Overcoming the Fear of Success
“Let people feel the weight of who you are and let them deal with it.”
-John Eldredge, Wild at Heart
A few years ago, I was struggling with my direction in life at a pretty deep level. I began to sink deeper and deeper into feelings of despair, unsure of the root of my problem. I desperately wanted to climb out of the hole I had buried myself in and climb to a place of peace, but I couldn’t shake the sense that some monster was following me, ready to pounce and take me down emotionally. I would definitely mark this period as a low point in my life.
But I’m a fighter, always have been, and I was determined not to allow these feelings to get the best of me. So, I searched. I dug deep. I tried and tried to look into the darkness to find the light. I prayed. I asked for guidance. I read. I questioned. Yet no matter how hard I tried, I became more and more frustrated. Finally, just at the point when I was ready to pop, I realized that the root of my problem was fear.
Naming the problem is always half the battle. However, I still had work to do to clarify the problem further and take care of it.
“What are you scared of?” I asked myself.
The first thing that came to mind was “failure.” As I pondered this, I definitely saw that the fear of failure had been working me over pretty well. Though I knew and believed that the only way to achieve was to be okay with failing from time to time, I still had to wrestle with fear over it.
But I knew that the fear I had been battling was attached to something more than failure. I prayed and pondered more, and what God showed me really surprised me.
I discovered that I had a bigger fear than the fear of failure. I was actually more afraid of success! Yep, that’s what I said. I was scared of my own possibilities for success. I was scared of the power that God had given me in the workplace, community, church, and at home. I didn’t fully trust myself with this power.
I know that might sound like arrogance, but in fact, it’s quite the opposite. I discovered that the issue of not trusting myself was rooted in the much bigger problem of not trusting God. Not trusting that He is, in fact, living inside me and craving to partner with me and co-labor with me. I didn’t really believe that I was “faithfully and wonderfully made.” As a result, everything I did was conflicted with inner anxiety, doubt, and insecurity.
Recognizing the root of my issue started me on the path to freedom. Though I still struggle, sometimes daily, with the fear of success, I see it for what it is now, and I have found strategies for remembering who I am and reminding myself to trust in God. As a result, I’ve been freed up to move forward with the things He’s put in my heart with passion and momentum.
What about you? Do you struggle with the fear of success? Are you setting limits on yourself that God has not set on you? Are you afraid of the power God has given you? Success is your destiny. God has given you unique strengths, passions, resources, and abilities to fulfill your purpose on earth. You are here to contribute—to thrive!
Fear is the weapon of the enemy. He wants to keep you back in the corner and out of the game. He knows there is power in you. He knows that God “makes no junk,” and he will work with great endurance to keep you from believing in your own strength, the strength given to you by your Creator.
Yes, you have power! God has given you a heart of strength. It’s your duty to show your light to the world—not in an arrogant, narcissistic way, but out of respect and gratitude for the One who made you. You are a servant of the Most High God, and that means that you are called represent Him to the world. You don’t do that by hiding your light; you do it by letting it shine brightly for all to see.
Let’s stop listening to the intimidating voice of the one who fears our power, and listen to the powerful voice of the One who has called and equipped us to succeed in life beyond our dreams—for our good and His glory.
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: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”