“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure…” — Marianne Williamson
Although it has taken me many years to recognise fully and embrace this within my life, I now know that this is true.
I have finally realized that I have been fearful of success and stepping out of my own shadow.
Many people have never contemplated their success, let alone the concept of being fearful of success. They don't know what success looks and feels like, and what it would entail to realise. It's important to stress that success for each person is different. For many people, success is doing what they love, following their passion. It's about making a contribution and difference in this world. It's giving back to society, helping others, and feeling valued, loved and appreciated.
Success isn't defined purely by financial gain.
The way we have been brought up and the roles many of us have taken on in life often encourage or require us to put others before ourselves; there is no getting away from this. But if we analyse this further, there is also a belief system and misconception, especially for anyone in a caring role, that we should always put others' needs before our own. So if we do spend time on ourselves and our success we are perceived to be selfish, which isn't true or helpful.
Many parents, for example, though particularly mothers, have grown up believing their main or only role and focus is to look after their children and provide for them. As a mother myself I can understand this. I want to provide the best opportunities for my children. I also have a desire to guide and mentor my children through life to allow them to be the best they can be and to fulfil their potential.
However when I recently reflected on this further, I realised that I have focused so much of myself on my children. Whether this has been in relation to time, money or simply trying to maintain my sanity, my true potential has been slowly slipping away, and I hadn't even realised.
Don't get me wrong, I love my children, they are my world and I would do almost anything to help them. However, I now look at things slightly differently. I know, believe and understand that this is only one element of my role as a mother. In fact, I owe it to my children, as well as myself, to be the best I can be and to lead by example. Including being successful and unafraid of success.
I want to show my children how liberating and positive it is to live a more authentic life and how success merely then becomes the by-product.
My desire to be my true self and achieve all I am supposed to is also now far greater than any previous concern about what others think of me or making mistakes along the way. I know how important it is for my children to see what it means to be the best version of myself so that they can learn to do the same and feel safe in doing so.
For those of you who do know what personal success looks like, perhaps you haven't expressed it or taken steps to embrace this because it feels wrong to do so. Perhaps you also fear ridicule or being rejected by others. After all, others may perceive you as being arrogant or egotistical. Friends and family may judge you if you suggest that you believe you could be successful and make a difference in this world. Or so that is what most of us fear.
So it's unsurprising that most people haven't gone a step further in this thought process.
They haven't recognized that they could have a fear of success. They haven't acknowledged that fear of success could be preventing them from realising their dreams and ambitions.
The thought of success can be initially exciting. That is until our enthusiasm turns to contemplation and trepidation about all the things we will have to do and give up to achieve our dreams. Working long hours, making sacrifices, spending less time with those closest to us are just a few examples, the list is endless. We then begin to fear success, scared that success will ultimately change us into someone we don't want to be.
There is no doubt that working towards success and our dreams can be hard at times.
However, we need to remember that when we are doing something that we are passionate about it doesn't always feel like hard work. It can be tiring because we are human and there are only so many hours in the day to do things. But equally it is also energizing and exciting to be doing something we are committed to and love.
What I also continue to learn is that when we flourish and fulfil our true potential, we love others more, simply because we are much happier within our skin. We are also more able and willing to offer the best part of ourselves to help others. Not only is this extremely beneficial to everyone in our life or those who cross our path, but is a success in its own right.
So the next time you become fearful of success and feel yourself slipping into the negative thought process of ‘why me?', turn it around and think ‘why not me?'