This is a two-part post, guest authored by Lisa Stiefel. Check out Part I of this series on her blog: Success. Is it what you think?
‘WTF is wrong with me?!’ A few years ago, I spent the whole entire month of August in the funk of all funks.
It’s actually a non-story, really, so sorry for being anticlimatic. I was just walking to work one ordinary morning, letting my thoughts go through my head, then, ‘BAM!’ A brief moment of insight into my psyche:
Isn’t success and achievement what we all strive so painstakingly for? Isn’t that what we want? I answered those questions with yes. So then why do I create roadblocks, self-sabotage my own progress, or just get weird and squirmy about doing things I know are important to me and that I definitely want to accomplish?
Because I’m afraid of success.
What I realized then remains true about me to this day- I’m actually more afraid of success than of failure. Initially I found this completely strange about myself, but on further reflection as I worked my way out of my funk, it began to make sense. If I try something and fail, no big deal, I can always try again. As a self-identifying avid life-long learner, I’m pretty cool with that. Trying over and over is my comfort zone.
Why is success so scary?
Success, on the other hand, is beyond my comfort zone. Succeeding at my aim means that I need to expand beyond my current boundaries. It means I need to figure out what’s next for me and then begin taking steps towards new goals. It means that I’ll have grown, and with growth also comes new levels of responsibility. That, in turn, begs the questions: Am I really up for carrying that new responsibility? Can I do it? How will it change me? Am I ready for that change?
I can’t say that I’ve overcome this fear of success, nor do I know that I ever will. I have, however, managed to recognize it in myself and call it by its name. Just having that awareness helps me to notice when it’s creeping in on me, showing itself in my procratination, or my digging my heels in, or my manufacturing of far-fetched excuses for not doing things I really love and want to do.
What coping mechanisms do you use?
When these symptoms of fear appear in me, I know it’s time for some inner dialogue. This inner dialogue is my coping mechanism; what kind of a life-long learner would I be if I allowed my fear to stunt my learning, anyway? I tell myself to just lean into accomplishing my aims. I try to be gentle and kind towards myself, and give myself permission to take a break and rest if I need to, but know that I’ll need to get back to it once I’m ready. I get quiet, and visualize how it would feel for me to already be on the other side of accomplishment, and I try to bring that feeling of knowing how success feels into the present task at hand. I try to recall similar past achievements, and remind myself You’ve done this before, so you can do it again.
And so I talk gently and patiently with myself, dropping the ‘WTF’ out of my inner dialogue, as I walk myself through the process of taking one small step, and noticing that everything is ok, that I haven’t been struck by lightening, nor have I buckled under the pressure of this newly adopted level of responsibility. I lean a little more, and take the next little step, trying to feel that I’ve got firm footing.
And eventually I get there.
For my dear Kickstart a Causers:
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading; thanks so much for taking the time to let me share with you!
I would be delighted if you kept in touch with me, so please stop by my site and pick up some goodies designed to help you develop your command of communication and the English language. You’ll get your pick of worksheets for a variety of English language related areas, and regular updates with all the news!
Thanks again and have a lovely day!
About the Author...
Lisa Stiefel is an English language professional currently based in Germany. She teaches ESL to adult learners in companies, at postgraduate level, and online. In addition she writes, translates, edits, and proofreads. She is a film junkie of the worst sort and loves good vegetarian cooking. Visit her at www.english-with-lisa.com.
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About the Author
Hi, I'm Jason, founder of Kickstart a Cause, teaching you to unlock your true potential and create a life you were born to live. When I'm not inspiring greatness in others, I can be found travelling the world exploring the beauty of nature.
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