If you’ve ever noticed that all of the sudden you start to miss important deadlines, find yourself procrastinating on key things, or out of the blue you say something REALLY DUMB at a big meeting, BEWARE. It could be a fear of success trying to sneak in through the back door and it's causing you to sabotage yourself.
At first glance, this sounds ridiculous.
Who would be afraid of success? Isn’t that what we all want?
Fear manifests itself in a million different ways. For some, it shows up as a fear of success.
When we take little steps every day, they quickly add up to be big leaps forward. As we see these changes happening, we realize that our dream business, our big vision, is really possible. Suddenly, we start to imagine that “success” will be a lot more complicated than “failure”.
And that can be scary.
What are some examples of a fear of success? (Great question. I’m so glad that you asked.)
For women, a fear of success often finds its roots in the belief that being powerful will lead to loneliness. Our Inner Critic tries to convince us that our spouse will feel threatened and leave us or that this new success will lead to frequent travel and take us away from the ones we love.
And, once a new level of success has been achieved, expectations increase. We place some hefty pressure on ourselves, as entrepreneurs, to maintain and then to continue growing. Plus, once this new level is reached, will everyone else expect us to keep it up?
Maybe you think that if you succeed it’ll be discovered that you really aren’t that good. You are a fraud. And you don’t know your stuff.
My creative clients often uncover that they have an underlying fear of selling out. If they become successful, make a lot of money and are recognized as a leader, will their friends still like them? Will they be seen as a “sell out”? Or, worse yet, will they become someone else entirely?
And then, this is a biggie. CHANGE. No one likes change. Maybe you would be better off to stay in your comfort zone. At least it's a known evil.
What are some ways to overcome this fear?
First off, breathe. Feel the fear in your chest, your arms, your back or wherever it shows up for you. Feel it and acknowledge it. In some cases, simply saying, “I’m nervous to be speaking in front of 10,000 people today. That’s actually quite a reasonable feeling for what I’m doing.” (Deep breath.) “Ok, how do I help myself to relax?”
Write down your fear. Put it in plain sight and see what you think. Let your rational mind dissect whether the fear is real and decide on the likelihood that it will occur (if it’s legitimate).
Realize that you are doing some really amazing things. Look at what you’ve accomplished. Look where you want to go. You CAN do it and you get to CHOOSE how you show up once you get there. The biggest part of dealing with our fears is realizing that we are in control of our thoughts. The Inner Critic speaks more loudly when we are getting out of our comfort zone so … it’s actually a good thing that you are noticing him more often.
If you worry that you’ll “sell out,” make a list of things that you could do to put yourself in that category. Don’t do those things.
When you notice your mind chatter around why you “can’t” do something, switch the verbiage around to reflect that you “won’t” or “will not” or “choose not to.” This reminds you of your responsibility for placing the limitation in front of yourself.
Realize that throughout life, people change. As you become more, it’s just that: you become more. Your “old self” isn’t being switched out for a “new self.” You are adding to the “old self” and some people will like that and some won’t. The few people who don’t like the upgraded version of yourself aren’t meant to be in your life, anyway. Learn to be OK with that.
Take Action Now: Focus your awareness on your thoughts throughout the day. Write down what your Inner Critic says and what you are doing when he shows up. At the end of the week, look at the list and see what is real and what isn’t. You’ll be amazed.
Please share! When did you realize that you were experiencing a fear of success? What did you do?