Fear of Success

Our Road
Our Road

“Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.” ~ George S. Patton

“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” ~ Michael Jordan

“A champion is afraid of losing. Everyone else is afraid of winning.” ~ Billie Jean King

“Do something you really like, and hopefully it pays the rent. As far as I’m concerned, that’s success.” ~ Tom Petty

My sister Celeste and I were talking the other day about pursuing our life’s dreams and some realizations we’ve had along the way. She is a certified life coach, but has had difficulty getting her career started. However, since moving to the Seattle area, it looks like her business will be taking off. That’s what started our conversation about success. As we were talking she said, “I think I’m afraid to succeed.” Boy could I relate to that because I’ve felt the same way about my writing.

As we talked we acknowledged that the same situation applies to both of us. We get used to our life circumstances and it’s hard to visualize living any other way. Does that ever happen to you? It takes a great deal of effort to create a new way of living. If you choose to create an unconventional life, you have to give up some things that are fun but not productive in your old life. And you face opposition, people will not hesitate to tell you that your dream is not worth the effort, or that you will never succeed so you may as well give up. It’s difficult to shut out the naysayers. You have to be willing to fail, perhaps many times before you succeed and that’s scary.

Celeste and I both want to live a new kind of life. We want to help people while we do what we love and make money doing it. We both long to travel, be open to new and unexpected experiences,  and we want to meet new and interesting people with a different perspective than our own. These are dreams we’ve talked about over the years, but for some reason it’s been difficult for us to break out and go for that new life. Both of us have suffered through some difficult times, especially financially. That’s one thing that is the hardest to overcome, our financial circumstances. We get so used to living with less that it becomes hard to see ourselves as being prosperous.

Celeste and I both think that visualizing what it feels like to have abundance and success while at the same time helping others is essential to making our dreams come true, which got me to thinking about the circumstances in which we were born. Our parents struggled with money until later in their marriage. I’m the oldest so life was more difficult for me than for Celeste who is the youngest. For example, I wore lots of hand-me-down clothes growing up. When mom and dad had more money, mom continued to act as if they didn’t have enough to buy my younger sisters the clothes they needed. She was stuck in her old thinking that they had to do without many of the nicer things in life. Dad on the other hand embraced their more prosperous situation and always made sure my sisters had the things they needed. Sometimes Celeste and I find ourselves stuck in our mom’s pattern of thinking instead of our dad’s. That’s one of the struggles we each face in making our dreams come true.

Most people continue on much as their parents did. There is nothing wrong with that, but there are people who long for a different kind of life. They have dreams that go in a different direction from their “tribe”, as Wayne Dyer called it. My sister Celeste and I, and our husbands are such people. Something inside drives us to seek out a new kind of life, one that doesn’t appear to be outwardly secure but is highly creative. We want to take the road less traveled and that’s the tension we feel each day as we struggle to support our families yet create something new.

Even though we’re taking the road less traveled, there are others who have forged the paths that we want to take, it’s just that not as many have chosen these paths and that makes our desire to follow them a little scary. There aren’t as many footprints to follow. Sometimes the footprints are lost all together and we have to guess how to reach our destination. Every day we have to reassess and move forward with our plans. We have to give ourselves a break if we take two steps forward and one step back. That’s all part of the game.

So, we’re both excited and a little frightened to think about how we’ll react when we succeed. Celeste and I feel that if we’re not a little frightened of the outcome, it’s not worth doing. The thing we look forward to is the fact that we’ll both be living very different lives than the ones we’re experiencing now and as far as we’re concerned, that will be wonderful.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

Following My Own Star

Stars
Stars

“The tragedy of life is often not in our failure, but rather in our complacency; not in our doing too much, but rather in our doing too little; not in our living above our ability, but rather in our living below our capacities.” – Benjamin E. Mays

“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 in 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

I’ve always had a longing to follow a different star than many of my classmates, family and friends. For many years I kept that desire hidden because I was afraid. I was afraid of what others would think, of what I’d have to sacrifice, but mostly I was afraid to trust that all would be well if I threw caution to the wind and followed the guidance I was being given. Oh how I wish I hadn’t wasted all that time.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve stopped caring about the opinions of others. The voice, or feeling drawing me toward complete immersion in joyous creation is stronger than all my petty fears ever were. I’m so much happier now than I’ve ever been in my life. Each morning I wake up looking forward to the day instead of dreading doing work that kills my soul.

This phenomenon of following your own star isn’t new nor is it happening only to me. Every single one of us have our own star to follow, our own purpose to fulfill. Some of us grab ahold and have the ride of our lives. Others are like Ivan Ilyich, a character in the story, “The Death of Ivan Illyich” by Leo Tolstoy. Ivan Illyich has taken pains to build a life that looks great from the outside, but he has never fulfilled the purpose he came to live. Perhaps he was too afraid of who he really was, or he didn’t want to do the work necessary to follow his heart. Who knows what blocks us from fulfilling our dreams. On his death bed Ivan realizes that because he tried to make his life look good, he was selfish. He didn’t offer up his talents to help anyone else. I like the way Wayne Dyer says it, “Don’t die with your music still in you.” The saddest thing is when someone realizes in their final moments, that for whatever reason, they wasted their life doing things they hated. It’s sad when people ignore their calling.

The paradoxical thing is that to be of service to the world, we must often appear selfish when it comes to listening to our inner guidance. It’s only when we listen and follow that we can be in true partnership with the Divine, and bring something extraordinary to help lift humanity out of darkness. There have been many people throughout history that we identify as those types of people. The thing is we don’t allow ourselves to think that we can be one of them too. At least I didn’t allow myself to think that until recently. We don’t have to be Jesus, or Buddha, or Gandhi, or any of the other giants of history to make our contribution. Think of life as a puzzle. If one piece is missing the picture isn’t finished. Not all pieces are bright and prominent, but each piece is needed.

You might ask, how will I know what my purpose is? The way I knew was by paying attention to my feelings. I asked myself what activities and tasks brought me joy. When I was in the midst of doing what I loved, time stood still and at the end of it I felt energized, not drained. The trick is to put more of your focus and determination into doing what brings you joy rather than the things that don’t. Little by little you will be able to drop what doesn’t serve you and live a purpose driven life.

That’s actually been my goal in life all along, to live in partnership with the Divine, to fulfill my purpose. To listen to that still small voice and follow It’s guidance. Over the years I’ve come to understand that everything I do, whether I’m letting my ego take control, or I’m listening to the Divine whisper, I’m affecting the world. It’s not a new concept, the idea that we’re all connected. The thing is, once I felt the truth of this idea, I was much more careful about what I thought and did.

I know now that Marianne Williamson’s quote above is right. It doesn’t help anyone to play small. That quote is one of my favorites, because it’s as if she wrote it directly to me. Many times I felt the pull to blend into the background and play small. I was afraid of my own light. Not anymore.

It’s long been my mission to empower people. No matter what work I was doing, that has always been my goal, to help people come out of the shadows and shine so the whole world benefits from the light. That’s been my goal because it’s what I most need to learn. Let’s learn it together.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Resenting the Success of Others

“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 in 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

December Sunrise
December Sunrise

One day this week, Mastin Kipp’s blog Daily Love made me do a bit of thinking about my own creative process. The title was “Is it okay to share your success too?”

I read Daily Love every day, because in each blog Mastin is vulnerable. He writes about how he’s messed up, and what he’s learned from his experiences. Lately he’s been blogging about some recent successes. Interestingly, he’s been getting negative feedback about these posts, which made me think about my own process, and ask some important questions.

Why do we do that? Why do we get upset when someone with whom we’ve had a relationship, finds success? I have a theory about that. I’ll use myself as an example, because that’s the only perspective I’ve got, but see if this is true for you too.

For most of my life, I wallowed in self-hatred. I don’t know why I did that, because I had great parents who loved me. Though over the years, I’ve come to see that I picked up some of those feelings from my mom. She had a really hard childhood, and has struggled to like herself too. Whatever the reason, I set out to let go of the self-loathing and learn to love myself. It took me many, many years. When I had achieved a measure of self-esteem, I could allow myself to let go of the small life I had been living, and strive to become who I’d always wanted to be, a story teller through the written word.

For a while I rejoiced that I was doing what I loved most in the world. But, after a while, I was getting impatient. I wanted success to come knocking on my door. Other writer acquaintances in my area were becoming successful, and I was envious. Though I never gave them negative feedback, I understand why we sometimes snipe at people who’ve achieved success. I wanted what they had. I wanted to have people read my blog, and my stories. However, I wanted it to come easily. I didn’t want to do the work necessary to create that success. I mean, I’d have to go outside my comfort zone, and learn how to put myself out in the world. Yikes! That was scary.

What’s more, I had all these new feelings. I was living in a kind of transitory place. The self-hatred was gone, but I had no idea what being a success in my chosen work felt like. While I was in this netherworld, I was irritated when another local writer would talk about the number of books they’d written, their fan base, or that their latest book had been optioned for a movie. How did they do it? How did they get to be successful?

It’s fortunate that I think about questions like that. I can be an obsessive thinker, but that was a good thing in this case. I decided to do a bit of study about how to be my own boss. Sifting through all of the information out there took some time. Eventually I chose Marie Forleo and her weekly business videos, Marie TV. Something about her “you can do it approach” appealed to me.

Be advised, that you have to find your own tips and teachers. What works for me, might not work for you.

I’ve written in past blogs about the necessity to just do the work. Along the way something triggered that idea for me. Every morning I made writing my top priority, and slowly my feelings about other writers began to change. The reason they were successful, was because little by little they worked to perfect their writing. Their commitment was to pay attention to what they were doing, and not compare themselves to anyone else. That’s the key. Each creative person is unique, so is their artwork. We become envious of someone else’s success when we haven’t found our own voice, or we are afraid to step into the world in which we want to live.

No one achieves success over night. It takes work to find your own unique expression, and to make connections that will spread the word about you, and what you do. You have to be willing to be vulnerable, and open to whatever may come. And, you have to have a great imagination about the new life you’re going to be living. There are lots of great teachers out there to help you along the way.

If you want to sample Mastin Kipp’s work, here’s a link to his website where you can sign up to receive his daily blog: Daily Love. In my opinion, he’s got great insights about the struggles, and joys we face every day. Here’s the link to Marie Foleo’s site as well. She’s got great tips for entrepreneurs, which is what you are if you’re an artist. Last week on Marie TV, she interviewed Arianna Huffington about her new book Thrive, which is what we all want to do.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014