Although Fear of Failure and Fear of Success may seem as though they must be, somehow, opposite states of being, what underlies them both is the common ground of….
Fear of Change
We are often more willing to stay miserable than to move into the unknown. But learning to know the unknown is the envelope against which all manifestation and creation pushes.
“Anything I have ever done that was worthwhile …
initially scared me to death.”
HOW DO I MOVE INTO THE UNKNOWN?
The secret to mastering the unknown is not really a secret. You simply take a baby step. Accomplish a small aspect of an endeavor, an experience, or your heart’s desire, rather than expecting to be entirely successful with it.
Want to end a sense of poverty? Get twenty $1 bills and give them away to strangers.
Want to write a book? Write an article about something that you are passionate about and publish it—free—on the web. Then Goggle yourself and see your name and work come up for the world to see.
Want to give paid seminars and talks to audiences of hundreds or even thousands? Give a complimentary talk at a community organization.
How did any of those experiences feel? Perhaps a little uncomfortable, perhaps a lot empowering.
These small steps in the direction you’re headed give you confidence, bring the fear down to manageable size, provide you with many learning experiences of how to continue toward your goal, and begin to clear the path that brings you and your intention toward one another.
Life involves risk, and risk suggests the possibility of failure. Be willing to take risks! Within those risks lie what you need to learn, within those risks like your rewards.
Another part of this fear-based impedance to our goals is fearing disapproval. You can end up virtually paralyzed in your longing for approval.
You want to be told you’re doing wonderful things, but fearing criticism, being laughed at, scorned, and/or ignored, you put the brakes on manifestation.
An attitude that is wise to acquire is as Wayne Dyer observed, “Your opinion of me is none of my business,” advising us not to be held hostage by longing to receive the good opinion of others. Do as your inner wisdom suggests. It is not possible to “make” others happy, in any case.
You may accept constructive feedback, but, in the end, you must stick by, and be faithful to, your inner knowing.
“Most of our obstacles would melt away
if, instead of cowering before them,
we made up our minds to walk
boldly through them.”
Orison Swett Marden
FEAR OF FAILURE
First, it’s helpful if you tell yourself that there is no such thing as “failure.” The process of discovering how not to do something or how something does not work is central to the process of learning. Otherwise, how will you know how to solve a problem?
You not only learn the correct answer to a problem through processes which do not work, but aspects of this form of learning experience may provide solutions to other problems.
Considering something a failure is simply a negative judgment of your experiences. Failure does not ultimately exist if, when you meet with a setback, you
• pick yourself up
• step back and study the complication
• then make a path around the boulder that landed on your road
and continue to move forward.
Failure only exists when you decide to fail, when you decide to stop moving toward your goal. Honor that energy in you that calls you to your purpose.
We’ve not been taught, at least not formally, how to handle experiences which do not fulfill our expectations. We have been given many models of failure, however.
For instance, if a child has learned 60 percent of the material being taught in school, the child has failed. Why would that child continue to try? Failure is so inflexible.
John Holt, in his book How Children Fail writes, “For many years, I have been asking myself why intelligent children act unintelligently at school. The simple answer is ‘because they’re scared’… fear destroys intelligence… it affects a child’s whole way of looking at, thinking about, and dealing with life.”
“The greatest mistake you can make in life
is to continually fear you will make one.”
When something you’ve undertaken comes out as anticipated, that’s great! However, that experience doesn’t teach much. That is to say, what you expected to happen, happened. What you already knew was put into action, with anticipated results.
And so you continue that behavior (which was, no doubt, learned at some previous—fearsome!—point). But when the outcome falls short of your expectation, you need to recover from the “failure” so as not to repeat the same expectation failure behavior again.
Learning occurs by this process. Be not afraid!
FEAR OF SUCCESS
Fear of Success, once again looks into the maw of the fear of the unknown. You may make up pictures of success, but if they are so huge and unfamiliar in comparison to the life you know, it’ll be frightening.
Even if your conscious mind is saying, “Oh boy, let me at it!” The subconscious mind is saying, “YIKES! I don’t know that territory, and I’m not moving into it.”
When the subconscious mind is not congruent with the conscious mind, guess which rules? Yes, the subconscious will dominate the outcome with numerous actions and behaviors of self-sabotage.
A primary Fear of Success is the fear of accountability. If you raise up a step on the ladder of success it feels like you must stay there, but it’s sort of high, and seems to require constant attention, which is uncomfortable and energy-tapping. It’s not difficult to talk oneself into not taking the step up the ladder in the first place.
There is also the Fear of Success of incongruity, of seeming to be someone you do not feel like you are inside. The Wizard of Oz was quick to say to Dorothy and friends when Toto pulled aside his curtain, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”
We all fear a little Toto who will reveal the true, small person, the faker. The solution is to move forward authentically, to give up these self-conscious thoughts to the part of you which knows your potential. (Feed your Toto a little yummy treat, so that he doesn’t go looking for mischief.)
As you will recall, when The Wizard of Oz finally stepped into his own, true, person-sized self, he then became truly great. He became helpful and wise and fulfilled his purpose.
That True Being is in each and every one of us, manifested in a vision of perfection by the creative force.
Another Fear of Success raises up when one is motivated by vindication, or an “I’ll show them!” attitude. This emotional terrain does not have a strong support under it. If success is based on vindication, it’s hollow and unsatisfying, because it’s about other people, not yourself.
That’s not to say that a bit of “I’ll show them!” isn’t motivating. But it’s not effective if it is the predominate emotion.
Fear of Success often revolves around guilt. Ah, guilt! That emotion that is about others, and not about one’s self. Some people experience guilt if they improve themselves beyond where their parents have managed to arrive, or if they exceed their peers. People suffer guilt if changing the order of things. Guilt laces the doubt about one’s choices.
Guilt will make you ask yourself, “If I’m successful at this, is it what I was meant to do? I feel guilty not doing what I’m really supposed to be doing (whatever that is).”
Or maybe you hear yourself saying, “I feel guilty not doing what someone else says I ought to be doing.”
Let All of That Go!
There is no place for guilt in the process of creation, in being on purpose, in moving toward your goals, fulfilling your heart’s desire. Guilt is the giving up of your personal empowerment to others, and therefore will never go away as long as you grant it permission to stay.
Banish all thoughts and feelings of guilt, which, in any case, is a very low level emotion. When someone attempts to cause you to feel guilty, this is about their envy, jealousy, and insecurities. Simply lay that guilt on a gilt platter and hand it right back to them, saying clearly within yourself that you have no use for it.
Don’t trouble yourself to explain, you do not have to defend yourself, and guilt-makers will not hear you anyway. Keep your vision of your work and your success clear. Banish fear and keep moving.
“I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me
and through me. Where the fear has gone,
there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
CONTEMPLATION: FEAR OF FAILURE, FEAR OF SUCCESS
We are driven to build structures from fear of excesses of cold and heat, we are driven to work from fear of starvation, we are driven to war from fear of loss of property, we are driven to reproduce from fear of loneliness.
But these fears are learned. We can learn to replace fear with more meaningful emotions. And we can become familiar with different levels of fear. Understand your fear. Get in the habit of contemplating your fear. Give it a number from one to ten. This undoes the power of fear, which, if we don’t stare it down and name it, always feels like a ten.
Fears are not objects that have their own reality. Feeling fear is a choice you make, choosing from among the myriad emotional options you have inside you.
If fear makes you uncomfortable, or impedes your motion toward your purpose, then stop, think, and make a different choice.
Say, “I choose to be Happy!” as Wayne Dyer suggests. Make a choice like that, and you’ll still receive the learning, while moving forward more effectively, not having to negate the fear.
Fears rarely equal consequences. The pictures your fears make are rarely what manifests. When you feel a fear, ask yourself, “what’s the worst that can happen?”
If afraid of public speaking, what’s the worst that can happen? You forget what you’re saying, you feel embarrassed. Okay. Did you DIE? No? Okay, not so bad.
Bring the fear down to the tiny thing it is, and choose a different emotion altogether. Why not choose to be happy? Say, instead. “I’m happy about public speaking.” Isn’t that a much nicer thought/feeling? Even if it’s incongruent, the more you harbor the thought, the more your feelings will fall in line with the though.
It’s just, exactly the same as having the thought of fear caused you to learn to feel fear. Change it. Grow away from fear. You have too much to accomplish to waste thoughts or feelings on fear.
And never forget to experience authentic GRATITUDE.
Masaru Emoto, who accomplished the amazing work in Messages from Water, which was featured in What the Bleep Do We Know, believes that gratitude is the very highest, most powerful, emotion we have. He says that it is, in his opinion, bigger than love. For myself, I see the two as inextricably linked. You cannot have the feeling of gratitude pulsing through you without love, and you cannot experience true, pure love without gratitude.
So, every time you make your way through some fear, be filled with gratitude for the experience. This lets your subconscious mind, your conscious mind, your emotional/feeling body, your higher self, your energy field beyond your body, and the cosmos know you are awake and conscious and taking in the opportunities that are presented to you.
Fears will melt away, leaving you with the path to your purpose open and beckoning.