Fear-300x241“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.” ~ Marianne Williamson.

Many people fear success. They fear what they will lose by succeeding.

Life is made up of many life events strung together like lights on a Christmas tree. The string that holds all of the lights at short or long intervals is loss. Loss hold together all life events. We must give something up in order to gain something new.Each event in our life requires that choices be made. Take for example the woman who wants to write her memoir. Let’s call her Ellen. Let’s assume she is in her seventies, her children are grown, and she has a handful of grandchildren who are full of promise. She loves her family. She wants to write a memoir about things that happened in her life long ago. These things are the things we don’t speak of. These are her secrets. She is a great writer and has received praise for what she has published. She wants to write this book, but she cannot.

Ellen is stuck with fear. She is afraid of what she will lose if she succeeds with her memoir. People will know her secret, her children will know a side of her they do not know, and she will achieve notoriety. It isn’t the success that bothers Ellen. She would like to achieve that before her life is over. What bothers Ellen is what she will lose. Let me explain.

Ellen fears she will lose her anonymity. This is almost a guarantee. She will lose the way she is seen by her children. Also a guarantee. She will lose her secret, her privacy, and the story she has told herself about the secrets. Once a story is shared it is up for editing and revision by others. She will lose history as others have known it. History will need to be rewritten. She fears losing her children’s respect. She fears her children will relate to her differently. She fears it will not be the same.

Every life event, including the choices we make toward success, rewrites history. We will keep some things and we will lose others. Ellen’s secret is that she had two children before her children were born. Ellen was pregnant once by a rape and a second time by way of a one-night stand. She gave both babies up for adoption, went on with her life, and then met a man, married and had several more children. Her children and her husband never knew of the other children. Her memoir is riveting and a story about resilience, hope, love, and motherhood. She fears what she will lose by succeeding in the telling of her story; in the telling of her truth.

If you struggle with success you may want to ask yourself what you fear you will lose if you succeed. In my clinical practice this is a common theme of exploration. Sometimes a young med student fears finishing medical school or freezes up with her exams. What does she fear losing? Then there is the man who is unhappy in his marriage and he opts for an affair, rather than addressing the concerns he has with his wife. What does he fear losing? Most clinical examples involve fear, loss, life events, and success.

What do you fear you would lose by succeeding?

Take care,

Nanette Burton Mongelluzzo, PhD