Wrapping up the year 2013, I won’t be discussing New Year’s Resolutions.
For us Ethiopians we can go through the resolution exercise trice, i.e. the Gregorian calendar, our 7 years younger calendar and a third one on our birthdays. So, no need to bring that up here. However, I hope we all agree that there are few things we would love to say good bye to; and few more to embrace in 2014 and the many more years to come.
As you might have noted from the title, we will be talking about fear and its many faces. Since I was encountered with the same topic this year one too many times, on different occasions; I knew there must be a good reason for it to persist. To inspire, could be one of them.
So, I am sharing with you the lessons I learned about fear and its many faces. What are you afraid of? Me, I am known for my fear of darkness and fear of violence among the many others. However, I was confronted by a brave self confidence trainer to assess my level of spirituality in light of whatever is scaring me in life. I am eternally grateful for that. First and foremost, keep this definition of fear in your mind because it helps someday. Fear was defined as “False Evidence Appearing Real”. That was like an AHA moment for me since I thought once you are afraid of something, t he only way out is to confront/face it and you either come out of it or remain even more afraid than before. Can you imagine how stuck I must have felt? The western civilization has made it easier for many to face their fears in a very safe and psychologically convenient and tested manner. If you are afraid of heights, they just take you up higher and throw you off with a string attached to you, that’s it! You are done!! JHuh! For me, meditating on the definition given above is just as practical, really! No leaving me in the darkness all by myself or put me in the middle of a fight. The truth is, fear of any kind can be crippling and we have to be able to stare at it in the face and do all we can to overcome.
So, in my venture to overcome mine, I came across interesting phenomenon. The Fear of Success. Yes, Success. You might say, what is to fear about success? I also found it strange that fear of succeeding could be much of an issue. However, doing my research on this topic, I found out that it\’s common to be scared of success and many are affected; and people who suffer acutely from this fear are usually not even aware they have it. Interesting!
We all strive for success in whatever we do right? In theory, success is a positive goal, the result of the work you do. Nevertheless, what will happen if you actually get there? Fear of the unknown can sabotage your efforts to be successful. Fear of success creates blocks that prevent you from achieving it.
If you are a people pleaser like I used to be, fear rules on many levels. Being insecure and worried about how you can handle a new or different scenario, even if it is a good one. People pleasers prefer to keep things status quo, even if the status quo makes them unhappy. The idea of discovering something new can seem daunting to someone with low confidence and imposing a constraint on exciting opportunities without quite knowing why.
The Major reason for success to be as scary as it is is because of the weight one gives it, the weight one places on what it means.
If we hold it inside that success means we are smarter, craftier and wiser (in all the negative meaning of the word) than others, then success is very frightening.
If we hold that because we are successful we are therefore superior to or better than other people; that we are entitled, that we are endowed, that we have a right to be arrogant; then success is scary.
When we hold that success validates us as being good and right and true or when we hold that success free us from accountability for things that would make a less successful person to have to pay for, then success is scary.
Further, success is scary because it never does any of those things. It never does make you smarter. It never does free or validate you. It never does make you a perfect person.
Beside the points mentioned above, here are some of the common concerns that contribute to fear of success:
What if success changes me or changes how others see or treat me?
Sometimes it is hard to create a new you or achieve a new level if you are pushed to maintain an image or people expect too much of you. However, real friends and people who really trust your decision will not change if you are conscious of who you are and where your passions in life lie. Stay true to yourself.
What if I become disappointed when I get what I strived for?
You might be successful but it may not generate the money, opportunities or high profile that you hoped for. Or, if you are not happy already, you may not feel as happy as you expected to be from reaching this level. When you are not happy on the inside, you look to external factors for happiness. That often creates a let-down when you get it, because career success doesn\’t create real long-lasting happiness if you\’re unhappy.
What if I can’t handle it?
Subconsciously, you might be used to struggling. Or, deep down you might not feel worthy of success or of being able to live up to people\’s expectations of you. Write down what success means to you. What expectations do you see? Figure out if any of it makes you nervous, and why. Become conscious of these things to find ways around them. Then make a list of all the good things success will bring you. If you get scared, focus on that list.
What if the pressure to take my success to the next level increases?
Maintaining success can seem daunting. You may be okay with achieving the initial accomplishment. But pressure to surpass it may be the scary part. Take it day by day. Faith helps you triumph over this kind of fear.
What if I have to make more decisions?
You may worry that life will get more complicated at the next level of your success. More obligations can reduce your freedom of creative flow, even if they are good opportunities. Success can restrain you in a little if you have to commit to things that will make your life more rigid or deprive you of free time. Focus on the rewards.
What if my work is not enjoyable anymore?
The road to success may seem more pleasurable than getting to a goal. Look for the pleasure in your choices.
Just as failures teaches us about ourselves and how to do things better; so does success. If you feel something is holding you back, ask yourself what might scare you about actually achieving your desire. How do you feel about those factors? Talk it out with a good friend to separate true concerns from the \”what ifs.\” Then work on your inner intentions for what you really want out of the things you want to achieve.
Use positive affirmations to defeat the fear. \”I intend to become more successful with ease.\” \”I\’m worthy of and ready for great success.\” Fear will always be there. Don’t fear it. It\’s how you handle it that counts. Consciousness and determination will get you to the other side.
Happy 2014 and let the year be a year to excel in everything you do!!