Fear of Success

Today, Thanksgiving, was a dream fulfilled. Last year, separated from all family, I was alone on Thanksgiving. The thing that helped me through was my dream of the future–the house Back East would sell, we’d pack up and move, buy a house and have Thanksgiving in the West. And that’s exactly what happened today. And to top it off, we ate outside. In November. It stopped raining long enough.

And I almost missed it. It’s an old pattern. A dream starts to form and come into reality and I start to panic. Oh, no, I’ll have a dream come true. I’ll have to admit it. I’ll have to be responsible for all that joy. I won’t be happy enough. Or serene enough. Or it wasn’t perfect and I’d wanted an imperfect dream. And I wasn’t thin while it happened.

Luckily, I stopped myself. While my family was passing around the stuffing and cranberry sauce, I realized that I had come through a very difficult year. I had experienced a lot of growth and a lot of slips backward. Just yesterday I heard from a prospect that I spent a great deal of preparation on–I didn’t get the job. So how could I allow myself to be happy? Because compared to a year ago, I have made progress in my life, and I was sitting at a table with enough food and family. And the disappointments? We can’t know happiness unless we also know sadness. I can’t feel success unless I feel failure. So compared to last year, I was satisfied and happy, despite setbacks and despite the fact that I have a lot of work to do.

Often when we experience success, we don’t allow ourselves to feel it. It might jinx it. Stop. Please. Feel that success. Babies laugh out loud without fear of being smacked down for not having enough experience with joy to express it. They get praised for smiling.

Experience that joy, that growth. It doesn’t come without struggle and a price, but when it arrives, let it blossom and cheer you. It will make the next step easier and it will be great to recognize it again.

Here are some tips to help you remember:

–When you reach a goal or experience success, what does your joy feel like?

–Where in your body do you experience it–do you feel light-headed? Do you feel energized? Do you feel like dancing?

–What do you do to remember your successes–throw a party? Confide in a friend? Treat yourself?

–What were your last three successes? How about your last three failures? If you can rattle off the failures but can’t remember the successes, you have some work to do. You’ve had successes, but you haven’t celebrated. It’s your success, it’s your victory. Don’t shortchange yourself.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer, artist, and creativity coach. See her work at QuinnCreative.com