we aware of the “Fear of Success”?
It is common practice to have doubts that block us from doing things and moving us in a certain direction, these blocks come in a variety of shapes and sizes and this is in essence the fear of failure at work.
But did you know that we can be equally or usually have a greater fear of the very things that we want.
As Denis Waitely quite eloquently put it, the majority of us are afraid of success because the results and responsibilities of success are great and it is easier to put it in the “to do” pile or join the “I’m gunna” club.
The fear is tied to us visioning a better future due to the outcome attached to the desired success. In doing this we are also thinking about the changes necessary to achieve the success and whether or not we are prepared for the greater responsibilities that will obviously come.
“What picture could you paint if you didn't narrow your vision?” – D. Smith
This principle itself is where most people get lost, and this is because their vision is too focused on the specific issue within their life opposed to THEIR LIFE. Or as I tend to say they are macro managing the issue and micro managing their lives…and that can’t be right no matter which way you look at it.
Question: Would their even be an issue without the presence of your life?
When I see people doing this my first reaction is to say “Blow it up”, and for those that know me I usually throw in an expletive to get my point across. In saying this I don’t mean for them to destroy or get rid of or demean the feelings but rather prompt them to revert their thoughts to how this issue sits in their life sphere and how much energy are they going to give it.
Again based on my personal and professional experiences it is in my humble opinion the primary reason for this fear of success is because I feel we are getting closer to our true purpose in life or the more common term “life path” and our true potential and greatness.
Our Greatest Fear
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us
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.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other
people won't feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we 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.
—Marianne Williamson (often credited to Nelson Mandela)
So therefore it can be said that the fear itself can be easily caused by the unknown future and in the absence of true factual information we permit ourselves to fill our minds with negativity and untruths which we have allowed ourselves to accept as a given.
In short we have settled for failure, for sake of ease rather than success. We have opted for the less or no pain option and in turn we will not progress or gain.
This can be even further simplified with the theory of opposites. You see the world is a myriad of opposing forces and it was depicted in a book by Mitch Albom called “Tuesdays with Morrie”. The theory is referred to as the “Tension of Opposites”, here is an extract from the book:
[Morrie] "Have I told you about the tension of opposites?"
[Mitch] The tension of opposites?
[Morrie] "Life is a series of pulls back and forth. You want to do one thing, but you are bound to do something else. Something hurts you, yet you know it shouldn't. You take certain things for granted, even when you know you should never take anything for granted.
[Morrie] "A tension of opposites, like a pull on a rubber band. And most of us live somewhere in the middle."
[Mitch] Sounds like a wrestling match, I say.
[Morrie] "A wrestling match." He laughs. "Yes, you could describe life that way.
[Mitch] So which side wins, I ask?
[Morrie] "Which side wins?"
[Mitch] He smiles at me, the crinkled eye, the crooked teeth.
[Morrie] "Love wins. Love always wins."
If we don’t allow ourselves to succeed we allow ourselves to fail.
So subscribing to this if we continually choose to fail can we actually allow ourselves to succeed?
In answering the question I need to acknowledge that the feelings attached to this are generally greater in nature ie. more stress, more pressure, more to risk, more to lose, and these are some of the reason as to why we usually turn away from accepting this as the right way forward and settle for less.
But the greater the anxiety it is safe to say the greater the reward!
Remember in my previous blog I talked about walking through the door or walking into the wall, one moves you forward the other as you essentially staying in the same spot.
So because the feelings are so much more heightened we tend to shy away from them and accepting the lesser of two evils, and usually that is accepting failure by default, the choice of doing nothing (staying in the middle of the rubber band) is still a decision to not progress – its how we have been programmed and it is therefore how we are conditioned.
The result of accepting the thinking process attached to a fear of success is somewhat catastrophic as it has the ability to distract or tempt us away from our true place in life, and this inevitably leaves us feeling disempowered. It also causes patterns of self defeating thoughts and actions of which here are a few:
- Doing the wrong thing even when you know the right thing to do. That way, one can avoid having to deal with success.
- Minimizing your accomplishments so they are ultimately negated. Then, you don't have to live up to being all that you really are.
- Feeling guilty when you have a success. This creates a slowdown in momentum, hesitancy to act, and a self-fulfilling inability to move on to another success.
1. Act in a way that will genuinely help build a sense of self: Find ways to empower, encourage and acknowledge accomplishments of those around you.
2. Get an accountability partner or maybe a couple. These people have your explicit permission to give you feedback, positive and negative, about how they are experiencing your progress. This is a reality check. Honest, factual, periodic conversations will help you replace the unknown negative fantasies with reality-based information. (I personally love this one)
3. When someone compliments you, respond with a firm "Thank you!" No false modesty or additional talk is necessary. Simply hear the compliments and let them begin to influence how you see yourself.
“OMEN, n. A sign that something will happen if nothing happens.”
When I talk about the fear of success I cannot pass on the opportunity to discuss the topic of signs…or as Paulo Coehlo, the author of “The Alchemist”, articulates it omens that are present to aid in the lighting our truth life journey. We all get them yet we all don’t see them or notice them. This is partly due to the distractions that we are allowing ourselves to be a party of but more importantly its our fear of success that generally blinds us to them.
They come in many shapes and sizes. Some may dream some may get a feeling in their gut, some may literally get a sign…yes sometimes it can be that obvious.
But one thing is for certain they are present and very real.
So is your life half full or half empty, are you living to your true potential or circumventing your own success, are you prepared to be the best person you can be, or will you settle for failing to deliver your best? You do have the choice!