A few weeks ago, I was listening to a podcast about spirituality and manifesting. Dheandra Nicolette, the host, was talking about her fear of success, and this was something I deeply related to. I have often reflected on my own fear of success and why I would be afraid of something that, for the most part, I really want.
The fear of success generally comes down to two things:
1. The fear of change
2. The fear of being unworthy
I'm going to get into number two, which for me is arguably the bigger and more daunting fear, in my next post. Today, I'm diving into why the fear of success is really the fear of change. And what is the fear of change? It's really the fear of the unknown. When you achieve success that is beyond what you know now, your life will change in ways you can't yet fathom.
One reason we fear success and its changes is because success is a creative force. It creates abundance, wealth, clients, support, and maybe even fame. Creation and creativity are beautiful things. They are the essence of the Universe in which we live. The Universe itself is constantly creating itself anew. It creates new worlds, new dimensions, entire new galaxies, all the time. To be in a state of creativty and creation is to be in harmony with the Universe which we are a part of.
However, because we live in a dualistic Universe, when something is created something else must be destroyed. And this is the part that can make us break out in a nervous sweat. What is destroyed is often an old version of our own Self. A Self that lived in a state of lack and limitation. A Self that only shone a fraction as brightly as it could. A Self that perhaps was not happy and knew it wasn't living to its full potential, but none the less, a Self we are intimately familiar with.
We know this Self, and even if we're not exactly happy in this state of being, we know what to expect and how to navigate everything that comes with it.
There are no surprises, which might sound good, but that's only because we are conditioned to expect bad surprises and not good ones. We are told over and over again what terrible, awful things can happen in this world, and our brains are in a constant state of preparation for literal doom. We are rarely reminded of how often good surprises happen, and therefore, because we don't expect them, we only associate the unexpected and change with pain and suffering.
In truth, change often leads to brilliant and beautiful new avenues we never dreamed we'd walk upon. But because we believe they aren't possible, we never open up to them, which confirms, there's nothing good beyond where we are now! We get stuck in a feedback loop of fear and hopelessness, which affirms, this world is bad bad bad. However, I'm sure if you really sit with it, you will see in your own life that positive surprises and positive changes happen as often, if not more, than the bad ones.
But the bad ones do happen, right? They sure do. Sometimes change is a kick in the gut, and it really does feel awful when it's happening. The solution to this isn't to root in and determine ALL change is bad. Letting one outcome determine all possibilities for the rest of your life will leave you feeling shutdown. Embracing change - including wild, unfathomable success - doesn't involve shutting down, but rather, learning how to navigate the unwanted and to shift our focus back onto what we do want. This is essentially the process of learning to have faith in yourself and the tools you have for well-being. For me, this means leaning on my meditation practice, reminding myself of my accomplishments, and knowing when to ask for help and support.
Let's get back to the core fear of change we often have with success - the fear of our own Self changing.
Knowing we must let go of one version of ourself and open up to one we don't yet know can be overwhelming. If I allow the Self I am now to dissolve, what will rise up in its place? What if it's a terrible version of me!? What if it's greedy and cruel and ends up bitter and alone? Do these thoughts sound familiar? This again is a reflection of how we are conditioned to expect the worst outcomes at all times. In reality, do you really think success would destroy all your morals and integrity? Based on the path you've been on, do you think you would lose all sense of compassion and empathy for others? Or would success only enhance your love for others and allow you to give back in ways you never dreamed? This positive outcome is generally not our brains default, and retraining our brains in this way is how we navigate this fear.
Again, it also comes back to having faith in your Self. Knowing you will still be you, just expanded and brighter, when successful, is essential here. If you doubt yourself and your ability to stay steady through change, then yes, change and success seem terrifying! Finding ways to trust yourself are key to moving past this fear.
But maybe it's not the fear of YOU changing that holds you back. Maybe it's how the world around you will change. Your friend circle may change. Where you live. What hobbies you like. You may find yourself living a life so different than the one you have now, it's as if it's in an alternate reality. And yet it's not - it's you, here, having evolved and grown.
Changing friends, locations, and lifestyle all trigger our brain in the same way we've talked about. Our brain goes into a state of self-protection and starts telling you all the WORST things that will happen. You'll only have friends that care about your money! You'll live in a big house and the property taxes will destroy you! You'll hate your new life and wish you'd never been successful at all!
This, like everything else we've discussed, requires a refocusing of our perspective. If you're successful, and you're a wonderful, loving, kind person, then doesn't it stand to reason there will be other wonderful, kind, loving people on the path you're on? Is is really possible you will be the ONLY successful person who cares about kindness and compassion? I mean truly, in a world of BILLIONS of people, how is it possible you will be the ONLY person who achieves great things while also being a good friend? Surely there will be thousands of friendly, amazing people you meet along the way that light you up even further. Right? Right!
We could go on for awhile about all the other fear of change that comes with success - such as moving, changing habits, changing your lifestyle, and so on. But I would like to end here and allow you to reflect on those for yourself. In what ways have you held onto a distorted perspective of why you should be afraid of success?
The answer that might be coming to you right now is, Okay, I can learn to see the good in change. But what if I'm not actually good enough? What if I'm not worthy of shining so bright people need sunglasses just to be near me? I hear you! This fear, which is often called "Imposter Syndrome" is a BIG one. Everyone deals with it in some way. We're going to get into it in the next post, so stay tuned!
And for now, I've made this meditation to help you with navigating change. I hope you like it! If you know someone who could benefit from this blog post or meditation, please share!
This is part 2 or 3 on the fear of success. You can go back to part 1, the fear of the unknown, by clicking here.
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