Have you ever held back on something big because you were afraid that you’d fail?
You probably knew what you were doing right? You probably felt and understood that fear. You see, Fear of failure is obvious. And because we can see it, it’s easy to work on.
Fear of success, however, is far more intangible and much tricker to recognise. Fear of success is sneaky, it likes to hide in the dark. It is much more difficult to conquer, as it asks deeper questions, like…
Who will you become if you arrive at your destination?
What would life would look like if you succeed?
Will people judge you once you’ve made it?
Let’s explore fear of success…
Without being a starving artist or a struggling entrepreneur, what story would you tell? Who would care about you, or take the time to tell you that everything will be ok? Would you still have the same kind of daily purpose without all of your overwhelming work to do? And would the people you call friends resent you if you made it?
Fear of success is so tricky and intangible that you might even deny that it exists for you. Fear of success is the stuff that clinging is made of, the way we hold on tight to our smallness. Staying small keeps us in a victim place, and as a victim, people offer us care and compassion.
You may not want to admit that you, a spiritually awake human, could find aspects of this inside you. But do yourself a favour and take a look.
Is it fear of failure that holds you back, or is it fear of success?
Marianne Williams said it best when she wrote,
“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, 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 won’t 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’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.”
The manifestations of fear of failure and fear of success are similar, but the driving force behind them is different. Fear of failure is easier to overcome because at your core, you want change to happen. Fear of success is more difficult because at your core, you want to stay the same.
Here are 6 signs that you might be suffering from fear of success
1) You find yourself irritated by this blog post, or when anyone mentions fear of success. “Who the hell is afraid of success?”, you scoff. “That’s ridiculous!”. Sound familiar? What are you getting so uptight about, anyway? As a coach, I have learned that any reaction to a suggestion indicates you might need to take a deeper look.
2) You’re deep in struggle mode. You’ve been doing all the right things, but are not currently experiencing success. You work super hard and plan your whole life around your intention to achieve success, but you never seem to get there. This is the struggle zone, and you’re keeping yourself in it. You may know this as self sabotage. If you can relate, it might be time to sit quietly and look deeply: Ask yourself, are you afraid of changing?
3) You start lots of new projects, business ideas, or programs. Then, when you get close to fully launching, you lose energy and momentum. You might frequently decide that this particular project is not really for you after all, and move on to the excitement of something new. You tell yourself and everyone else that your latest idea just wasn’t the right one. Ask yourself: are you prone to jumping to a new idea before letting the old one come to fruition? This is a classic sign of not wanting things to change.
4) You find yourself thinking or saying things like, I don’t want my business to get so big that I wont have time to ______ dance, cook, ski, write, play” (insert your favourite pastimes here). You might hear things like, but I like my lifestyle, but I want to be a good Mum, or, oh I couldn’t handle having staff. In other words, you’re afraid of the responsibility you think success will bring. Is this you? If so listen up: I can tell you for sure that if you do it right, the more success you have, the more freedom you will possess to create the life of your dreams.
5) You secretly don’t want to be rich. Now, you might say you want to be really wealthy, but what’s happening on the inside? Is your mind telling other stories, like I’m not greedy, having all that money will change me, or, I’m just not someone who’ll ever have lots of money? Fear of success is often tied into a poor money story. Take some time to look into your own story. Did you grow up believing money was bad? That rich people were a-holes? This one is seriously tricky, and may take time to heal.
6) You don’t want to lose connection. All your bestie’s are on struggle street, and it’s familiar here. You may have watched one or two friends propel into success, and heard how other’s talk about them with judgements and jealousy. You may be afraid of leaving your loved ones behind. Will they talk about you too? What will happen if you launch into stardom and success? You might want to look deeply into this one. Fear that others will judge you is usually based around how you’ve judged others in the past. Forgive that and move on. And remember, if you truly love your friends and family, you can take them with you wherever you go.
There are other signs that you may be suffering from fear of success, but these six are what I have seen most often in my clients.
To work on any one of these six is to work on them all, so pick the one that’s most prevalent or obvious in your life right now and see if you can investigate.
It can be helpful to commit to a week of watching how this manifests for you in your personal and work life. The key to overcoming fear of success is to look deeply into the nature of your beliefs, and see that there’s not a whole lot of truth there.
Sometimes, all it takes is to see clearly what you’re afraid of for it to shift.
As Marianne says, we were born to make manifest the glory that is within us. If you’re truly going to serve the world, which I know you long to do, you have to let your light shine. And in doing so, liberate others from their fear.