Monday, March 27, 2017

Embrace Your Light: Overcome the Fear of Success.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. - Marianne Williamson

While we are on the topic of Fear, I wanted to talk about the fears we face on the road to creative success.

When you are fluent in demonology and hand out fear like Halloween candy, hearing statements like, “Embrace Your Fears” kind of loses its impact.  Like me, you're probably saying, “Embrace? Hell, I sleep with mine.” Okay, that might just be me. The point is, I’ve long ago embraced my darkness. Does that mean I’ve eradicated my fears? No, far from it. I have so many that I’m running out room to house them all. But, I’ve acknowledged them, some I’ve embraced, other’s bite, so I’ve had to cage train them.

Now, I've been a long time fan of Marianne Williamson, and I have a signed copy of the above quote framed and hung in my office. It has only been recent, however, that it's meaning has really sunk in. I, like many others, equated fear with darkness. Lightness is on the other side of that coin and as it turns out, just as hard to embrace. In some cases, harder.

I'm talking about the fear of success. It can be tricky to identify because at times it disguises itself as the fear of failure. Anyone who has been on a creative journey knows failure is inevitable, it is how we learn, and a natural cycle of growth and success. Albeit, an uncomfortable one. Success, on the other hand, is an unknown territory and differs depending on an individual's definition of what success is.

How to identify Fear of Success.
  • Procrastination. Not all procrastination is out of fear of success, but take a good look at your excuses for procrastinating.
  • Being a Professional Student. Obsessing over how to do something rather than actually doing it. An example is taking a lot of classes but not actually implementing what you've learned or doing the assignments.
  • Failure to Launch, because it isn't perfect or the perfect time, etc.
  • Fear of Change. Afraid of what you may have to sacrifice in order to achieve your goal. This one is a big one. 
  • Playing Small. You suffer The Imposter Syndrome. Whenever you do accomplish something, you discount it or downplay it.
  • Fear of Exposure. Afraid of all the things that could be exposed once successful and having to deal with it.
  • Lack of Confidence. Afraid you won't meet expectations. 
  • Fear of Confrontation. When you rather face down a horde of zombies, then have to deal with the haters. Because, for as many people who will lift you up, there will be those that live to tear you down. 

Ways to Embrace your Light.

Find or create a support group.
It doesn't have to include a lot of people, one or two will do. But, they have to be people who understand what you're trying to achieve and celebrate your wins, as well as,  honest enough with you to call you on your bullshit.

Build your confidence.
Have a plan.
Be specific about what you are trying to achieve, and its importance to you.
List out the steps you need to take to get there.
Give yourself realistic deadlines.
Reward yourself with each item you complete.
Whenever possible, make your intentions public. At the very least announce it to your support group, this helps you stay accountable, which builds confidence.
Don't compare your success to anyone else's. No one shoots out of the womb perfectly successful, we all have to work to get there, and there is no one true way carved in stone.

Learn how to brag.
I don't mean in an annoying, narcissistic kind of way. But, you should announce your accomplishments and celebrate when you hit milestones.

Take note of the change.
List 10 things that have changed about you over the past 5 years, over the past 10 years. Do you have the same hair style? The same job? etc. Nobody stays the same, the only thing that is sure in life is that things are going to change. It is helpful to see how we evolve and note that not everything is for the worse.

Fake it until you make it.
This is about acting confident until you've reached your goals.
Find someone who has achieved the same things you want and emulate them. This is not so you can judge yourself against them or become an exact copy of them. This person is a role model. It is helpful to have someone to refer to when you are in situations you lack confidence in. Ask what your role model would do in those situations. Use them as a guidebook, not a blueprint.

How about you? Have you experienced any of these fear of success hallmarks? Are there others you've noticed? What other things have you done to overcome it?

For those that are interested, here is the full quote by Marianne Williamson.
“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 God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is 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 for everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love.

Reading Recommendation: Art & Fear by David Bayles & Ted Orland

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