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Fear Of The Almighty Dollar

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It sounds ridiculous, almost to point of abject laughter. Who in the hell is afraid of money? Well,

Obviously I’m not afraid of the physical bills, although paper cuts do sting something awful…No, it’s what money itself represents to me.


Do I want to be successful? Yes. Do I want to be independently wealthy? Yes. Am I willing to do whatever it takes to become what I consider successful? Yes.

So what’s the problem?

I have an overwhelming fear of succeeding and it’s been holding me back for a long time now. Yes, the fear of success is actually a real thing as odd as it sounds. Many people are afraid of failing, but not me. No, I’m OK with failing because I have come to expect it, if not embrace it.

A Scary Word

The word success holds different meanings for different people and in my case it represents being held to a higher standard after achieving something great. It means getting what I want in life and actually being happy. And subconsciously, I don’t feel like I deserve it.

Being successful means I can no longer hide in obscurity, fly under the radar, or be insignificant. And that is a scary thought.

As I’ve said in the past, I have an poor relationship with success, especially it’s physical counterpart, money.

I feel bad about taking money from people even when I know I am providing more than enough value to warrant the cost. I have turned down many opportunities to earn more money and have been a  master of self sabotage when it comes to building any sort of significant income.

And the worst part is that I have done virtually nothing to correct this issue up to this point.

The Fear Of Success Sucks


Believe me, I’m not happy that I feel this way. It sucks to feel like you’re not worthy of greatness (or even goodness) and is something that I have to deal with immediately. If I don’t, I will continue to flounder in a sea of wishy-washy mediocrity and probably will be having this same conversation in 2 years.

That cannot happen.

Here are some of the characteristics of the fear of success:

  • Fear that I will accomplish all that I set out to, but that I still won’t be happy, content or satisfied once I reach my goals.
  • Belief that I am undeserving of all the good things and recognition that come my way as a result of my accomplishments and successes.
  • Opposite of fear of failure, in that fear of failure is the fear of making mistakes and losing approval–Fear of success is the fear of accomplishment and being recognized and honored.
  • Lack of belief in my ability to sustain my progress, and the accomplishments I have achieved in my life.
  • Belief that no matter how much I’m able to achieve or accomplish, it will never be enough to sustain success.
  • Belief that success is an end in itself; yet that end is not enough to sustain my interest and/or commitment.
  • Fear that once I have achieved the goals I have worked so hard for, the motivation to continue will fade or disappear.
  • Fear that I will find no happiness in my accomplishments–that I will be perpetually dissatisfied with life.

All these things are very real for me. I’m not going to blame my parents, childhood, or anything else because I don’t really understand why I feel this way.

I’m intelligent, caring, charismatic, honest, and consider myself a good person. I have all the tools I need to be massively successful and realize my dreams. I’m just scared shitless to actually do  it..

This is how it manifests itself in my life:

  • A lack of effort to achieve the goals I’ve set for myself. From school, my jobs, at home, in relationships, and in my personal growth.
  • Self-destructive behavior, such as tripping myself up to make sure that I don’t sustain a certain level of success or achievement.
  • Problems making decisions. I have been plagued by indecisiveness my whole life.
  • Losing the motivation or the desire to grow, achieve and succeed. I go through stages where I put 100% of my efforts towards reaching my goals and then doing virtually nothing and losing all the momentum/gains I had made.
  • Feeling guilt, confusion and anxiety when I actually do start to achieve success.
  • Sabotaging any gains that I have made with personal growth and mental health, because once I become a high achiever and more “together,” I fear that no one will pay attention to me. I’m habituated to receiving help, sympathy and compassionate support. I didn’t realize this until I read it but it’s so true. Sad,but true.
  • Choosing to do just the opposite of what I need to do to be happy, healthy and successful. Again, this is spot on. I find myself purposely wasting time and doing menial tasks when I have something important or significant to do.
  • Reinforcing my chronic negativity, chronic pessimism and chronic lack of achievement since I’m unable (and unwilling) to visualize myself in a contented, successful life.
  • Denouncing my achievements and accomplishments, or seeking ways in which I can denigrate myself enough to lose what I’ve gained.

When I started writing this post, I honestly had no idea exactly how much this was affecting me. The above mentioned points are facts, not something I just wrote myself. This is a real issue and I am starting to understand the long-term impact it’s had on me.

Why This Is So Relevant Now

The reason I need to address this now is because I am on the eve of one of the biggest undertakings of my life. I am preparing to launch a life changing venture on this blog in just a few short weeks and as the time draws nearer, I am feeling the anxiety of what lies ahead.

I am already shutting down mentally, creatively, and emotionally. I recognized this last night and called my friend Danny to talk some sense back into me.

What if my project is wildly successful? What if it actually does change my life for the better? What if people are impacted significantly by this? What will people expect from me when I am  successful?

Of course I want these things. But deep down, I’m afraid to have them. I don’t feel worthy to have them. It’s absolute bullshit and I know this but it still doesn’t change the fact that it’s how I feel.

So as I am starting to get my project rolling, I’m starting to withdraw from it. At a time I should be pressing full steam ahead, I’m procrastinating. It’s frustrating because I know all of this and yet I am still choosing to allow my feelings of insecurity stop me.

Well, almost stopped me..

I Have No Option

What I can tell you is that regardless of how I feel right now, I honestly feel like I have no option other than to proceed with my project. It’s not about building a blog or an online business. It’s about changing my life permanently. It’s about becoming a better person and a happier person.

I have to make these changes for myself, my family, and my sanity!

So I’m taking all this information and limitation bullshit and doing something about it.

And here’s what I need to do:

  • Figure out where these feeling stemmed from and then identify my underlying beliefs about success.
  • Be crystal  clear on my goals and the steps I have to take to achieve them.
  • Have a strong enough “why” in order to get through my bouts of self doubt.
  • Understand that I will never get out of my current life situation if I continue doing the same things I have always done.
  • Stop worrying about what might happen if I succeed. Too much pressure, being in the spotlight, and drawing positive attention are all things I think about. The funny thing is that nobody really cares all that much. It’s more in my head than anywhere else. Once I get over that fact, it will become easier deal with.

The Next Step

First off, I appreciate everyone’s patience with me here. As many of you have seen, I am battling a number of emotional issues, feelings, and personal hurdles.

All I ask is that you stick with me for a little while longer and come January 2, you will know what I have been up to for the past few months.

I’m super excited about what is coming and can’t wait to share it with you all! And believe me, this is going to be awesome!!

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. To be honest, I have met very few people with the fear of success and am very interested to know just how prevalent this is. Are you dealing with similar issues?

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24 thoughts on “Fear Of The Almighty Dollar”

  1. Hey Steve,

    For one thing, you have put your finger on what your issue is and that’s the first major step. So congratulations my friend.

    I’m really sorry you are having these issues at all. But at least you are aware of them now and can do something about them. I have no doubt that you will get to where you need to be and you have a lot of support along the way.

    I could SO relate to what you were saying. I found myself going through a lot of those same emotions. I hated asking for money and for some reason the thought of success just never seemed possible. I just never looked at myself in that way, ever! Always wanted it, just never thought it was possible so in a lot of ways I held myself back too.

    I did a lot of soul searching and learning more about where those feelings come from and it’s been the best experience of my life. So I have no doubt that you can achieve the same thing.

    Personally, I think you need to put everything on the back burner until you resolve these underlying issues. I think you are putting way too much pressure on yourself and as you mentioned here, are already procrastinating and taking some steps backward. Everything will wait Steve, you are much more important.

    So that’s my advice to you and I’m here for you if you ever need to talk. I know you can do this, I have faith in you. Just take it one step at a time.
    Adrienne recently posted…How To Get More Views On Your YouTube VideosMy Profile

    1. Hi Adrienne,
      I’m starting to feel like a broken record as I keep writing posts about new issues I’m having all the time. The fear of success is actually a huge problem for me and I hadn’t realized it fully until just recently.

      To be honest, I think if I put my blog on hold it will die and I’m not willing to take that chance. The good news is that my upcoming project is going to be great for personal development AND my blog!

      Thanks for being….you :)

  2. You’re going to look back Steve, hopefully in six months’ time, and think, “why the hell did I hold myself back? This success/money thing ROCKS!”

    Jokes aside, success and money are just part of the equation.

    Really, you are pursuing a sense of happiness and contentedness. Truth be told, plenty of people have realized this pursuit without the achievement of success or money.

    For me, when it comes to my professional pursuits, success and money are part of the equation. I can admit that. So are reputation, thought leadership, relationship building with people I respect, impact. Lofty goals.

    I don’t fear those things. My challenge is that I want to find the short cuts. I’m restless and hungry. I feel like my family and my children were my priority for the last decade (no regrets, by the way), and while they are still a top priority – it’s my decade now.

    I cannot wait to see how this project unfolds. And when you hit your stride, and you taste success, we are meeting live to celebrate!
    Ruth – The Freelance Writing Blog recently posted…How to Pick a Freelance Writing Niche Market that Drives BusinessMy Profile

    1. Ruth,
      I hope/think you’re right about this! I’m sure when I get over some of these issues, things will look much different to me. As you know, 2012 is going to be a huge year and changes are coming in spades….

      I’m definitely on a quest for happiness and being content but also feel the need to create a significant income. Where I am in life financially is a far cry off from where I need to be. I’m playing catch up and will never get there by working a job..

      Your decade, huh? That’s awesome :)
      From what I know about you and your life, you deserve 10 years to kick some serious ass!!

      Let’s bring it on in 2012 and it will be great to meet you!!

  3. You’re post reminded me of this poem:

    “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, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson
    Beth Kinder recently posted…Christmas Confession #1: I Didn’t Make It All From ScratchMy Profile

  4. Refreshing post Steve! Everyone has heard people talk about the “fear of success,” but until now I’ve never seen it backed up with real life examples. As a result I was always left wondering, “Is ____ a fear of success? Am I doing this?” Thanks for sharing your struggles so openly!

    I totally feel where you’re coming from. My personal weakness is “fear I won’t be able to sustain greatness.”

    I’m also reminded of Steven Pressfield’s writings about “The Resistance.” As your probably well aware, the closer you get to doing something massive, the stronger The Resistance gets! Always encouraging to me just to know that it’s normal.

    Looking forward to your new project! Keep pushing man!
    Deacon Bradley recently posted…Success For People Who Didn’t Make The Honor RoleMy Profile

    1. Deacon,
      I haven’t heard anyone talk about this fear either. It’s pretty common but yet we don’t hear about it..
      Not being able to sustain greatness is definitely an issue! The pressure to continue what we accomplished is high and I so know where you’re coming from.

      I haven’t read “The Resistance” but that makes so much sense. I am feeling it as January 2nd draws nearer..
      Thanks for following along and showing your support!!

  5. Hey Steve.
    You just keep keeping on my friend. It has been beyond words reading your push and struggle.

    It strikes me that being online this year, since January, that your posts, your sharing this journey and your feelings and reactions, thoughts… that’s what it really is all about.

    That and like your friend, Beth’s comment above, sharing that poem… all that you have struggled with and to do and accomplish, here on line and with your own life and living… you give hope with every word you share.

    We are, I am, with you and pulling for you. I believe in you. I may not always comment and I do know I’ve been a slacker when it comes to tweeting and sharing, but you are on my mind.
    Amber-Lee (@girlygrizzly) recently posted…The Ha-She-Sha-Sha Song for Alaska ChickMy Profile

    1. Hey Amber-Lee,
      Wow, this is a wonderful comment! It means so much that you get where I’m coming from and can (almost) feel my pain. I often wonder if I am reaching people like I intend. I’m learning, struggling, grinding, and growing and 2012 is going to be a HUGE year for me. Wait and see :)
      Thanks so much for your support here.

  6. A tough one to overcome for sure…but you have already provided a lot of value via your blog and podcast, so just stay on it.

    Looking forward to seeing what you come up with and you have my support! Let me know…

    I’ve had a similar problem, but after doing a couple of client jobs where I (sheepishly) charged “full price”, it felt great and showed in the work that I did. That was a big step for me and motivated me to keep going.
    Hugh Kimura recently posted…Monthly Income Report – November 2011My Profile

    1. Hey Hugh,
      Thanks for this, it actually means a lot when someone tells me that they are actually getting value from what I’m doing here. I guess sometimes we just have to do the thing we are uncomfortable with (charging full price) or afraid of. That’s how we grow and get better…

  7. I sometimes wonder if I struggle from the same thing. I find myself procrastinating a lot when I know I should be working. I find myself reading other people’s success stories and wondering if I could ever accomplish something to awesome, and then doubting myself.

    I think it’s amazing that you have built yourself this blog. It’s a testament to your skill that you have 500 subscribers! Through time you will improve your emotional outlook on life and figure out exactly what you will be doing. I look forward to your upcoming launch. :)
    Jonathan recently posted…My Passive Income Retirement StrategyMy Profile

    1. Jonathan,
      From what you’ve said, it sounds like this could be an issue for you as well. There are millions of people in this country who don’t feel good enough or worthy of success and/or happiness. It’s sad because we ARE worthy, we just need to comprehend that!

      It’s funny about the stats because my subscribers are probably the number I am most unhappy about. I’m getting between 16,000-19,000 visitors each month and really feel like I should have more subs. At the end of the day though, it’s just a number. I’ve kind of let go of my attachment to the analytics,although I was all about them for the first 9 months or so!!

      Thanks for your support…

      1. Just a note on subscribers: I read quite a few blogs when time allows, but I only subscribe to around five. Why? Because I don’t need any more inbox distractions than I already have and need to focus on my own work before delving into hours of reading that of others.

        Hear me out. Instead I either “like” blogs on Facebook of follow them on Twitter, as then I can pick and choose my level of involvement and when I choose to get involved. With my OCD, too many emails mean too much time trying to catch up! For me, I need to focus on the task at hand first and supplement when time allows.

        My point is that although it’s very easy to get sucked into numbers–I am not immune–they don’t tell the whole story. You know this ;)
        Abby recently posted…Word Search Vol. 2My Profile

  8. You said: I’m definitely on a quest for happiness and being content but also feel the need to create a significant income.

    This says two things to me: If you’re on a quest for happiness and being content, you’ll never find it. It’s always a choice to be happy and content right here and now, no matter what’s going on around you. You have to be happy with yourself no matter what. If you think, “I’ll be happy when…” then you’ll never be happy. It’s about acceptance.

    The second thing is, you used the word “but” between being happy and creating a significant income – as if they are diametrically opposed to each other. Obviously, with that mindset, the two will never come together for you.

    Combining this post with other info you’ve shared, it’s obvious to me that you have no idea WHO you want to be – you seem to have no vision for your future. Without that vision, you’ll continue to flail around and sabotage yourself. Success isn’t an end goal. It’s who you are. Happy is part of who you are.

    Envision how you want every aspect of your life to be and how you want to feel about everything and yourself. Then ask, “What would that person do every day to maintain that vision?” And do those things.

    Forget all the goals and techniques that you obviously know so well. That’s the surface stuff. Without clarifying who and how you want to be and acting to support that vision, you have nothing to work toward.
    Paige | Simple Mindfulness recently posted…Mindful Body: Creating the Body You Want With New ChoicesMy Profile

    1. Paige,
      This was a hard comment to read. I have always appreciated your honesty here and your willingness to tell me like it is. With that said, this is pretty harsh!

      You’ve picked up some things that obviously I don’t see. When I said I was on a quest to find happiness, I meant that I am pursuing things that will improve my life and in turn, my state of mind. I don’t think of it as “chasing” happiness but feel like I need to make significant changes in my life in order to feel content.

      I’m glad you caught the “but” between happy and income as I totally missed that. Like I mentioned in this post, the fear of success is a problem for me and apparently I do see money in opposition of happiness. I have to work on this relationship or you’re right, it will never come together. This is why I often feel like there is “something” holding me back from creating any kind of significant income.

      As far as who I want to be, I don’t think it’s entirely accurate that I have no idea. I’ll admit there are plenty of things I have difficulty with and my vision is somewhat clouded, but it’s not as bad as you are making it sound. With the big things I have planned for 2012, taking massive action is all part of my plan and while I don’t envision “success” as an end point, I plan to work towards increasing my happiness by making better choices, living a better life, and allowing myself to appreciate what I already have.

      1. Steve,

        Sorry for the harshness. You know I want the best for you. I’m just not sure if you get the message if it doesn’t hit you between the eyes.

        Knowing who you want to be is more important than knowing what you want to do. What you do is driven by who you are and how you actually see yourself. You can create all kinds of goals but, ultimately, you’ll act (or not act) on those goals based on how you see yourself.

        I’ll lay off the comments for a while and watch to see how it unfolds. I’m rootin’ for ya!
        Paige | Simple Mindfulness recently posted…Mindful Body: Creating the Body You Want With New ChoicesMy Profile

        1. Paige,
          I completely understand where you’re coming from and know that you care about me and my situation.
          Answering the question of who we want to be is no small task and I am conflicted in many ways. My plan for 2012 is to start improving my life in as many ways as I can and in the process, become a better (and happier) person.
          And I would actually prefer you didn’t stop commenting as I truly appreciate your feedback…

    1. Very true Tom although many people do not experience the actual fear of success. Most people will come across temporary feelings of inadequacy, self doubt, worry, etc. but that’s normal. The fear of success is deeply ingrained into our subconscious and it’s going to take a significant amount of self self discovery to overcome it. In any case, I know what I’m up against and am not going to let it stop me anymore…

  9. What you talk of is life – your life and no one else. If it were all that simple as Paige says then we would all be happy living a successful life. We’re all different: we have different backgrounds, we’ve had different experiences and have different brain chemistry. What is easy for one to achieve may be a life long journey for another to figure out. Don’t ever compare yourself to others or let them tell you that what you’re doing is wrong to achieve what makes you happy. We all think and approach things differently and take our own path. Sometimes it’s the long way. Sometimes we need to go through the mud to get to the field of flowers. I give credit for putting one foot in front of the other – keep trucking my friend!! Best of luck!
    Marciante recently posted…Time …never enoughMy Profile

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