Does the thought of success scare you? Do you feel worthy of it? Those may seem like an odd questions but many people are uncomfortable with the prospect of success (myself included at times). It’s seems hard to believe but it’s true. Who wouldn’t want to be more successful? What is there to be scared of? Why wouldn’t I feel worthy of it? Those are interesting questions and we are going to dig into them more in today’s post.
I don’t think anyone wants to fail, but sometimes we hold back and achieve only partial success because it feels more comfortable than the possibility of something more. I’ve realized lately that I’ve been holding back in areas of my life because I don’t feel worthy of receiving the success and honestly I don’t know why!
Fear and worthiness are tied together. When we don’t feel worthy of something, it’s easy to let the voice of fear in our head guide the decisions we make in life. We hold back, we settle and we stay small, never realizing our full potential.
Reading this now, you may not be aware that the thought of success makes you uncomfortable. If you dig into this a little further though, you might be surprised at what you find. Here are some things I’ve noticed about my own life:
Fear shows up in ways you least expect.
The fear of success can manifest itself in different ways. Procrastination, self-sabotage, and an inability to concentrate on important tasks are signs of discomfort with success. Do you suddenly feel tired when performing a task that could take your career to the next level? Do you insist on making everything a struggle and think struggling is the only way you can get what you want in life? These are signs that your subconscious is derailing your efforts and you probably have some fear around becoming successful.
Do you see any patterns of self-sabotage in your work and relationships? Ask yourself why you engage in those behaviors. Look at your past objectively and see what you find. You’ve likely been sabotaging yourself for years so this is going to take a little time and effort to recognize.
When we don’t feel worthy we hold back, settle & stay small, never realizing our full potential.
Success can appear more complex than failure. It’s can seem easier to deal with your life as it is than to become successful. The more successful you become, the more visible you become. You may feel like your more exposed to criticism, have more responsibility & have to live with more pressure. Or you might worry you have to become a different person (and this isn’t a bad thing). Yes, success does require change but it doesn’t mean it’s all bad! It gives you a chance to grow and become the person you know you can be but are afraid to let shine.
Fear and worthiness go hand and hand.
This blog is the perfect example of how I’ve let fear and feelings of unworthiness get in the way of my success. I started this blog 10 years ago, and had trouble in the beginning accepting payments for advertising and other ideas I had for monetizing the site. Even though this site cost money to run and a lot of my time to maintain, I still had feelings of guilt around being paid for it. Oftentimes I had thoughts like “Who am I to offer advice and be paid for it?” “Why would anyone want to listen to me and then pay me for the work I do?”. You can probably recognize thoughts like this in your own life in areas you struggle.
When I look back, I don’t really know why I had these thoughts? I guess I had some guilt in helping people who were struggling with money and being paid for it. Sounds crazy now when I share it with you, but it’s true!
As I’ve dug into that more over the years, I’ve realized that one of the biggest ways I was holding myself back was feeling unworthy of having “easy” money come in. By “easy” money I mean being paid by advertisers or sponsors for the work I do on the site. While it felt “easy” when I got the money, what I had forgot to consider was all the back work I had done to get to that place. Months and years of work, trial and error and not to mention all the money I spent to keep things going! I felt I had to struggle, work 100 hours a week and avoid any sort of fun or self-care until AFTER I was earning enough money from my site to quit my day job. Little did I know at the time (or I would have changed it), I had it all backwards!
Life is meant to be enjoyed and if you are struggling with what you are doing, you are probably doing it wrong. I don’t mean that everything in life will come with no difficulty, so please don’t misunderstand me there. What I mean is that if you are going after something and you are working so hard, banging your head against the way or forcing something that doesn’t seem to want to fit, it might do some good to take a step back and try a new approach.
That’s what I did a few months ago. I really took a look at how things were going for me, what I wanted and started working with a coach to understand where this issue was coming from about money. I talk about money all the time, so why was this coming up? That’s when we started to dig further into feelings of unworthiness for me around easy money. I had conditioned myself to work so hard for so long, I didn’t know any other way!
I’m now working through that (with great results) and one of the biggest tools that helped me was to use “I am worthy” statements. They are really easy to do, I write out or say in my head “I am worthy of___” whatever it is that I want in my life. It’s made a profound change in my life, and if you struggle with this I suggest giving it a try. It can help soften your beliefs around your fear of success, worthiness and help you get what you really want in life.
Change your negative beliefs.
Another very useful trick I’ve found to start changes my negatives thoughts is to question them. It’s some what shocking when you realize that what you are believing may not actually be true! Let that sink in for a minute. Isn’t there some relief in knowing that?
We spend so much of our time in our own thoughts and assume that everyone else sees the world the way we do. Guess what? They don’t! I learned from Abraham Hicks a few things about beliefs that I think might help you here:
A belief is only a thought I keep thinking.
A belief is only a thought that I continue to think.
A belief is only my habit of thought.
It’s only a practiced thought.
A belief is only a thought that I think a lot.
Isn’t that good news? That just because you believe something doesn’t mean it’s true (especially about ourselves) and that you can actually change what you believe? A great way to start changing your beliefs around success is make a list of your negative beliefs and why you aren’t as successful as you’d like to be. It might be easier to start with the excuses you make for why you think you can’t have what you want, why you think you aren’t where you want to be, or what you think standing in your way. (Spoiler alert: you might find what is standing in the way is you!) Asking yourself questions like:
- How do I know this belief is true?
- Where did this belief originate?
- Could I be wrong?
- Am I willing to be wrong?
- What are a few counter examples to this belief?
- What is this belief costing me?
As you think about these questions, you can write them out or just take some time for yourself to think about them more, you might find what you believe to be true isn’t actually true after all!
Have a vision of success that appeals to you.
What does success look like for you? Not what you think it “should” look like or what others would expect it to be, but what does it really look and feel like for you? What would make you happy? Take some time to consider this, if you write in a journal, write out your thoughts there or simply think about what it looks like for you. Make a personal list that excites you and gets you motivated!
Are you afraid that massive success will result in a loss of free time? Build a vision of success that allows you to work on the beach for a few hours each day, take time off, (or my favorite) live an unhurried life. Success won’t happen if your vision of success is unappealing.
What are the advantages of success for you? Consider all the advantages that success can bring: happiness influence, money, social status, comfort, contribution, and so on. The sky is the limit here so don’t be afraid to dream big, no limiting here!
Enjoy the process.
Fear and unworthiness may have been getting in the way of your success, but you do have the power to change that. Identifying where it shows up in your life and questioning your own beliefs will help you get past your current blocks so you can design a life you love.
Success can seem like a lot of work. If you view the work as misery, no success will be attractive enough to motivate you (trust me, I learned that the hard way!). It may feel counterintuitive that anyone would fear success, but this is one of the primary reasons everyone isn’t more successful. Avoid underestimating how much your negative impressions of success can sabotage your future. Build a vision of success that motivates you to be successful. Eliminate the negative. Question your current beliefs. And enjoy the success you deserve!