Let's talk about the Fear of Success
Updated: 6 days ago
Did you know many of us place an upper limit on our own income?
It can lead to you sabotaging success, but there is a way to avoid it dragging you down.
I help women release their fear or guilt, and to shift their beliefs and behaviours around money, so they can receive more of that lovely abundant money out there. As you know, I’m a BIG believer in women earning more of the world’s wealth, but there are lots of things that stop us from feeling like we are allowed to do this.
One of those things is a fear of success, which is every bit as damaging to your business as fear of failure. This is what leads us to putting an upper limit on what we think we can achieve. I'll be a running a free challenge soon to help you combat this, more info here, but first let’s talk a bit about what I do.
I start with helping my clients to uncover their money blocks. You might have heard of these and might have even identified what yours are. A money block is anything emotionally or mentally that is stopping you from making more money. They’re based on our long-term beliefs. Ever since we are small we are surrounded by messages about money, some of them positive and lots of them are negative. Growing up, we often take in information that money is somehow evil or makes us 'bad' people.
This is especially true when you think of the typical messaging around wealth and women. To be a woman and desire money in our culture, makes us 'greedy', 'lonely' and 'unlovable'. We might also glean from the outside world, or our own family story, that significant money comes with huge sacrifice, and very hard work. These the kind of things that create a block for us to be able to earn money without a huge amount of emotional confusion and guilt attached.
This is our programming. Lucky us!
Whatever your money blocks are, you won’t be on your own. The interesting thing is, it doesn’t matter how much you have in the bank, I come across the same limiting beliefs from millionaires as from people who haven’t yet made a profit in the business, or who are struggling with debt. More money does not remove the emotional blocks. (Removing the emotional blocks removes the emotional blocks).
So let’s talk about the fascinating topic of Upper Limiting. It’s a phrase that comes from Gay Hendricks’ book, The Big Leap, and I want to explain exactly what it means, because I think we all do this.
It comes from a hidden fear of success. You might not think you have a fear of success, because most people are focusing on a fear of failure. We are all trying so hard not to fail, that we don't even realise there might lots of reasons we don’t want to succeed.
So how do you know you have a fear of success?
When I suspect this is what’s going on for someone, I always ask them: what are all the negative outcomes if you are successful and wealthy. What could be bad about that? Sometimes they’re able to answer straightaway, other times it takes a little while because they’ve never thought about it before.
We are all trying so hard not to fail, that we don't even realise there might lots of reasons we don’t want to succeed.
Here are some of the things clients tell me, and they all start with 'what if'.
What if, when I’m successful/wealthy:
· I don’t fit in anywhere?
· My family don’t understand?
· My friends think I’m flashy or arrogant?
· I won’t be a good mum or partner any more?
· I won’t have any free time – I’ll have to work all the time?
· I have too much responsibility to handle?
· I don’t know how to manage wealth, it will get on top of me?
· I’m not thin enough, not pretty enough, not young enough?
· I’m not qualified enough?
· People will find me out for being a fraud? (Imposter syndrome.)
Can you add any to these? Let me know in the comments if something is coming for you that you don't see in this list.
The result: we put an upper limit on the amount of success we can have
What happens when these fears are going on? That’s where the 'upper limiting' comes in. We put an upper limit on how successful we can be, so that we can stay comfortable and safe.
We find ourselves even doing this with our thoughts and mood too. You might be relaxing at the end of a work day, thinking you had a great day. You signed up a couple of clients, everything is going well, your relationships are good, you’re feeling healthy. You feel great.
And that’s when your brain has trouble.
Because if you’re not used to everything going fine, everything going well, no problems at all thank you very much, your unconscious mind likes to feed you something to bring the balance back to the status quo. And if your status quo is to be a bit anxious about something, or if in your life there usually are problems of some kind, your brain will find a way to decide there’s something wrong.
You find yourself focusing on something bad that could happen, or thinking about the past – a traumatic memory gets thrown into the mix and suddenly you're not happy anymore - you're back to base line.
The bottom line is this. We're not used to everything being great, and when it is, we find it quite uncomfortable, sometimes impossible to sit in that space for long.
And the result is we put an upper limit on the amount of success we can have, on the amount of happiness we can experience and the length of time we can experience it for. Because subconsciously we want to stay safe, we want to be in the status quo, that emotional state, and that physical state that we are used to.
Why do people start to eat healthily, lose a bit of weight and then sabotage the whole thing five days in with a pizza and ice cream blowout? It’s because our brain starts to have trouble with change. It likes things safe, the way they are right now. Self sabotage is a sneaky devil.
In your business, you can sabotage our own success in ways you don’t even notice. Sabotage can look like all kinds of behaviours. You have goals, you know what to do to reach them more or less, and often people think if they’re not reaching them, it’s because of something external. Often that’s not the case.
Here are some things that I see clients doing when they have some of these fears. All of these things keep them playing small, keep them safe, so that they don’t have to face the fears.
So that they don’t have to be successful.
Here are some of those behaviours:
1. They create reasons that mean they can’t work on the business or launch this month. It could be a case of creating drama out of nowhere, somewhere else in their life, or it could just be perfectionism.
2. They don’t talk much about their premium offer, barely mention it and show up less on social. Because what someone actually buys it? What if lots of people do and they can’t cope?
3. They have a fear of visibility – what if they succeed and are seen as getting too big for their boots?
4. They spend all their money – anything that comes in they make sure they invest it back into the business in some way, because having money in the bank doesn’t feel safe.
This behaviour is seen in lottery winners all the time. I think in the US they actually give money mindset trainings to lottery winners now, so that the fear of having money and being financially secure for winners - when they have never had that before - doesn’t prompt them to spend it all in a year, so they can get back to their comfortable base level.
5. They don’t spend anything and accrue a lot of money in the business, because they don’t feel safe spending it. What if they do hire an assistant and have more clients, more success?
So what do we do about it?
Don't despair. If any of this sounds familiar to you, there is a really powerful exercise you can do. Do this now. Get a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. Put titles on the top of each column - on the left column, write Problem, on the right, Solution.
Under Problem, you’re going to write your fears, for example ‘my family won’t understand’. On the right hand side you get to problem-solve each of those fears.
If we take that as an example, 'my family won’t understand if I’m successful and rich'. Your solution might look a bit like this: ‘my family loves me, so they will understand even if not at first. Plus I can finally take my mum to that spa for the weekend that she’s always wanted to go to'. Or, 'if they don’t understand it doesn’t really matter – I don’t need outside approval to be awesome what I do.’
And so on. If you suspect you have a fear of success that’s keeping you from getting there, do this today, just spent 10 minutes scribbling out how you think you could solve the problems that could be caused if you get what you want. Doing this also means you’re building resilience for when huge success comes knocking on the door.
Enjoy the rewards when you do lift that limit - I think you'll be surprised!
PS - Download my free guide to get in the right mindset so you can happily raise your worth - 3 Steps to Confidently Raising your Prices
PPS - And, if you think your money beliefs are holding you back and you're ready to uncover and release them for yourself, book a free 30 Minute Breakthrough Chat with me.