Are you afraid of success?
If you’re like most, your list might include one of the following – death, rejection, public speaking, or failure.
I’m guessing that none of you had fear of success on your list. After all, why would we fear success when it’s something that we all strive for?
Before I attempt to answer that question, I invite you to read a powerful quote by Marianne Williamson.
“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 is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Now back to my original question – Why would anyone fear success? I believe the answer is rooted in the lies that we tell ourselves (and believe). You see, from the time we first started to use and understand language (when we were still in diapers), our minds have worked feverishly to make meaning of the world around us. Put another way, the human mind is a meaning making machine.
In order to attach meaning to something, there must be a set of underlying beliefs which serve as a filter, if you will. Here’s where the lies come in. Many of the beliefs that fuel our meaning making machine are a result of past experiences, not current reality. Let me give you a fictitious example.
Joey grew up in a family that constantly worried about everything. Whenever he would have the slightest illness, his parents would worry that it was something more serious and promptly call the doctor. Even though each small illness would eventually resolve, the worry never seemed to subside. It was as if one worry snowballed into another. After years and years of exposure to these health related worries, despite the fact that nothing was ever seriously wrong, Joey began to develop a belief that “Something is wrong with me.”
Even though reality continued to reveal that nothing was wrong, his mind operated under the belief that there was in fact something wrong, so he naturally looked for evidence to support this belief. Can you see that Joey was believing a lie?
When Joey became an adult, he unconsciously used this belief to sabotage his own success. The operative word here is unconscious. He didn’t even know he was doing it because the belief was so deeply rooted that it acted on its own, outside of his awareness.
Finally, after several visits with a therapist, Joey was able to uncover this belief and finally bring it to a place of awareness. Unfortunately, just being aware of it didn’t seem to change much. It still controlled him. Until one day, when his therapist asked him, “What are you gaining by holding on to this false belief?” Eventually, he realized that he was using the belief as a form of sabotage. More specifically, a means of sabotaging his own success. You see, by maintaining this belief, he was able to stay in his comfort zone and never really take any risk. Simply put, he feared success more than he did any health concern.
Can you relate to Joey’s story? Are you sabotaging your own success with a deeply held belief that simply isn’t true? If so, I invite you to find a coach or therapist who can help you do the work to uncover these limiting beliefs. You’ll be glad you did.