Fear of Success: Are You Really Saying YES?

Today I am sharing an information packed guest blog post from Dr. Rev. Lorraine Cohen, and yes- she is one of my guests for my upcoming Spring Tele Summit Your Path to Success: YOU- Empowered and Uplifted on April 5- please enjoy her blog.

Fear of Success: Are You Really Saying YES?

“The mind gives us thousands of ways to say no, but there’s only one way to say yes, and that’s from the heart.” – Suze Orman

What’s your definition of success? Have you ever asked yourself that question? If you have, you might have realized that your definition of success has multiple answers.

Is it to have a thriving business that generates thousands or millions of dollars? Meeting that special someone and having the loving relationship you yearn for? Losing those extra pounds you’ve been holding on to and establishing a healthier lifestyle so you feel and look better? Becoming more consciously awake and remembering who you are or to make a difference in the world by helping others to have happier lives?

Success means different things to each of us. It’s natural to want to feel a sense of achievement; accomplishment for something we have done. And yet many people hold themselves back from actualizing their greatness because they are afraid.

In working with thousands of people over the last 20+ years, I have found the one of the most powerfull blocks that keeps people from making changes in their life is FEAR. For many, fear of success has been a big hurdle, even more than failure.

Who wouldn’t want to have more happiness, more money, more ease, more love, more… right?

Many times our focus is on a future success, something that is not yet in our immediate reality and hopefully, within our grasp. That is, if we want it badly enough.

Have there been times when you have blown an opportunity? Perhaps it was too much success too soon? Or, you had some good things happen that you felt you didn’t deserve so you unconsciously created ways to sabotage yourself? Sometimes the fear of actually having the things you dream about is stronger than the desire to realize your dream. It’s one thing to want something that appears to be out of reach. It is another to have it within your grasp.

Common beliefs regarding success:

  • People expect a lot from me and I must consistently deliver at a high level
  • If I succeed, people will expect me to succeed at everything I do
  • Success has to be hard
  • This will take too long
  • This is too hard
  • If I am successful, I won’t have any time for me
  • If I am successful I will lose my family (time, closeness, divorce)
  • Success happens for others, not me
  • I’m not smart enough, good enough…
  • People will judge me
  • People will be jealous of me
  • I’ll sabotage my success

 What is there to fear if you really say YES to success?

1. Fearing your own power. If you truly stepped into your potential, who would you become? Would you abuse your power? What might you actually accomplish? When you come to the end of your days on earth and look back over your life, what do you want to see as your legacy?

Remember the Marianne Williams quote from A Return To Love? “…Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of the Universe. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others…

2. More commitments and responsibilities. A few years ago I was taking a spiritually based class on money and success. In one of the exercises we were asked to imagine that we were standing with our arms open to receive all the money we could ever want or need. As the money came pouring in, we were then asked to notice what we were thinking, feeling, and experiencing. I fully expected to feel joyfull with my arms open wide with excitement for myself and all the good I might do in the world. Instead, my arms went up to block some of the flow. What a surprise!

I realized that success and money meant more responsibilities and commitments and I already had plenty to do!  Working more deeply with my beliefs around money and success helped me to shift my thinking so that I could attract more abundance into my life with having to add more stress by hiring people to help! Some worthiness issues also popped up to show me I had some further inner healing to do.

3. Success is life changing, personally and professionally. Success brings losses and gains such as saying goodbye to friends, making new ones, changing your lifestyle, becoming more visible and well-known. Great success can go to your head and have a negative impact. Look at some of the struggles celebrities have had with their successes. Success can also be isolating and lonely when people feel they need to look and show up a certain way for others because of the roles we take on in our personal and professional life as parent, father, wife, mother, boss, CEO ….. You know the old saying “It’s lonely at the top.”

Success calls us to grow up. Becoming  a mature adult might suggest that we must also suppress the spirit and playfulness of our inner child which is untrue unless we willingly choose to abandon that part of ourselves. Fear of success can feel scarier to many people even more than fear of failure. Having to maintain a high level of success can be daunting. And once you’re at the top, the belief might be that the only place to go next is down. We can easily forget that we are always at choice and can success can mean whatever we want.

4. Feeling like a fraud. Ouch. That’s a common fear of “being found out” or exposed to NOT be the person people want, expect, or think you really are. The fear is that if people find out the truth, they will judge you, leave you, stop loving you, throw you away……

Being discovered can feel like a terrifying threat and yet, I believe that we all just want to be loved and accepted unconditionally. The truth is that when we dare to expose the things about us we feel are unlovable to others and they still love us and want to hang out with us, we experience deeper intimacy, trust, and safety in our relationships.

5. You won’t have a life. Many people feel that if they reach a high level of success they will lose themselves in their work. They will be so busy having a prosperous business or career that they will have to sacrifice a fulfilling personal and family life. The key is getting really clear on your values, priorities, boundaries, and life vision so that you are making decisions that honor what matters most to you. With the limitless opportunities life offers, continuing to check in with yourself regularly will help you to make the right choices to enjoy your life.

Gail has a highly successful business staging people’s homes to be sold on the market. A go-getter, she built a thriving business from scratch in two short years. She worked long hours during the day and often on weekends. When she came to me she was exhausted and stressed complaining she had no life and was losing her passion for the work she loved. Once she got clear on her values, established stronger boundaries, hired some help, and narrowed her services, she began to feel relief. Within a year she made radical changes to her business, got married, created a kick-butt training program for wannabe home stagers, and began enjoying having both a thriving business and personal life.

Does this sound like you? 

Have you been resisting or denying who you are meant to be?

To learn more about what may be holding you back from stepping into the next and highest version of who you are, consider the following twelve questions:

1. What is your definition of success? What does success mean to you?  Be specific. (Psst is this your definition or one you think it should be?)

2. What fears, concerns, beliefs, expectations, or assumptions do you have associated with success? Is it possible that they are false?

3. What inspires you and gives you courage?

4.  Make a list of past successes, both big and small. Which ones are you most proud of?

5. What specific qualities, strengths, gifts, talents, passions, or skills empowered you to succeed?

6. What made them successes for you?

7. How have you benefited and grown from your past successes? What were the gifts and blessings?

8. What are you resisting, avoiding, or denying that is keeping you small?

9. If you let go and said YES, how would you and your life change?

10. What would you have to give up? What would you gain?

11. Who would you become? (happier, self-confident, authentic, stronger???)

12. To feel more successful, fulfilled, prosperous… what would need to change so you could turn your no into a YES?

Whatever definition you have for success, you are always at choice as to what you say yes or no to.

Many people feel success is dependent on a good result. It’s a failure if it doesn’t go the way they want. I challenge that belief saying, “We can celebrate success for any action we take regardless of the result because we are willing to try something new. Every experience offers a healing and growth opportunity. Being open to recognize the gifts and blessings, even if they feel undesired, can help you shift from a victim of circumstances to the hero of your own life story”.

Copyright © 2010, Lorraine Cohen. All Rights Reserved. Reverend Dr. Lorraine Cohen, President of Powerfull Living, is a spiritual life coach, advisor, inspirational speaker and broadcaster. She works with conscious business owners and leaders to know their value and claim their Divine Power to create a prosperous business, meaningful career and fulfilling life by aligning with their spirit.  Visit www.powerfull-living.biz to learn more and sign up to receive her free report, “Five Secrets To Attract Everything You Want.” 


Sheri Kaye Hoff, MA, CGCL Life Coach, Amazon and Barnes and Noble Author www.lifeisjoyful.org

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