Guided Meditation to overcome fear of success
Its important to understand why you may have a fear of success. At first you may think, ‘fear of success?’. That doesn’t make sense. If I’m afraid of anything, it’s failure. But as you look over your life objectively, you see that failure has played a much bigger role in your life than success. Failure is so prevalent, in fact, that we’ve become inured to it. We’ve become comfortable with failure. We know how to accept it, to navigate it, and to explain it. Success, on the other hand, is less familiar to us. Success is an unknown quantity. An untested path. And as humans, we instinctively veer away from the unknown. We veer away from success, the unknown path, unconsciously.
There are many reasons why you may fear success. Some of these reasons may sound familiar, others may surprise you, and still others may shock and anger you.
I will list these in the order that they apply most strongly to me. You may also recognize some of these reasons in your own life.
1. I fear success because I’ve always thought of my life in cinematic terms. Because I’m an actor, I’ve always been drawn to great performances in film and television by actors and actresses that I admire. The ones that have always stood out in my mind are the performances where the main character overcomes hardship to meet with success in the end. There is something very emotionally satisfying in watching the protagonist triumph over hardship as the dramatic music swells. This phenomenon has brought tears of joy to my eyes many times. And as an actor, I want to live that for myself. I want to be that protagonist who triumphs in the third act. I want to be that person because then I can move others to tears of joy. They can watch me triumph to emotional music at the end of the picture. The trouble with this is, however, that once the triumph comes, the movie ends. The audience walks out of the theater and goes on with their lives. So in an effort to draw out the drama, to extend the glamorous plight of the downtrodden, to continue the build up to triumph, I continue to extend my struggle and hardship. In the end, the only tangible effect of this fear of success is to live a life of perpetual struggle and hardship and never triumph over adversity. This very strong fear of success has caused me to put up roadblocks to my own success and to sabotage myself over and over. I’ve become much more comfortable living as the downtrodden in Act 2, rather than the success at the end of the picture, because in my mind, the glamour exists in the struggle.
2. I fear success because of a sense of family loyalty. I feel that I should not exceed my Mother’s accomplishments because to do so would be to disgrace and disrespect her. My mother overcame such adversity in her life - poverty, a violent marriage, death of a partner, estrangement from siblings and children - that if I were to surpass her in any way, I would be showing off. I would be saying to her ‘ see? I could do what you could never do. It’s too bad that you spent so much of your life in hard times, sadness and tears; but that doesn’t matter to me because my own success is more important.’ If I become a success, I am saying that I devoted all my time to becoming a success and that sure wasn’t time that I spent pondering her pain. I fear that becoming successful will show that I’ve taken my mind off her suffering. Because success requires focus of thought and effort, to achieve success would indicate a lack of caring about what my Mother has been through. If I succeed, that might send a signal to my Mother that her accomplishment in overcoming her hardships is child’s play compared to what I’ve accomplished. Another aspect of family loyalty is the awareness of my Mother’s struggle. Since she struggled, and since i love her, I should struggle too. To do otherwise would show her that she wasted her life, or at the very least, that she had no control over her life. If I succeed and in so doing tell everyone that we create our own lives, then what is my Mother to think when she looks back over her own life? Is she to look in the mirror and blame herself for all her troubles? This fear of success is similar to Number 1 because it causes me to sabotage my own success.
3. I fear success because I fear losing my identity. I’ve always been the one who struggled. The one who endured. The one who made due with what I had. Friends have even complimented me in the past for being so strong, so brave, so thrifty. I’ve always been the scrappy and clever one who came through in the end. I’m the poor kid from the poor family. And where I come from, poor means good people. If I become a success I have to give up that identity. I won’t know how to behave. I won’t know what to say or do. I won’t know how to act around my family and friends. They’ll never have a reason to compliment me again. In fact, they’ll envy me. They may even dislike me. They may assume that I’ve become a success through sordid means. This fear of success prefers to keep things as they are.
4. I fear success because to become a success means giving up my hidden agendas:
a. addiction to self pity. Self pity is cleverly disguised in everyday life. Thoughts like ‘this always happens’, ‘not again’, ‘it’s one of those days’ can start an avalanche of negative emotion. Once we think of one thing that’s gone wrong in our day, suddenly our mind latches on to other things that seem similar and before we’re aware, we’re crushing our spirit with negative thoughts and memories. But if we’re honest with ourselves, in our quiet moments we get a little rush from the resulting feeling of ‘the world is against me today’ ‘poor me’ ‘who will rescue me?’. When we have those thoughts at the end of the day, our subconscious mind is satisfied just the way our stomachs are after a large meal. Our subconscious tell us, ‘yes, you’re right - it’s a cruel world and you can’t get a break. You’re justified in feeling sorry for yourself.’
b. another hidden agenda is blame. Blame is a powerful seducer. It’s easy to say, ‘well, I could have been someone great if so and so hadn’t done me wrong.’ ‘If my parents had only taught me how to handle money, then I’d be rich.’ ‘If my significant other hadn’t forced me to make bad investments, I’d be on easy street today.’ ‘Look at what he or she has done to me.’ ‘It’s not my fault that I’m not a success, I had every intention of succeeding, but just look at how I’ve been wronged by him or her.’
c. Righteous anger is another hidden agenda. Righteous anger is when we are angry at someone but talk about our anger to everyone else except the person we’re angry with. This is incredibly satisfying to many people, because it gives them a chance to relieve stress by complaining. For some, it gives them a chance to express their biting humor when they are angry at someone. If I become successful it would be unseemly to express my righteous anger. But as long as I’m struggling, then I have a good excuse to express my anger. I’m angry because I’m struggling and I’m going to tell everyone except the person I’m angry with.
5. I fear success because success will make me stand out in a crowd. If people know my name, then anyone who knows my secrets and my shame will seek to tear me down and humiliate me publicly. Becoming successful will bring out the jealousy in people who don’t even know me, and even worse, in the people who do know me. What if my family members come to me with their hands out asking for money, or for things, or for favors? Will i have what it takes to set boundaries? Do I believe in boundaries? Am I strong enough to say ‘no’? I’d rather die than be put in that position. If I become successful then I’ll alienate my entire family and all of my friends.
There are many reasons for fear of success. I’ve enumerated just a few of them here - the ones that apply strongly to my life.
Now let’s look at a way to welcome success into our lives.
This is a guided meditation. It refers to going into your safe place. Your safe place can be anywhere. It is a place in which you feel totally relaxed. For me it is a forest with a babbling brook, a large fern, a row of pine trees and a contoured rock. In your safe place you will be met by your higher self. This can be male or female and take any form you wish. For me, my higher self is me at the age of 40 on the island of Miyajima in Japan where I enjoyed a beautiful afternoon and sunset surrounded by deer.
1. breathing and total body relaxation
2. counting down into a safe place
3. meeting up with our higher self
4. laying still on the ground in the center of the safe place and going deeper, on the count of 5 finding myself seated on a river bank
As you sit at the edge of the river, you look beyond to the other side. On the other side is your success. It can take whatever form you desire. For me, it is the beach in Monte Carlo and behind it stands a large and beautiful hotel. The beach is covered with colored umbrellas and beach chairs. People are relaxing in the sun. Some are reading, some are sleeping, some are playing games. The hotel staff appear at times carrying drinks to their guests. It’s a place I desperately want to cross over to. But between me and that beautiful beach there is a wide river. The river is dark and cold and it’s moving too fast for me to cross through. So I sit on the river bank staring at the Monte Carlo beach about 50 yards away. I notice a box next to me. The box is made of wicker. It’s old and dirty. I lift the lid and look inside. There is an old, dilapidated book inside the box. On the cover of the book are the words “My Struggles”. I open the book and leaf through the pages. There are chapters on being poor, on being gay, on being made fun of. Chapters on doing bad things. Chapters on addiction. Chapters on deceit. Chapters on cheating. And a very large chapter on fear. The book is grimy and sticky. It’s old and has been opened and read many times. Under the book, also inside the box is a large sketch pad and a black felt marking pen. I put down the book of struggles and take the sketch pad and pen.
On the first page of the sketch pad I write in big bold letters, “I AM NOT ADDICTED TO STRUGGLE”. I turn the page and continue writing on the subsequent pages. I write “I AM NOT ADDICTED TO HARDSHIP” “STRUGGLE AND HARDSHIP ARE NOT GLAMOROUS”, “MY LIFE IS NOT A MOVIE” “I AM NOT ADDICTED TO POVERTY” “I AM NOT AFRAID TO SURPASS MY PARENTS” “MY PARENTS WANT ME TO SURPASS THEM” “MY PARENTS WANT ME TO SUCCEED” “MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS WANT ME TO SUCCEED” “PEOPLE SEE ME AS A SUCCESS” “SUCCESS IS MORE INTERESTING THAN STRUGGLE” I’m writing feverishly now and turning the pages quickly to continue writing. I’m nearing the end of the book. On the last three pages I write in big letters “I NOW WELCOME SUCCESS” “I NOW WELCOME SUCCESS” “I NOW WELCOME SUCCESS”.
I place the sketch pad, the pen and the old book back in the wicker box. I take the box in my hands and I stand up at the edge of the river. I look up at the few white clouds against the deep blue sky. I take a deep breath and say out loud “Now it is so”. I hurl the box into the river! I watch as the box floats farther and farther away, downstream. The box gets tossed by the waves and the rocks. It is taken by the rapids off into the distance. I watch as the river takes it around a bend, and away, out of sight. I notice that the water in the river is beginning to slow down. The water is becoming shallow. It’s incredible. The river is drying up. I watch carefully as the last little stream of water goes by me. The river bed is exposed. It’s soft and made of sand. I step off the river bank and down into the river bed. The cold sand feels good between my toes. I walk forward toward the beach in Monte Carlo. As i get close I can feel the excitement inside me building. I start to run faster and faster. When I reach the other side of the river I feel the sun warm my shoulders. One of the hotel staff greets me and shows me to my beach chair under a blue umbrella. On the chair is a large silver book, glimmering in the sunlight. I pick up the book and look at the cover. On the cover are the words “My Success”. I sit in the beach chair with the big silver book on my lap. I open the cover and see that the book is brand new - never used and never written in. The hotel staff gives me a pen. On the first page of this glorious book I write today’s date. I close the cover and lean back in my beach chair. I close my eyes and feel the sun warm my body. As I relax, shades of my safe place return. On the count of 5, I find myself back in my safe place. My higher self is there smiling. We embrace and I thank my higher self for taking care of me and guiding me. Again I close my eyes and count to five. On the count of five, I open my eyes from my meditation, feeling refreshed and revitalized.