Fear of Success

75 QUESTION: I would like to ask a question about fear of success.

ANSWER: Any such question can only be answered very generally. Anyone with a problem like that would have to work it out in his or her personal work because there are many variations, many possible factors.

Broadly speaking, fear of success indicates a fear of not being adequate to the success. You all know that the child in you wants something handed to it on a silver platter, without the necessary responsibility, work, decision and cost. When mature, you accept all these conditions, but if the child in you does not, then fear of success may be the result. Therefore, an additional fear is created. It is the fear of losing any possible success that may be gained.

The deeper knowledge of your soul transmits to you that you can only rightfully keep what you earn with a mature attitude. If this mature attitude is lacking in any way, deep down you know that success will be fleeting. Therefore you try to avoid the shame and exposure, the failure and grief, by sabotaging the success at the outset with your fear.

So what creates fear of success usually is: (1) feelings of inadequacy; (2) lack of self-responsibility, even if only on a subtle inner level; (3) guilt: the feeling of “I do not really deserve it.” This too is connected with what I discussed here. If one is unwilling to assume mature responsibility, then one naturally feels guilty for desiring the goal. If a person accepts full adult self-responsibility, is willing to pay the price for anything, and is capable of making a mature decision, there will be no such guilt.

Whenever such a problem exists, one is bound to find the elements discussed here. You may find them in particular personal variations, but basically the aspects covered here are bound to be present in some form if one goes deep enough.

On a yet deeper spiritual level, however, another element enters. This is very closely connected with the psychological causes I just discussed and with tonight’s subject.

You may remember that in a previous talk I explained the fear of happiness that exists to some degree in every human being. Fear of happiness is closely connected with the new state I discussed tonight, the state in which you are a part of a whole, instead of an end in yourself. The blind and ignorant human ego is struggling against the unknown new state of pure happiness. Any real happiness must in some way be connected with the new state of being which will be yours after the transition.

Any success that is more than just superficial, that is not experienced in the spirit of being a part of the whole and sharing the common aim of bringing the entire universe to unity will be shallow, unsatisfactory and temporary. It will not be rewarding and is bound to be frightening in some way. True satisfaction and safety, which should be the byproduct of real success, is incompatible with the separate state, even when this separate state is not clearly recognized as the subtle and unconscious factor it is. The incompatibility creates the fear of success.

 

QA151 QUESTION: I have had a strange situation where I feel that as long as I do not have money, I’m in a state of struggle where I feel alive. But were I to have money and security, I would feel that death must not be far away. That is, success means the end of life, so to speak. Every time I go upon an enterprise, some project which might give me success, the success becomes a fantasy rather than a reality and the whole project becomes destructive. It’s a waste of money and time, and the work gathers dust on some shelf. I’m again trying toward such a venture and I need help with this.

ANSWER: This is a very deep, very frequent and I might almost say universal problem in man – the fear of accomplishment, the fear of success. I talked about this topic in various connections and from various approaches in the past. The approach I want to use tonight will be the following.

I want to shed light on this problem from two sides. The one side is that having reached the goal, the accomplishment, the success already realized, seems like the end, and there is nothing to follow – and therefore it is equated with death.

So the strange predicament exists, “If I get what I want and if I have all my wishes fulfilled and it is all there, and there is nothing further to strive for, it is the end of life itself; it is death.” So that living is equated with striving, and accomplishment or gratification is equated with the end – death.

The other aspect I want to touch upon here is that success in whatever area, be it careers, accomplishments, having money or whatever it may be, is merely a symbolic substitute for the total state of pleasure supreme – for the ecstasy of the state of being that man fears so much and on account of which he hinders this.

He draws all his fluids together into an ego heaviness and refuses to let go. He believes the tight ego state to be safe while a letting-go state, the state of being – although it is the highest pleasure – seems like decomposition. It seems like annihilation. It is exactly the same.

Fear of money is nothing else but a lesser manifestation or symbolization of the fear of pleasure in every respect, the fear of letting go.

Of course, this is a total error, for the state of being is not lifeless. On the contrary, it is movement, it is aliveness, it is joy, and it is utter, utter safety – provided it happens in an organic way that integrates with the ego, and not in an unnatural, inorganic way that runs away from the ego.

For in that latter way, it can indeed be annihilation, for it leaves an integral part of the personality out of it, rather than incorporating it. This is the reason. When you discover and notice these little emotional reactions, subtly as they exist deep down, bring them out into the open, and question yourself.

Do you fear that total success will mean there is nothing further to come? Isn’t it also a symbol of your greater fear of letting go of ego control? When you can ascertain this, you will then have the points which you particularly can work on. I want to show you a practical point here of how you can overcome the fear of letting go, and therefore the fear of total happiness and fulfillment at the state of being.

This fear of letting go of the ego is always, exactly, dependent on and related to a refusal to assume self-responsibility and strength. In other words, just because there are areas in which you want to let go in the wrong way, must you be afraid of letting go in the right way?

Only as you learn self-discipline and a sense of deep responsibility that does not come out of a “must,” but out of an “I want to,” then you will no longer fear the letting go where it is a burden, and where it obstructs you from the total experience of living. When you can draw together these two points and see their interconnection, you will have a direct key with which to work on.

You will no longer fear success or pleasure in any form – in any life manifestation – to exactly the extent you voluntarily assume self-responsibility. For the success and the pleasure and every type of fruitful living can only come from the involuntary processes as I have explained so often in my previous lectures.

However, the courage to let the involuntary processes take over can only come when the voluntary processes have been mastered and when no self-indulgence exists on the voluntary processes.

Where the personality wants to be an irresponsible child, wants to be taken care of, wants to indulge, wants to be dependent, and also refuses accountability for its life and the consequences of its actions, and at the same time shirks the blame for its own misfortune – to that extent fear of pleasure in all forms must exist.

See this correlation and you will understand how you shortchange yourself, all of you, everyone. One more, one less, one more in this respect and perhaps one more in another respect.

But with this you have a key for the healthy self-responsibility that is not a must in order to appease and obey for the very sake secretly to gain the being taken care of. This is usually the wrong motivation. So that, therefore, a resistance and a rebellion exists to take voluntary self-responsibility and a resentment, “Why do I have to do this?” No free action is mastered there.

No free action exists on it, and to that very extent fear of pleasure must equally exist. And therefore, life is drab and numb, and you yourself become numb, and everything becomes hopeless and boring and depressing.

To that extent the resentment grows and the half-conscious personality ascribes this dull life to the parental substitutions in life that refuse to give you what you want, never seeing that you yourself shortchange yourself.

See this connection and realize that the totally free voluntary assumption of self-responsibility liberates you to be capable to experience pleasure – to not endure it as one endures pain, but to be open and capable to totally live in it and be moved by it.

Then when the voluntary processes are free, relaxed, and strong, the involuntary processes that produce the pleasure will not be feared and battled against. Is that clear?

QUESTION: It’s clear, I see that the questions of responsibility is where my problem comes in. I find that if I don’t make a move, I’m responsible, and, of course, it involves being attached to the umbilical cord. I haven’t yet learned to let go of the umbilical cord and still be self-responsible.

ANSWER: Right. You see, this is it. If you would let go, it indeed would be a danger as long as you are tied to the umbilical cord, as long as you are not a free and strong person. That is why almost an invisible mechanism creates the resistance to let go, although it is in itself an unfortunate and unnecessary prohibition of pleasure, it is a safety valve as long as the personality refuses to stand on its own feet.

Therefore, self-responsibility and the ability to experience pleasure are directly connected. It is a total misunderstanding of the conscious and/or unconscious personality that equates lack of self-responsibility – the childish state of being taken care of – with pleasure. It cannot exist in an adult. On the contrary. It is mutually exclusive.

When this connection is better understood, you will all have a much easier time. You will have the key you need, for the pleasureless drab life is something you don’t have to have, but it is merely a result of what I explained here.

 

QA159 QUESTION: I have a question for a friend about a professional difficulty. This person is always able to get contracts and he fulfills them very properly, but many times the contract was not renewed. It is always for apparently outward reasons that seem to have nothing to do with him and that are very easy to rationalize. Can you help with this?

ANSWER: Well, I would like to give an answer on two different levels – a deep inner level and a more superficial level. The deep inner level is a fear in him of an unfoldment of a success. It is basically the fear of pleasurable fulfillment, which is very deep rooted. Of course, it exists in everyone, but it is rather strong in this person.

The root of it is on a much more personal basis, on a much more immediate basis, physical even. But it manifests in various other ways of life. He may not be aware of this yet – in fact I would say it would be quite surprising if he would be aware of it, because the consciousness is aware just of the opposite.

But in this work, he can find clues that shed the light on this vague and subtle feeling where he holds back, where he is almost frightened of a release and a relief in all its ramifications. And there is, of course, a contrary movement within that wants the fulfillment.

So that movement within him that wants the fulfillment brings the initial results. But that other movement that cannot maintain the good – or fears the maintenance or sustenance of the good – interrupts it. I venture to say, if he watched himself very closely, he will find a similar pattern in many other ways.

Now, on a more outer and superficial level, this inner core brings a certain mannerism in him that can, in spite of many good facets, alienate or make other people feel in some ways uncomfortable. If he begins to observe the effect he has in some ways – perhaps from a certain heaviness or certain mannerisms – that makes people feel a little less comfortable with him than they might in certain circumstances and under certain conditions of relationship.

Now, of course, the latter is caused by the former. It is the fear of positivity that creates a negativity. The negativity is responsible for certain mannerisms in this person that others may use, but they are so subtle that they cannot use it overtly, but then reasons come about.

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