The Fear of Success

This is an idea that gained traction in the so-called New Age movement: people weren’t succeeding in life because, secretly, they were afraid of succeeding.
The idea was hailed as a major breakthrough in understanding human psychology.
Pundits presented the insight with a aura of smarmy, smug, self-satisfaction: “Of course, I’m beyond the fear, but many of you little people aren’t.”

However, the idea itself has meaning.
For example, success carries with it the implication of BECOMING KNOWN.
For some people, this is verboten. “No, I don’t want others to know who I am. I would rather be a spectator and watch people step out of the shadows and ‘go public.’ Let them absorb the consequences.”

Spectatorship is, of course, one of the enduring trends of the modern era.
Learning something useful, which a person then applies to his own life, takes a back seat to being entertained and stimulated.
The fear of success also embodies the risk of failure.
“Suppose, with full commitment, I pursue my vision of what I want to create in the world—and it doesn’t work out?
Suppose people don’t want to accept what I create?”
This reservation is nothing new.
The man who invented the wheel probably considered it.
But it didn’t stop him.
Today, he might be diagnosed with Oppositional Defiance Disorder.

People are adroit at inventing all sorts of ways in which their nascent enterprise might crash and burn.
They’re experts in that arena.
They can generate 50 different varieties of fear around the possibility of success.
“I choose to be a watcher. Entertain me. I’ll find all the adrenaline I can there.”

In the new culture of victimhood, the fear of success is transformed into: no one has a right to succeed.
By doing so, he must be cheating and lying and deceiving the rest of us.
“Success” is a dirty word.
We are all equal, and equally disabled.
We all have mental disorders.
It takes courage to admit having a brain malfunction that needs treatment.

Psychiatry and Big Pharma have taken this notion and promoted it to the skies.
There are now 300 officially certified mental disorders, and every one of them requires dosing with drugs.

Take a look at government, at legislators and the armies of bureaucrats sitting in their offices.
How many of them ever started their own businesses?
What attitude would you expect them to have toward individuals who have, who have made a success of it?

The fear of success embodies the idea that a person doesn’t have power.
Once THAT pernicious notion has taken hold, the game is over.
“Of course I’d like to launch my own enterprise, but I don’t have what it takes to do that. I don’t have the spark I need. There is nothing I can tap into. Maybe I have a genetic flaw…”

And yet, so far, in many countries, the free market has not been utterly destroyed.
There is still room for the individual to strike out on his own and build an enterprise that reflects his best vision.
Success is still possible, as long as the person doesn’t downgrade it in his own mind.

HOW DO I FEEL is another modern barrier to success.
This unproductive question is brought to the foreground.
“Well, if I don’t feel inspired at the prospect of creating something in the world, if I feel doubtful or afraid or reluctant, I should take these as signs that I’m not ready to ‘go out on my own’.”
Such feelings are a dime a dozen, and their presence actually means NOTHING—unless people have been trained to believe they’re important and crucial.
Yes, trained. As in, indoctrinated.
This is the Age of Psychology, and feelings have become gods.

The therapist asks the patient, “And how do you feel about X?”
A proper answer would be: “I feel you’re making a living by inflating the importance of my emotions to the point where I’m going to become an eternal patient, always and forever judging my own status by looking at random feedback from my own mind…and thereby paralyzing myself.”

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the New Age version of this “feeling quandary.”
It’s: “I’m waiting for the Universe to give me permission to move forward with my plans.”
“The Universe will give me a sign when it’s time.”
“If things didn’t work out, they weren’t meant to be.”
These are truly wonderful rationalizations.
The person invokes a connection WITH THE WHOLE UNIVERSE to explain his inaction.
On the one hand, he can relate intimately to all of space and time, and on the other hand, he can’t get off the couch.

Beyond all the elements of the fear of success—I could offer a whole host of homilies to encourage creative action.
But the decision comes from the individual himself.
It comes from whatever he needs and can put together, in order to make that decision.
The reasons to launch are his own.
They don’t belong to anyone else.
He doesn’t need to consult anyone.
He doesn’t need “collective agreement.”
He doesn’t need consensus. He needs himself.

As Thoreau famously wrote:
“If a man does not keep pace with [fall into line with] his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”

You could call this bravery, you could call this courage, but it is simply self-reliance—once in a different age, heralded as a virtue.
Long before SELF-INDUCED inability was promoted and placed on a pedestal.

Jon Rappoport’s blog can be found at this link.


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