Fear of success is actually fear of change.
Everybody’s heard the term ‘fear of failure.’ It’s very easy to hear that expression and think, “Yeah. I get it. Who wouldn’t be scared to fail? Failure sucks.” But when I hear the expression ‘fear of success,’ I scratch my head (figuratively) and think, “Well, why? Why would someone be scared to succeed? I mean success is a good thing.” Why would anyone want to not succeed?
There’s a relationship between self-sabotage and fear of success. Self-sabotage is our way of avoiding success. What’s scarier? Not succeeding or succeeding? Be honest. Does the thought of success scare you more than the thought of not succeeding?
Isn’t failure more…comfortable? Self-sabotage keeps you right where you are – frustrated, but comfortable.
Your fear of success is in love with self-sabotage.
Success, to the soul, means leaving home. It means departing from what’s currently familiar. Abandoning the present, and embracing the unknown. Success requires risk-taking, large and small risks. Being open to success means becoming open to the possibility of leaving all that is familiar, and comfortable. It means leaving yourself as you know yourself. It could mean leaving a familiar neighborhood, town, and being farther away from family. Success entails change. Change of job, change of location, and a change of you.
No wonder so many people take the path of least resistance. No wonder so many people avoid success and, instead, veer toward self-sabotage…toward the comfortable familiarity of the old.
THE HERO’S JOURNEY
If you want to discard your fear of success and self-sabotage, then you must embrace your life’s journey. The hero’s journey is an old, archetypal description of life’s path. (It’s also a developmental dramatic arc often used for movies and novels – Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.)
The stages of the hero’s journey are:
The Ordinary World
The Call to Adventure
The Refusal of the Call
Meeting with the Mentor
Crossing the First Threshold
Tests, Allies, Enemies
Approach to the Inmost Cave
Reward (seizing the sword)
The Road Back
Return with the Elixir
Your present life is the Ordinary World.
If you commit to starting and finishing a project, that is your Call to Adventure.
Your Refusal of the Call will be self-sabotage, the part of you that wants to talk you out of the idea. Addiction is one form of self-sabotage. Addiction prevents growth – that is textbook self-sabotage. It’s scary to change because it can feel like abandonment, so addicts choose to keep using instead.
Once you meet someone (or read something) that causes you to reconsider your journey (or project), you will have had your Meeting with the Mentor.
Once you successfully get past a tremendously difficult aspect of the project, you will have met and Crossed the First Threshold.
Along the way there will be Tests (events or people (including yourself) that test your steadfastness), Allies (folks who help you toward your goal), and Enemies (folks who try to distract you from your goal). One “test” could be your old self testing your new self, in the form of perfectionism (a precursor to self-sabotage). Many ACoAs are perfectionists. The need for something to be just right, perfect, paralyzes us. The need for something to be “perfect” before it’s finally done derails us. It is a distraction. It prevents us from starting projects (because they won’t turn out perfectly) and it prevents us from finishing projects (because they don’t match up with our perfect vision).
Your Approach to the Inmost Cave is both a personal insight, potentially life-changing, as well as a reaching of a certain point of no return.
At this point an Ordeal may come, in which your project or goal will be in some sort of jeopardy. But because you are steadfast and because you have made a personal discovery, you are not going to be prevented from your path at this point.
Your Reward is either the reaching of your goal or completion of your project, or an unexpected but incredibly fortunate surprise.
The Road Back is your journey back towards the “home” from which you began the adventure.
Your Resurrection is the creation of a brand new self – you have been deeply affected by your journey and goal-reaching. This is your new identity revealing itself to you, and the world.
The Return with the Elixir is your reaching “home” and sharing your journey, new self, and ‘helpful message’ to others based on your new understanding and adventure.
That’s success – transformation.