Are You Afraid of Success?

Updated: Aug 27, 2019

Four hours ago, I would have thought this was the most absurd idea ever...really.  I strive for success.  My whole life is spent on trying to successfully meet a goal, setting a new one and then aspiring to meet that new goal.  Of course I'm not afraid of success! Or, am I?

As a life coach, I'm always working to learn new skills and improve the way I support my clients.  I started taking a new class from a reputable coaching school.  In this class, the first assignment was to examine our stumbling blocks.  There was a series of questions and by the end of those questions, I realized that I was literally afraid to succeed.

As the first and only (so far) person in my family to graduate from college, and one of only a handful that graduated high school, I have been surrounded by my share of struggle.  Now, I won't be dramatic here, I was clothed, fed and had a roof over my head.  But, it wasn't all roses.  We lived paycheck to paycheck and I clearly remember eating beans and potatoes for dinner more times than I can count.  As a child, I didn't know the difference.  I just knew there was food to eat, a warm bed with my name on it and clothes in my closet.  I lived in a nicer suburb where all the girls had the Gucci purses and Guess jeans, drove nice cars and had their hair cut at the salon (like an actual salon with stylists, not the $6.99 haircut special place).  That was not me.  I often got things at garage sales, hand me downs were like Christmas and blue light specials on a Friday night were awesome.  I knew that we lived paycheck to paycheck.  My dad was laid off a couple times and my mom would babysit to pay the bills.  I went to work at 14 years old so I could make my own money and buy the things I wanted.  I put myself through school, bought my own car and worked my butt off to get the things I wanted.  I never stopped.  My last W-2 job, I made a very nice salary.  More money than I needed, to be honest.  But I spent it.  I spent every penny I could spend until money was tight.  Why?

It was almost a compulsion.  I was anxious when I had "extra" money in my account.  In fact, I was so anxious that I would transfer anything left over at the end of the pay cycle to a different account that I never had to look at.  I knew I had a small bit of money saved, but as long as I didn't see it, I was good.  How ridiculous was this?  I knew I did it and I knew I felt better when there was a smaller amount left in my bank account, but I didn't realize I was actually anxious about having money in my account.  Until I did this exercise...

It hit me like a ton of gold blocks!  I loved being able to support myself and my family without struggle, but this was outside of my familiarity.  My childhood and most of my adult life had been spent worrying about money and wondering if I'd have enough to make it to my next pay day, borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.  THAT become my comfort zone.  THAT is what I've always known and what felt right for me.  This afternoon, my mind was blown!

What we've always known, is often, our comfort zone, even when it's not good for us.  This is why we often repeat cycles that our parents started, it's normal, comfortable and familiar.  Abused often attract and connect with abusers.  Addicts often attract and connect with addicts.  I broke out years ago and stepped out of what was comfortable.  I did this, mostly, because my dad drilled college into my head from the time he realized the whole country singer dream was NOT going to happen.  But, see, that was my normal, my dad telling me college was expected, so I never thought twice.

I'm now on a mission.  A mission to not only accept being financially comfortable, but to manifest it and celebrate it.  I don't mean I will boast (let's face it, comfortable doesn't necessarily mean wealthy), but I want to accept that I'm doing okay, better than most and find comfort in that instead of finding comfort in lacking.  My gratitude should be my primary focus, not my anxiety. 

What an eye opening experience!