I don’t believe in fear of success. Because I believe that everyone is successful.
No, really. Because success is what will make us happy, right? Well, the reason we’re all successful is that the primitive part of our brains equates ‘happiness’ with feeling safe.
We are programmed for survival. For this reason, feeling safe is most people’s main goal in life.
But what about a street person? How can you call them ‘safe’ ergo successful? They’re not safe–
I would never presume to understand what it’s like to live on the street. I can imagine, though, that the perceived options of a homeless person would have everything to do with feeling safe in their own skin. What is familiar can seem safe, even if that sense of safety is painful or a delusion.
Ergo the expression ‘better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t’
If pain is all you know, it is safe. Because it is familiar. Consciously or not, we also falsely equate familiarity with safety, because it doesn’t involve any risk.
Physical risk is one thing. Those are not the risks I’m talking about.
What keeps most of us from going for our dreams are the emotional risks: shame, disappointment, frustration, anger…
Shame can come from a failed attempt. Disappointment can come from actually achieving something and being underwhelmed when it doesn’t solve a problem. Rage, a form of hell in and of itself, may arise when you risk putting something out into the world only to have someone steal your idea.
A sure-fire way to avoid those feelings is to avoid the work of achieving a dream. If only.
That’s just it: when you avoid risk, all you’re avoiding are feelings, which are inevitable.
This is a mistake.
“Let everything happen to you. Beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.” –Rainer Maria Rilke
So where are you on the spectrum of risk versus comfort?
Have you mistaken safety for happiness?
If so, you’re confusing safety with success.
Success, for me, its completion. To complete something is to finish it. To follow through on your word and your goals, regardless of difficulty. This doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind, but satisfaction only comes when you decide on something and finish it.
Which brings us to decision-making.
When you don’t decide something because you fear making the ‘wrong’ decision, you’ve abdicated responsibility. Abdicating responsibility can feel safe. But its a child’s safety. It is also an illusion: you’re responsible for your indecision because no matter what, there will be an outcome. And if you don’t take a hand in shaping that outcome, you can’t complain about whatever that outcome is.
This, to my mind, is the perfect definition of a decision:
‘A decision is making a choice so that the universe can give you more information.’ -Monica Shah
And here’s another one by the same person:
A decision is not a skill-set. Its an action.
So regardless of the outcome of a decision, you have to decide that its right.
The worst that can happen is that you’ll learn something…or it will lead to something unexpected…or perhaps turn out even better than what you’d originally planned.
So stop making excuses. Start making decisions.