Fear of Success, Letting the Wild Animal out of its Cage


Attention please..three horses, put on their b...

Attention please..three horses, put on their best face! (Photo credit: jimmedia)

Writing or doing anything creative can be a real challenge, even if you aren’t doing it in the hope of earning fame or fortune or daily bread or any bread, or even just a bit of attention, even if you’re doing it just for yourself.  There’s something about it that’s scary.  Some kind of message in your head that you have to be perfect, you have to live up to an impossible standard that can’t be pinned down.  Pressure!

There’s something else, too.  It doesn’t cost anything materially to write, but the doing of it puts you at the coal face of your existence sometimes.  It defies logic.  The thing is, that part of you that needs to be let out, no matter what the mode of expression, is like a wild animal in a cage.  Keep it imprisoned and it either implodes in a way that impacts on you physically or you go a little or a lot crazy.  Well, let me speak for myself, it’s what happens to me.

I feel powerless, enervated and useless.  I get scared of life and people and I start debating the pointlessness of doing anything.  It’s a slippery slope from there, although the great thing about life is that I always get to a point where it’s unbearable and I’m provoked into crashing through whatever emotional or mental barrier is in the way of expressing myself.  Just do it! finally prevails.

What a relief.  Even if I’m not at all inspired and nothing of much sense comes out because my thoughts are all over the place and my focus is out of focus, the fear goes away once I actually start, get my hands dirty.  The pleasure of the doing is all that matters and my world view shifts in an instant.  Action is always easier to deal with, even if it’s challenging, than the debilitating debate should I shouldn’t I can I can’t I and what’s the point.  I suppose it’s because we only have power when we act.

I think the fear that rises up with non-action is pretty existential and getting beyond it can be a huge challenge. When you’re expressing yourself, even if you’re not doing a brilliant job of it, even if you tell yourself and the world you’re not creative, you have released some part of you that is authentic.  It’s you in the raw.  The first time we’re like that is when we’re babies.

We didn’t know it wasn’t okay to express ourselves.  But for many people their earliest experiences of being in their power were punishing, whether parents meant to punish or not.  Don’t be powerful is the most potent message visited upon children, overtly and covertly, by family members, society, religions.  We take all of that in at the time we’re most receptive.  It registers without our even knowing it, and becomes part of how we operate, how we respond to life.

I believe it turns into an inner, very ingrained expectation of being emotionally brutalized if we let that raw, creative part out and it controls us in adulthood.  Fear of success – If I let myself be powerful will you be threatened and attack me.  Will you leave me, abandon me – it can be hard-wired into every part of our being.  The weirdest thing is how we can be so unaware of it in childhood and adulthood.  All the excuses we make for not being able to do things – excuses that we believe – are a cover up for that immense fear.  But I’ll be annihilated if I let myself out.

Beliefs we’re controlled by are hard to dismantle.  I’ve tried so hard for much of my life to do it using my thinking brain.  It didn’t work.  I guess it’s because our thoughts aren’t what bond us.  Our emotions are.

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