Scared of Success? Me, too, a little.

The other day I opened my inbox, and my eyes focused in on one subject line: Are you Scared of Success?

As I swallowed the growing lump in my throat, a little voice inside me said “yes …?” I opened the email to read more.

“Success is exciting ... but it also brings a lot of fear. You might start feeling overwhelmed and questioning whether you really deserve your success, or whether you can handle it.”

The words of best selling author, speaker and Spirit Junkie Gabrielle Bernstein melted the tension in my shoulders, my brows unfurled. There it was: validation of the confusing mix of feelings that have kept me moving at the agonizing pace of two steps toward my dreams and then two weeks totally stalled out, busying myself with the mundane until I finally realize that I’m the only person holding me back from living my dreams.

The only way to halt this this start-and-stall-out cadence? Identify its source: Fear.

Why small and same-same seem so suitable

We’re born with talents, passions and visions of our future. But society’s blend of fear and shame convinced us to fall into place. Instead of following the whims of our heart, we strive to do well at all the subjects, to be well-rounded. We heed the advice of parents and teachers to make practical, predictable decisions, and we make more space for others while we cram ourselves into little boxes with tidy labels like “manager” or “mother.”

But we are so much more textured and nuanced than that. We are full of colors and a feeling tones – our special mix of innate talents and our unique life experiencing shaping the great gifts only we can bring to the world.

So what’s holding us back from actually spending a season as a ski instructor, or investing in our heart’s calling as a human rights lawyer or a chaplain? As Marianne Williamson so beautifully noted:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?

You’re made of stardust, you’re meant to shine!

You and me, we’re made of the same matter as the most magnificent flowers, the grandest mountains, the brightest stars. We’re pretty damn awesome. And whether we become a mail carrier or a musician, that fact doesn’t change.

Most certainly, life carries us through cycles of great expansion and retraction. So, what felt authentically “me” as a kid might not be exactly the same now. However, it’s highly likely that what you were drawn to as a kid holds wisdom into what lights you up even today. And the world needs you fired up. Shining bright in your own weird and wild way. Because when you share your true self, it gives others permission to do the same.  And our weird, wild selves will make the world much brighter, more interesting and way more inclusive for all.

So, whether or not you make a big career move or shake up your home life completely, you owe it to me, to your loved ones – to the entire Universe – to make space for your passions and your dreams. Mindfulness and meditation can help. Here’s how ...

Mindful Moment

Grab your journal. Take a deep breath and imagine your heart opening up like a flower or a treasure box, or maybe you envision it growing in size, a la The Grinch. Exhale. Now write:

What if it all worked out? What if you didn’t have to worry about money or anyone else’s needs and you could just follow your dreams? What would you do?

Describe it in detail: exactly how your life would look, smell and feel. What colors and landscapes come to mind? Write it all out. Make a vision board. Revisit those words and images regularly. Make space in your heart and mind for the life you’ve dreamed for yourself. Then watch what happens. What invitations pop up, what sparks of inspiration light you up, what space is created to do more of the thing that makes you shine.

And when you hit those moments, where things start to go the way you’ve always hoped and the small yet influential criticizing voice inside of you says “Back away! Do not trust this success. Something is bound to go wrong! Hurry back to bored and checked out, because bored and checked out is way safer!” here’s a mantra to get you through:

Affirmation for March

I am worthy. I am worthy of my dreams. I am worthy of love. I am worthy of success. I am worthy.

Say it internally with your breath. Yell it out in your car. Look yourself in the yes at your bathroom mirror and say, I am worthy.

Spring for your Dreams

Learn more tools on how to get clear on your goals and desires – and how to actually make them happen! Join me for Taproot Retreats’ first workshop of 2019: Spring for your Dreams on March 16.

And keep an eye out on next week’s blog, where I’ll outline the key components we’ll explore in-depth during this half-day retreat at the beautiful Eco Institute in Chapel Hill.



Lindsay Michel