I’ve been noticing at this time that those of us who are on the path of conscious evolution are being nudged to the next level of awakening to our true selves. As a therapist and soul worker, I feel called to assist in lifting the collective veil so that we live more authentic lives. For me, it means continuing to challenge conventional wisdom, to find new pathways towards our evolution.
One thing I have noticed increasingly is that many people who regularly consume self-help and spiritual healing products remain stuck in unhappiness. Chasing after the next new book, course, seminar, healing modality has become an addiction in our quest to liberate ourselves from continued suffering. Yet, as the high of the promise and hope of the product leaves you, you find yourself back to where you’d started:
You’re still unable to break through your blocks to express yourself naturally, to be the person you know you truly are deep down.
Years of working on breaking through the issues that hold you back from being who you really are have not brought you to the liberated place you yearn for. The guilt and regret of not fulfilling your dreams as your projects remain uncompleted are still consuming you.
In your frustration, you want to scream, “Why can’t I break through this once and for all?” You then look for the next product or guru that is going to give you the key to being self-confident, fearless, expressive, creative and all the other qualities you perceive are in a successful person.
If this describes you, there may be a way out of this cycle by reflecting on this: maybe what you’re really fearful of is that you will succeed. It’s not that you feel inadequate or lacking in confidence about your abilities, but you are afraid of actually making it.
Fear of Success and Self-Sabotage
Individuals with a fear of success don’t usually realise it is success that they fear. Because of this fear, their psyche creates a set of superficial issues that conceal what they are really dealing with. So you may end up working for many years to resolve your feelings about being inadequate, unworthy or not good enough. You wonder why you can’t achieve a breakthrough.
The reason is, as you continue to work on the self-fabricated issues, it reinforces in you that these are the issues you are struggling with. It is a brilliantly constructed story: that you feel inadequate, insecure, lacking in confidence, etc. But deep down, you don’t really feel these things – they are merely there to serve the purpose of preventing you from stepping out and being the success that you naturally are in your original blueprint.
In your attempt to prevent yourself from succeeding, you may even manufacture being ill, or create situations that restrict your options. There is a strong self-sabotage and self-punishing mechanism embedded in this pattern to stop you from succeeding.
If you haven’t considered yourself to be driven primarily to sabotage your achievements, it may come as a shock to you. But I am betting that somewhere in you, there’s a spark of excitement knowing that you have connected to something that is true in you.
You see, fear of failure is more obvious. It is ostensible. It’s safer for us to think that we’re afraid of failing, since it is more rational than wanting to fail. Everybody wants to be successful, right? Not really. Believing this is so would only allow us to keep fighting our battle on this level to avoid facing our deeper truth: that we might be so deeply wounded psychologically that we’re driven to act contrary to what any sane person would do.
Fear of success is more insidious. It is deeper, and it plays out more subtly – fulfilling our agenda to destroy our chances for happiness. We might be motivated to do so to keep the peace for fear of causing conflicts with those who’re envious of us. Or we might be afraid of the responsibility that comes from expressing and sharing our gifts with the world (a kind of obligation to uphold our integrity). We might even be resistant to giving up our unhappiness for fear that it may be “game over” for us, if it’s the only thing we’ve ever known.
Why is this important to know when consuming personal growth products?
Self-help assumes that everyone wants to be successful. It seldom takes into account the fact that many people actually have a fear of success. Typical motivation material tells you that you are amazing, you are powerful, and so on. It tells you that you can do it, you can achieve anything you want.
The problem is, if you have a fear of success, deep down you already know all that. Not knowing you are amazing, powerful, that you can do it, is not the problem; your problem is that you are afraid of being all of that!
This is a major point that the industry does not consider when putting out products. Or maybe it is deliberately unaddressed to keep us chasing for more products to buy knowing we will continue to do so as long as we’re kept in the dark about what we’re really dealing with. Whether it is honest ignorance or a sales tactic, the fact remains that people who have a fear of success are led further and further away from healing what, on a soul level, they want to heal.
Why Affirmations Don’t Work
Most self-help products include the use of affirmations. If you have a fear of success, it can cause two undesirable outcomes:
- It reinforces the lie you have manufactured to cover up your real fear. For instance, by stating, “I am confident,” you are reinforcing the fact that you don’t think you’re confident – which is a lie since you don’t really have an issue with confidence, not really. Thus, it keeps you stuck where you are.
- It increases your resistance to achieving success. In the same example, if you’re stating, “I am confident,” and deep down you don’t want to be confident (you already are), it will make you want to sabotage it even more.
Thus, affirmations, the way we’re typically taught to practise, don’t work for those with a fear of success. If you want to work with affirmations, the only way it will work is to modify the way you apply it. Here’s how to do it:
Phase #1: Feeling Safe
Basically, you don’t feel safe being successful (success can mean different things to you). Thus, if you’re going to work with affirmations, you would want to begin by prefacing a typical affirmation with, “It’s safe for me to…” Like this:
“It is safe for me to feel good.”
“It’s safe for me to do what I love to do.”
“It is safe for me to accomplish success.”
“It’s safe for me to be loved.”
“It is safe for me to be happy.”
“It’s safe for me to have a comfortable life.”
Can you imagine what effect it would have if you were afraid of being all of that and you simply affirmed that you are that? On a superficial level, you’d be trying to convince yourself that you are something which you don’t want to believe you are – and which you already are, only you are pretending that you aren’t. Whilst on a deeper level, you’re entrenching your fears about being that, which drives you to resist it and sabotage yourself even more. You may end up twisting yourself in a huge psychological knot that keeps you stuck at best and at worst, causes great confusion and destructiveness.
As you work with the modified affirmations, be aware of merely reciting statements, as if the statements themselves have some magical power. When affirmations work, it is not because of the number of times you recite it or how fervently you say it. It’s due to the internal shifts you make, triggered by what you’re saying.
Therefore, feel what is going on in your body as you are saying it. Feel the resistance, and work through it internally. Do this first phase for a few weeks or until you feel no resistance and you’re utterly convinced of the statement.
Phase #2: Accepting The Idea
After you have worked on feeling safe, you can proceed to stretch yourself to accept the idea of yourself being that. In this phase, you may preface your affirmations with, “I accept…” or “I wholeheartedly embrace…” Like this:
“I accept that I’m doing what I love to do.”
“I wholeheartedly embrace the fact that I am a success.”
“I accept that I can have a comfortable life.”
Again, notice your resistance as you are affirming these statements and work through it internally – until you are in total acceptance of that idea.
Phase #3: Loving It
Now you can stretch yourself to the next level of appreciation, by adding the preface, “I love that…” to your statements. Like this:
“I love that I’m doing what I love to do.”
“I love feeling good.”
“I love that I am happy.”
(recognising that these traits and tendencies have always come naturally to you)
As you progress to this phase, notice the resistance in you and overcome it by working through it internally. Do this for a few weeks or until you are totally convinced of the statements you’re affirming. Granted, this is a longer process than the stock affirmations that people do. But it addresses the more complex dynamics that may be playing out in our psyche so that it can actually be effective, rather than us blindly reciting a bunch of statements without getting us anywhere.
Addressing the Fear Itself
Apart from working around your fear by modifying your affirmations, you can also address the energy of the fear itself. There are many ways to do this but here I offer one of my favourite approaches.
Get a sense of the energy you’re afraid of. Feel the sensations. If you strip the fear of all concepts, it is just an energy.
Get a sense of the spiritual power in you. The sensations of fear may feel disempowering, but notice how it also contains a lot of power. It is not very different from your spiritual power.
Perhaps it is one and the same.
Contemplate this idea while staying in the discomfort of the fear.
How might fear of success have played out in your life?
How do you choose to empower yourself with this realisation?