Fear of Success is NOT the Same as Fear of Failure…But Fear is Still the Point
DAY 2 (FAILURE AND FEAR OF SUCCESS):
You might be thinking that a disappointing weigh-in led to giving up on sugar detox, but my problem is the opposite.
A few years ago my weight was 262 pounds. I added cardio and changed nothing else about my lifestyle, eating or fitness.
In about two and a half years I dropped 15 pounds from just doing cardio “when I felt like it.”
Six months ago I began weight training. I weighed 248 pounds before I started my first weight training session. As you know, muscle ADDS weight, so I’ve been repeatedly told by trainers not to expect a lot of weight loss while building muscle. Overall I’m still becoming more fit and clothes are fitting me better, but I knew not to expect much.
My routine is 6 days a week of cardio, 3 days a week of weight training with a trainer. And I don’t mean little five pound resistance weights, but actually breaking and building muscle as much as my body can handle it.
I didn’t expect much on the weigh-in, but there it was:
I dropped 20 pounds in the last 6 months, while increasing muscle mass.
Oh…shit.“The mind thinks thoughts that we don’t plan. It’s not as if we say ‘At 9:10 I’m going to be filled with self-hatred.'” Sharon Salzberg
I didn’t tell my trainer about my instant switch from elation to fear. I tried not to think about this weight loss, about how close I was getting to that 200 pound benchmark weight. I did my workout with the new trainer, left the gym and immediately went to Starbucks for a salted caramel latte and sandwich, and commenced hating myself for the rest of the week as my inner saboteur kept Abbeying the works with a monkey wrench.
Why do I keep returning to things that are not good for me when I seem to be making progress? And how do I stop before I slide too far backward?
My undergraduate writing professor (now mentor) always told me I had a fear of success. I thought it was just some kind of b.s. way of twisting the phrase “fear of failure” to make it sound more optimistic. She was the one who told Kurt that he must, must promise to someday support me so I can be a writer full time, since writing is not a job that pays well (unless you hit that lottery of bestseller or have a day job). She insisted he repeat the promise to her of supporting me to write full time. I already wrote about that, so if you want more on it, read this post on Thankful: My Husband…
I’ve talked about my fear of success with you in past blogs, sometimes related to my writing, other times related to physical changes. Examining what success would mean and trying to understand my relationship to it have been an undertone of much of the self-analysis that takes place in here.
Yesterday’s post, “Who Fails on Day 2!?!?!?” is about this ongoing issue. Understanding something (about yourself or about others) doesn’t mean instant change, but as long as the dialogue is open and the language starts to evolve, it is, indeed, progress.
I love this online community and our ability to inspire and be inspired by the same topics. I’ve noticed many fellow bloggers working on fear of success and trying to understand themselves through or offer wisdom to others. I think this can be a positive thing, but it’s important (for someone like me) to recognize whether it’s truly fear of success, and not fear of failure. If you approach it without really understanding yourself, you’re still spinning your wheels. (And I am an expert at mud-stuck pedal-to-the-floor wheel spinning, friends!)
So what’s the difference, and frankly, who gives a shit?
Here is how I see the difference between the two (and it doesn’t matter if these aren’t prescription definitions, because what I’m examining is “self” and how I define them influences my choices and influences my ability to move forward). A person who isn’t quite as introspective will rightfully say “Who gives a shit?” and simply progress through life based on sheer will and the momentum that each forward step gives to the next. I admire those people, but I am not them, and my choices are determined by this trickster little mind of mine, who may throw in a bout of self-hatred, doubt and fear at various times throughout the day.
When you fear succeeding, you actually believe you can succeed, but… that doing so means you must sacrifice other things in order to achieve success: maybe you outgrow a person; maybe you stop being liked by certain people; maybe you lose privacy; maybe you think the darkest parts of your personality will surface when you have wealth or fame.
When you fear failing, you don’t think you can succeed, and… you’re pretty sure trying will only reinforce that assumption about yourself; maybe others make fun or remind you of your mistakes; maybe you lose even more self esteem than you already had; maybe you lose what comfortable things or people you had before trying (note that in this case you aren’t afraid of outgrowing them, but that they will no longer find you worthy).
I probably have a tiny mix of both, like many do, because although I believe there are fundamental differences between the two, and those differences are what shape and help me improve, they both come down to a common fear: fear of the unknown.
Again, so what? What’s the point of analyzing myself to death anyway?
If you’re one of those wonderful people who just looks at life and says: I don’t like this. I’m going to change it. Then count yourself lucky. You are the exception. And you were most likely not a f*cked up child.
My husband is one of these wonderful people. He has no need for long, drawn-out introspection. He doesn’t always change, but it’s because he doesn’t see a need. When he decides he wants to change something, he simply does. He puts his mind to the task, gives something up or adds something in, and moves on about his life without another consideration about it. It’s not my place to decide if the reason he is this way is because he had a two-parent no fuss, no muss childhood, free of death, divorce or any serious trauma.
But of course you know I’m going to speculate the heck out of it. 😉
How does knowing and understanding all of this change me? By helping me recognize what’s failing, address it, embrace it (the way Kurt physically embraces me to diffuse my abuse-pattern anger) and take one more small step forward.
Being told you have a fear of success is different than really coming to understand, recognize and believe it yourself. And knowing you have a fear of success is not the same as overcoming it. But it’s a start.
So what, specifically, does this all have to do with failing the 21 Day Sugar Detox on Day 2? Well, I’ve run out of space and my fingers are cramping, so I’ll save that for tomorrow…
P.S. Here are a few of my favorites related to change, introspection and fear:
P.P.S. The cardio and weight portion of my changes are still wonderful. Yesterday my new trainer tricked me into bench pressing 80 pounds (a new record for me). I only got it up on my own for 3 reps and then he helped me go-go-go-go-go-go- until muscle failure. I’m so wonderfully sore today and it makes me so happy! I love the feeling of muscle breakdown and buildup. It’s a new kind of high I had no idea existed. Makes me wish I were a guy. If I were a guy in this new obsession, I’d be Ahhnold! Ya!! Or no, I’d probably be more like Hans and Franz… “We gonna pump…you up!”