Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.
~ C. JoyBell C.
Feeling fear is a natural human emotion and quite often can be a safeguard. There are times, however, when fear can be a detriment as you can allow it to paralyze you and prevent you from taking action to meet your goals.
What is Fear?
Wikipedia describes fear as, “…a feeling induced by perceived danger (italics mine) or threat …which causes a change in metabolic and organ functions and ultimately a change in behavior, such as fleeing, hiding, or freezing from perceived traumatic events. Fear in human beings may occur in response to a certain stimulus occurring in the present, or in anticipation or expectation of a future threat perceived as a risk to body or life.”
This would suggest that although the danger may not be real, the perception gives fear an identity.
How can this perception influence fear of success? Is it possible to avoid self-sabotage?
Why People Fear Success
You may find it odd, as I first did many years ago, that anyone would fear success rather than embrace it. Yet, this fear is real and the reasons are as varied as the people who experience it.
Following are five reasons people fear success and often sabotage themselves as a result:
- In order to achieve success, it requires growth and often involves making significant changes. These changes may be physical as well as mental.
- Many persons are unwilling to change. Change requires that you leave the safety of the known and get out of your comfort zone. Roy T Bennett is quoted as saying, “You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
- You’re simply afraid to dream big. Perhaps you’re afraid of disappointing yourself or those you love.
- Did you have persons in your life as a young person, or even as an adult, who spoke negative things to you? Were you surrounded by over-critical people for whom you could do nothing correctly? While you can choose not to allow these negative voices to continue to play their discordant notes in your head, it can be challenging to erase their songs from your mind.
- You allow mixed messages from society to dictate if you should play small or embrace success. Think of a child who is brilliant and excels in school. What happens when he is sent to a class where he shines over the other students who ridicule him and call him names? What can happen if that child does not have positive reassurances from teachers and parents? He taps down his natural brilliance in order to be accepted by others.
Face Fear of Success Head On
- Become uncomfortable and unhappy with compromise. Recognize that there is no virtue in playing small. The virtue is in honesty and integrity.
- Be willing to accept and enjoy challenges.
- Align yourself with people who are going for more and are not afraid of success.
- Refuse to give fear permission to control and paralyze you into inaction.
- Be aware of what fear is creating in your life right now. You may have to relentlessly dissect it piece by piece to uncover the root causes and accept responsibility to get help to overcome your fears. Fear of success may only be one symptom of what’s really going on.
Rather than allow fear of success to paralyze you and cause self-sabotage when you make the effort to take control and conquer your fears, you will feel a deep sense of accomplishment, thankfulness, and be empowered to take action and move forward toward your goals.
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