Last time, we spoke about how to shift from self-sabotage into self confidence by learning to be kinder to ourselves when our internal critic gets on her soapbox.
I’m writing to you today to talk about a form of self-sabotage that shows up as the fear of success.
Now, ‘fear of success‘ doesn’t necessarily show up as an obvious thing; I don’t get many people coming to me saying, “Lucy, I’m terrified of doing well, I’m really afraid of being successful!”
In today’s video, I talk about how the fear of success shows up in other, more subtle ways.
In my experience, fear of success has a way of blocking us; getting in the way of creating the work we want to create, having the relationship we truly desire, building the business we long for…
So, how do you recognise fear of success working in the background, like a glitch in our operating system, and how do you work with it, so it no longer takes control of life’s steering wheel, without you even realizing? (Fear of Success is sneaky like that.)
Firstly, fear of success shows up in a number of different ways, the two most common I’ve encountered in my work are:
Talking about your dreams, what you want to do with your life…but never actually taking any action to move forward with concrete plans. Living in the “I wish I could…” state is a good state for daydreaming, and I’m a big fan of daydreaming when working on visualisation for the future, but without small steps to move ahead, procrastination is just keeping you stagnant.
So tell me if this sounds like someone you know, or perhaps this is something you can relate to:
The Fear of Success dialogue goes something like this: “If what I create/do/be/make/invent…is never good enough, it certainly is never going to be ready to be released into the world. That way, what I’m really doing is shielding myself from potential criticism and rejection.”
Trust me, as a recovering perfectionist I hear you on this, but here’s the thing I’ve learned through stalling and stopping myself countless times, hiding behind the “be perfect” driver: by dwelling in the realms of perfectionism, you’re also preventing yourself from receiving valuable feedback and potential positive responses to your work!
You can’t expect to grow if you don’t show up for yourself.
Perfectionism is a form of self-sabotage and as one of my mentors, Marie Forleo says, “Progress, not perfection,” is the way to move forward.
There are many underlying reasons why a fear of success sneaks in; in my work, the three main reasons I’ve encountered circle around a belief the person has about success, and what their being successful means to their immediate friends and family.
Belief 1: “If I’m successful, my peers won’t like me anymore.”
Fear of being ostracized and rejected by our peers is the number one reason my clients block their own success.
Here’s a necessary truth: if you are playing small, folding yourself into an uncomfortable human origami in order to fit in with your circle of friends so that they will like you, then they are not your friends.
It takes courage to change and build your life the way you want to live, but what’s the alternative?
Living life confined to someone else’s idea of how you should be, so they stay comfortable?
One of the most powerful shifts you can make is to build a strong support network around you, of people who are encouraging and who light up when you shine your light. Aligned to this, is the promise to yourself to always be that person for yourself, too.
Start by making a list of people who you feel confident around, who you can talk to about your dreams for life and who hold you accountable to taking action; you know these people have your back because they live from an abundance mindset where there is more than enough for everyone and celebrating your success only nurtures their light.
Comparison and friendships based on jealousy and ‘stay small so I’ll like you‘ tactics are old news and I encourage you to allow those relationships to fall away gently, so you can re-focus your energy on building your ‘dream team’ of like-minded, warm-hearted soul-sisters & brothers.
Belief 2: “If I’m successful, I’ll somehow upset the status quo in my existing relationship.”
This is a tough one and it comes up a lot, particularly with my heterosexual female clients.
Look at how the years of social conditioning have formed around this belief that women are somehow frowned upon for being just as successful, or more so, than men.
Look at how ‘success’ was viewed in your family growing up.
These are all conditions you’ve carried with you into present day and they help to form the foundation for the fear of success to leap into action when opportunity arises.
Men, as well as women, have carried a lot of conditioning into present day, but now it’s time to use those open, loving communication skills of yours and talk to your partner about how you feel; share your vision with your partner; let them be part of what you are consciously creating and you never know, you may discover your closest ally right there with you as you simultaneously build new, stronger foundations for your beliefs to spring from into a more empowered direction.
Belief 3: “Deep down, I feel like I don’t deserve success.”
A lack of self worth can hinder our progress in all aspects of life and it’s something that is currently rife in Highly Sensitive People.
Being told your whole life that you’re ‘too sensitive/soft/shy/in the clouds…etc‘ or that you need to ‘develop a thicker skin‘ in order to be successful is tough and hurtful for anyone, let alone someone who processes and experiences emotions so deeply!
The best way I’ve found in my experience to begin working on self worth, is to start valuing your Highly Sensitive gifts as something to be treasured.
Who says you need to have a thick skin to be successful? (What does having a ‘thick skin even mean?!”)
Define what success looks and feels like to you; write this down and keep it as a ‘holy grail’ reference point any time you slip into overwhelm.
Find a mentor, fictional or real, who has the qualities, resources and beliefs you need in order to move forward with confidence and ask yourself this:
“How am I similar to this person?”
List all the ways you are similar.
What do you notice?
Then, spend a few quiet moments with the image of this mentor in mind and ask yourself this:
“What would they say to me now, to help me move forward?”
By tapping into the resources of a mentor, whether imaginary or real, what we’re actually doing is accessing the internal resources we’ve always had inside ourselves…we’d just forgotten where to look and how to open the door.
The affirmation I want to share with you this week supports this practice and I invite you to use it any time you start doubting yourself, or questioning your right to live your version of success:
“I trust in Divine timing; life loves me and supports me.”
Tell me more about your experiences with procrastination and perfectionism, and how you’ve tackled the fear of success in your life.
Let me know in the comments below!
Thank you so much for reading and watching and for being you.
“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.”
~ Marianne Williamson