Fearing Success: The Vulnerability in Achievement


Imagine sitting down and finally writing that book you have talked about in and out of your head for at least 20 years. You put in the blood, sweat, and tears that is needed to take the internal battle of your thoughts and have them spew out in a coherent, engaging format that is enjoyed by others. Imagine that these “others” love what you wrote, tell you how much it meant to them, how brave you were for sharing as much of yourself as you did, etc, etc…. Dream come true? Not for me. Instead, this vision has me running to the bathroom in horror as I am terrified about being a successful writer even though it is my dream. When I imagine finally writing a successful memoir, I am immediately paralyzed and have been for decades. Ironically, it is not the idea that NOT a single person may read my book, but the very idea that millions of people may buy my book that causes this feeling. I am embarrassed to even admit that in print as it feels egotistical (really, millions of copies? Who am I thinking I am?). I am so incapacitated by this thought that I cannot sit down to get past the first sentence of chapter one. Seriously, I have the first sentence clearly ready to go (oh, and the title of my book, “Holes in my Wall”, in case you were interested). Yep, I’m on it.

I have been attempting to create self efficacy in my “toe in the water” blogs such as this one, but even these are scary for me. I sit and stare at the computer screen and the blue “publish” button mocks me from the side trying to get me to second guess every single word and line. “Who is going to want to read what YOU have to say?“, my brain screams at me. I have read works by prose artists who can string together words like musical lyrics dancing together under starry night skies. This is not me. I am directive, sarcastic, and blunt in life and it tends to translate into how I write. I have to tone down my words in order to be more appealing to a general audience. I continue to work on what “my voice” in writing should sound like. To have it sound just like me seems somehow presumptuous and I continue to play around with ways to sound unlike me and more like a different version of myself. Softer, more supportive, maybe? I’m not entirely sure this is the right approach because in the battle of me v. my computer screen, I am not winning.

As I continue to struggle with how to overcome my fear of writing my memoir, I have realized my “stuckness” is based and rooted in the core of my vulnerability. When I write, and feel brave enough to let go, I feel so exposed. Naked. This feeling of rawness keeps me frozen and I can’t move forward. Hey, I have been working on this. I have watched, “The Secret”, and know I am supposed to use my positive energy to send out to the universe what my largest desires are so that I can attract them into my life, but I cannot do even this. I literally sit down and have conflict with my positive attraction meditations:

See yourself being a world famous author…” (cool music is playing and a light show is going through my mind)

“NO, I feel vulnerable.” (light switch on, music stops)

You must feel the excitement and joy that this success will bring you as if it is really happening right now!” (cool people with neat eyes are staring at me making me believe)

“OMG, Everyone is staring at me and asking me questions about myself. They all think I’m a fake, I can’t really write anyway…Am I wearing the right outfit?” (pulls me right into the hear and now with a racing heart)

It’s really ridiculous when I play it out in my mind. The likelihood that I would pull off writing a critically acclaimed memoir is statistically low and I simply need to sit down and just begin. I call that internal hierarchical critical voice appropriately “The Judge” after one of the characters that live in our head according to one of my favorite books by Don Miguel Ruiz,”The Four Agreements”. My judge is an angry overweight woman with a mean voice and she is stopping me cold in my tracks and has for years. I wonder if everyone struggles with a similar fear of success. I do not hear as much about this in social media. Maybe it is because to imagine being successful is a egoistic perspective that many people aren’t really comfortable talking about with each other. I imagine the conversation going somewhat like this:

Hey Bob, I’ve been feeling amazingly successful lately and it’s causing me to feel a bit vulnerable, exposed, naked you know?

“Um, Yeah…Poor You. Get over it.”

So I blog today to put myself out there in the hopes that I will continue to build up my courage to become exposed in my writing. I’m curious how many of you readers/writers experience a similar fear in the areas of your life that make you feel vulnerable. Please leave your comments below.

Yours in Health,
Stacey Neil


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. benjaminhaggith
    Apr 15, 2014 @ 17:18:15

    this post definitely struck a chord with me…just getting my blog started and publishing my thoughts online took me months to finally do…but it feels great every time I hit that publish button.



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