Why We’re Afraid of Success (& MY love story)
You were born to grow, to fill bigger & bigger boots. You were meant to expand, to take risks—sometimes simply to learn from mistakes & experiments but also to succeed.
Succeed wildly, way beyond your expectations, in whatever way is most meaningful to you.
Perhaps you don’t think that you have any fear of success but most people, I’ve found, have at least a little fear because success often means getting out of your comfort zone.
Do me a favour & picture it (you can quickly read the exercise below or watch the video here if you like)….
Picture what success looks like to you. Is it a huge applauding audience, lots of 00000’s in your bank, changing the world or finding the love of your life?
Now imagine that vision is standing in front of you—the soul mate, the vision of you on stage, the results of your world changing scheme…..there it is. So close you can almost taste it.
How do you feel?
Hopefully elated, excited, hopeful, maybe longing…..but maybe something else too.
If that vision were real, if you knew it was going to be delivered to you tomorrow…maybe there’s something unexpected you feel. Fear or nerves or like something might have to change to allow the vision to happen.
Here’s the story of my soul mate success fear…..
I’d recently finished a 6 and a half years relationship, I was in my early thirties—the time you’re supposed to settle….not begin again. But having battled to recover my health, as my energy returned I began to wake up. I wanted more I decided.
My current relationship had become a comfortable companionable stale mate.
I wanted someone who really saw me (on a deep level), adored me, got me (including obviously finding my jokes hilarious!) & who wouldn’t be afraid to face things & grow. Not a job for the faint hearted I reckoned.
I took my own advice & did the exercise above.
I visioned, I wrote my ‘ideal man list’ & felt excited at the prospect of finally having a soul mate relationship.
I expected him to take a while to arrive & I was fine about that.
Just a couple of months later, I found myself in a pine forest in Sweden realising that I wasn’t ready to meet this man, I was scared.
Whilst staying with my brother (who had moved to rural Sweden) I found myself with rather a lot of time on my hands (it turns out it’s beautiful but there’s not a lot to do in rural Sweden).
So, I decided to imagine ‘the guy’ standing in front of me doing what I’d said I wanted—deeply seeing me, adoring me, getting me, laughing uproariously at my excellent jokes & feeling happy to grow together weathering all the storms.
I felt it.
A twinge of fear. A cloud of resistance in my body. A little bit of self protection.
‘Shit’, I thought.
So, in the shade of the beautiful pine trees, a mile or two from a living soul, I talked to my fear.
I asked it why it was here, what it needed to release.
It told me many things—it told me that I wasn’t used to truly being seen—what if I wasn’t good enough? It told me that it felt unfamiliar to be deeply loved—there was so much more to risk. It told me that I was used to emotionally protecting myself—was this safe?
And most of all, who am I to think I could have this? To think, that someone might feel that about me?
That’s getting way too big for my boots.
It mentioned a difficult past & reminded me how my trust had been broken.
So, I breathed into those places. I heard them. Acknowledged their stories, their pain & I did my very best to reassure them—I could have this, it was safe & it was time.
The resistance, the fear, the self protection wasn’t totally gone but something had shifted.
So, when my improv comedy class mate started sending me chatty, funny, kind Facebook messages in Sweden I responded—I wasn’t sure if he was my type to be honest, but what the hell, there was little else to do in rural Sweden.
And over 2 more weeks of Facebook chat I warmed to him even more. He seemed different from the past men in my life, I wasn’t sure though if he was right for me….but maybe, maybe….
Then it was time to fly home. I stepped off the plane & went straight to a party at his home, butterflies in the pit of my stomach.
Yes, I thought when I saw him…maybe this would be a nice short term fling.
8 years later I still live with a man who sees me, adores me, finds me damn right funny & is right there with me growing courageously in a very real relationship that keeps forcing us both to grow. It’s happy & it certainly hasn’t been for the faint hearted.
And I love him back to the bottom of his boots.
I’m honestly not sure it would have happened without me talking to my fear in some Swedish woods.
Fear is such a normal part of growth, of even having what we most want, of success & deep love—but I see that it can hold you back if it’s subconscious, denied & unheard. Sometimes only in admitting it can the door open enough to let what we’d love in. It loses it’s power then—we see that it was just trying to protect us from something new & unknown.
“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, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”