The Fear of Success

The Fear of Success

Why do we fear success? Because it would change things? We might lose control? Because it might alienate our friends? Because we have conflicting messages about money? Or because we might be exposed, seen for what we truly are?

It’s surprising how many core concepts get planted in our minds at an early age. A big emotional upset and the mind makes a story about it. We conclude we’re not loved, not good enough, or will be abandoned. Maybe our parents even said something rash. In fact, those stories often arise again at the first opportunity from unresolved issues in past lives.

When we have a story about a feeling and believe it, we come to associate it with anything similar. We then fear or avoid any circumstance that might remind us of that old story. We feel safe to live lives of “quiet desperation.” A brief idea in childhood and we find it driving our aversions in relationships, work, and family life. We seek distractions, fudge bravado, or numb ourselves. In the process, we fall out of touch with our feelings and thus the means to enduring happiness.

Adyashanti mentions how we might feel like we’re pretending in some vague way, not realizing most of us feel that. Not knowing who we really are, the ego knows it’s faking it and we feel deficient.

The fix is coming back to feeling. Allowing whatever is there to be felt. At first, this can seem like jumping into a snake pit. We’ve come to fear even fear. But if we can find a way to be OK with what is, as it is, then we can let go of the story, the experience can resolve and the load lift. This doesn’t mean wade into the mud. We don’t have to relive the junk. It just means finding it OK. Not believing the story and letting go of the baggage.

In his new book “Falling into Grace“, Adyashanti speaks to this in the 5th Chapter.
“When we argue with life, we lose every single time – and suffering wins.”
“…anytime we contract from direct experience and spin a story, we have gone unconscious…whatever emotion that happened at that time will be locked into our system”
“You may have experienced some very real suffering, but when we add on top of that what we believe should or shouldn’t be, the mental position literally locks the painful emotion into our system.”

But if we’re willing to question our need to believe in the story, we can let the thought go. Once you let the thought go, the emotion ends as well. We may not forget the hurt, but we’re no longer saddled with the baggage. It becomes non-reactive.

It sounds much like Byron Katie and The Work. Questioning if the story is true. And The Fifth Agreement: “Don’t believe yourself, and don’t believe anyone else.” But it’s always interesting to hear another take. My own progress was greatly enhanced when I discovered how to allow and release old emotional baggage.

So far, I’m finding the book a lighter, more introductory summary of his teaching. (as the intro suggests) While he continues some of the same points, he also continues to state them uniquely. That’s something that makes him ever fresh. This book includes some biblical quotes, for example.

Looking forward to more of the book.

Last Updated on November 11, 2017 by Davidya

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 1

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.


  1. Ben

    Hi Davidya!

    Love these lines:

    “When we argue with life, we lose every single time – and suffering wins.”

    “…anytime we contract from direct experience and spin a story, we have gone unconscious…whatevrr emotion that happened at that time will be locked into our system”

    This is sooooooo true. And, it has taken me some time to get comfortable with it here.

    Story Time: I am at work on a conference call, and the call keeps going on and on. One guy is interpreting everything said and turning it into a negative statement. The thoughts start flooding in that I want to correct him, point out his flaws, and fix him.

    Seeing this coming up I abandon myself to the emotions, but I don’t act on them. For the rest of the meeting I feel calm and balanced in the midst of these emotions.

    When the call is over, I see that he is mirroring trapped emotions in me 100% He is surfacing them. It is like a cleansing. He is helping hugely to unearth what is trapped.

    I like the word allowing, but it wasn’t strong enough for me. I needed abandonment to “what is” full force as beautiful or ugly as it really is. The whole spectrum and everywhere in between.

    Whether it is right away or 2 days later, I am given the insight from where the belief got formed and the emotion got trapped. I am open and abandoned to it. It is amazing to watch this process real time.

    It used to be a painful process. With abandonment, as soon as the trapped emotions surface awareness peaked. Abandoned, they didn’t hurt near as much.

    When I got tired of trying to control the process and was worn down enough to abandon myself to it. I actually experience joy during these times, and my physical energy shoots through the roof.

    All I ever wanted was to really be what I am.
    All I ever had to do was allow (or abandon) it all to come home to roost.

    What a friggin relief!
    We are this life, this joy!
    No matter what.

    Great Post!

  2. Share L

    Thank you so much for this clear explanation of the role of emotional health in spiritual life.

    AND (-;

    I still think, based on my own experience, that stories are not just mental or emotional. They can have a powerful energetic component. That might necessitate something more than inquiry which is mind based. I’m thinking of work like EFT tapping, for example. Something that supports a person to get into the body with their emotional healing.

    On the other hand, some, like Lester Levenson and Byron Katie did great with mind based inquiry.

    Thank you too for examples from Adya’s latest book. Looks wonderful.

  3. Davidya

    Hi Ben!
    Beautiful – that’s exactly it. We can sit there and react, building our stress. Or we can be just a little bit more conscious and allow what is there to be there as it is. It completely changes the result. Not so easy if the mind wants to control. Sometimes, we’ll find both. Some control, some allowing. That’s fine – whatever we can be right now. In the same way we step back from judging others, we do the same for ourselves. As we can, as we notice.

    (laughs) Abandonment – well put. Surrender was the word that did it for me in that one moment. For some, abandonment may inversely be their greatest fear. It’s a little different for each of us. This is the value of several voices.

    hmmm- yes, sometimes right away. Sometimes more buried, more layers to uncover. Or more resistance to being seen. And yes, it can be difficult to step into the “dark” at first. There can be so much noise. But also fear. As we find it’s OK and begin to clear, it gets easier and easier until it can be almost automatic.

    And then some new scenario comes along. (laughs)

    Wonderful words.
    “All I ever wanted was to really be what I am.
    All I ever had to do was allow (or abandon) it all to come home to roost.”

    Thank you. Always a pleasure.

  4. Davidya

    Hi Share!
    I think we may be talking definitions here.
    Both thoughts and emotions have what might be called layers. We can experience thoughts as loud, quiet, vague, and just impressions or knowing. Similarly, emotions can be strong, mild, more “feeling” and intuitive. I tend to think of thoughts as the structuring aspect and emotions as the energy aspect.

    So when I say emotions, I mean energy also. The drivers.

    The idea here is that ego is mind based, an idea. It is ego that is grasping, trying to control. It is the stories that structure the box or cage. But it is the emotions that drive and maintain them.

    In that context, we can do inquiry on the story we’re telling, resolving it and thus the emotional drivers. Or we can remove the emotional drivers as you suggest and have the thought form collapse. I’ve mentioned EFT here before.

    This relates to the 3 stages of awakening. I’ve written of the core grasping that arises from loosing our sense of wholeness, feeling separate. This drives the energy/feelings of that which in turn drives the concepts and stories of being separate. Awakening typically happens in reverse. We see through the idea of being separate, lose the emotional drivers of that, then come to the core fear and end all sense of separation. Adya refers to head, heart and gut. I called this the 3 “am-egos”.

    (its all really just one thing, released in the layers of our being. We simply experience subjective differences from different sensing. mechanisms)
    (here ego is used 2 ways, as the idea of separation and as the whole way we maintain the sense of separation. I usually use the first these days, referring to the 3 aspects as ego, emotions and identity. But 3 Am-egos amuses)

  5. Share L

    D, thank you so much for explaining with such clarifying detail. Maybe it was the word driver that I wasn’t grokking. A very masculine feeling word whereas I tend to think of emotions as more on the feminine side of life. But I am learning that you guys have deep emotions too. Yay!

    I also really like the 3 am-egos.

  6. Share L

    Apologies that I was late in replying. Am doing a workshop in Dallas and my routine is very challenged.

    I very much appreciate the distinction you made about abandonment in your reply to Ben. I feel more relaxed in my heart when I experience that a man understands this.

  7. Davidya

    Hi Share
    (laughs) yes, definitely a male term. Hadn’t thought of that before. But I experience emotions as the motivator beneath the thoughts or story about a circumstance. people often struggle if the 2 are not in sync. Like thinking one should diet but enjoying food 😉

    Sure – a man can relate to it, especially if it’s been his experience.

  8. Share L

    Gosh, I can really relate to your example. I bet a lot of people can. Would each desire have its own driver?

    I might know it intellectually but it’s wonderful to experience it more fully and feel my heart relax. Thank you so much.

  9. Davidya

    I wouldn’t say it’s that specific. Broadly, we could say we have an underlying driver(s), What one might call purpose or divine will. And we have drivers that arise from our responses to circumstance; pleasure seeking and pain avoidance. These would be based on our perception of past experiences. We can also sometimes feel compelled by the group.

  10. Davidya

    hmm – well, we exist fundamentally due to what might be called divine will. We experience that as purpose, etc. That can be considered one driver.

    We’re also non-separate from others, so another motivator can arise from what might be called “group-think” or social memes or trends. Partly why one places “feels” different than another.

    Both of the above can tend to be sub-conscious, Actually all drivers can sometimes be.

    And finally we have “personal” motivators, as above.

    Of course, these all interrelate. For example, one might consider a family expectation a group thing, but it may become established as a personal one. Or a skill we’re born with becomes familiar as a way to success, so we add the personal to that.

    We may tend to think of ourselves as a body or a mind or a body-mind. But there’s also a perspective that sees us as a doer, a bundle of energetic motivators that cause action.

  11. Share L

    Wow! it sounds like you’re saying that an inborn gift or strength can also become a driver? Fascinating. Do you mean like a child prodigy who’s born with a musical gift and then they have a driver to play music? Like that?

    Inborn gift and divine will seem somehow connected. But maybe I’m still recuperating from travel (-;

  12. Davidya

    Right. Inversely, we’ve all met people with undeveloped talent. It depends on people’s experience and if they come to place value on it. Without a driver, nothing happens.

    An example I heard the other day – you need intention to point the car and motivation to push the gas pedal. Both are needed to go somewhere.

    Yes, our gifts can certainly be granted, but they may also be earned.

  13. Davidya

    I wrote a couple of posts about Values back in August. I touched on this there.

    We could say values are the importance we give certain qualities. I’d suggest they’re part of the structure side through which desires express. The weight we give certain aspects or the way we steer that energy. generally, this would be in a more positive context than the filters that arise from resisting,

    And similarly, they’d be layered. The core values of nature, the values of the group, and the values we hold as an individual.

    Some we’re born with. Some we develop from experience.
    Make sense?

  14. Pingback: Hakuna Matata « In 2 Deep

  15. Share L

    Wow! Wonderful experience of the layers after my evening meditation. They’re permeable! And they dissolve into one another. Which means that the core values of nature are absorbed into the individual ones and the individual ones into nature’s.

  16. Davidya

    Right. They’re not really separate things. Our experience process is kind of like an ice cream cone. We can look and see separate scoops or just see an ice cream cone as a whole. But even in the second case, we enjoy the layers of the experience. 😉

    (It’s also more literally cone-like as unbounded awareness collapses to a point of attention.)

  17. Pingback: Falling Into Grace links « In 2 Deep

  18. Pingback: Specialness « In 2 Deep

  19. Pingback: Spiritual Addiction | In 2 Deep

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest