Today’s AWAP Wednesday video answers a question that I hear over and over and over again: What happens if I start to get better? What happens if I succeed, will people expect even more? What happens if I can’t  live up to their expectations? (The question-asker was reading this post on Tiny Buddha which sparked her question.)

In the video, I offer a strategy I’ve used in my own life to cope with fears of success. I think we all face this at some time or another, so I’m excited to share a strategy that really works for me.

Check out the video now:

Now it’s your turn:

How do you face fear about success? Have you had difficult situations or conversations about getting better but not meeting the expectations of others? I’d love it if you shared your story in the comments below this video’s post. We have AWESOME conversations every day at the site and I would LOVE for you to be part of the community! Did you like this video? Please “like” it on YouTube or Facebook and share it with your friends through social media.

Want to watch more videos like this? Check out our AWAP Wednesday video playlist, which has more than five hours of guidance, advice, and bloopers.

Is there a question I can answer for YOU? Add it to the comments below, or shoot me an email.

Until we meet again: Be AWAP! Smooches! *AWAP = As Well As Possible


A (rough) transcript:

A fellow ChronicBabe writes:

I was reading a post on Tiny Buddha and it hit me between the eyes, and is really your message in many ways: ‘You know what I was really terrified of? Deep inside of me, there was the awareness that, even if I fit every symptom in the book, I had no excuse to live half a life. Somewhere in there I knew I wasn’t really broken. I was terrified of what my responsibilities would be if I allowed myself to be, truly, whole.’ So, how do you address the fear of being AWAP? If I start to put myself out there and things start to take off… what if I can’t keep up? I’m truly terrified of that!!! Usually meeting one responsibility well means more will be added… Thanks for all you do and for inspiring me and addressing the tough stuff.

Well first, thank YOU for your gratitude and trust. I do try to hit the tough topics, and this is definitely one of them that I, myself, fear sometimes.

When the question of “what will I do if things go really well?” comes up for me, I try to take a breath. Paradoxically, if I’m fearing success, it usually means I’m getting close to achieving that success — I’ll feel a resistance to striving and doing well and that’s a sure sign that I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing. (For more on this concept, I suggest you check The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.)

A lot of fear comes from unknowns. Like you asked, what if it goes well? What if I’m handed more responsibilities? I have a couple thoughts on this.

Game out what success could look like

Write out the full description of success for you. Spell out all the details, what it might mean for your schedule, for your colleagues, for your relationship—whatever area of your life this is happening in.

Then look for two things, and I want you to make a list for each:

1. What kind of support will you need at every step of the way to achieve success in the most AWAP way?

Do you need someone to pick up the slack of chores because you’re working more? Do you need to guard your energy so you can dedicate it carefully to the task at hand? Do you need more help from your team at work? Do you need more time on the phone with friends to talk things through? Make a list — and then keep it close at hand. As you move toward success, and begin to feel fears, you can remind yourself that you’ve planned for this and that you have support (and then reach out and get that support, girl!).

2. What are the specific fears you have about your potential success?

Are you worried that you’ll be handed more responsibility? Then you can start planning how to have a careful conversation with your supervisor about how much you can handle. Are you worried that if you start working out again daily that you’ll plateau and you don’t know how to move to the next step? Then you can start planning how to talk with a fitness expert or your doctor to figure out how to challenge yourself safely.

What if I succeed? What if I can’t live up to others’ expectations?

And the biggest fear I hear from my fellow ChronicBabes is this: “What if I get somewhat better and people start acting like I’m fully cured and expect too much of me? How can I live more powerfully but not set people up to have exaggerated expectations?”

That, my dears, is a real chestnut — I hear it over and over from you, and I hear it in my own head sometimes.

Here’s the thing: The people who love us and support us want us to be successful. But if they’ve only known us as extremely limited, then yes—when we start doing more, they may get super-excited to see us increasing our abilities. And they may incorrectly assume we are “cured” or “all better.” They mean well; they only want the best for us, and it cheers them to see us succeed, and they might urge us on to do more. It’s up to us as ChronicBabes to set the stage for this.

You may need to gently say to folks, “Thanks for the encouragement… and I keep reminding myself progress is not linear, so I hope you’ll still support me if I backslide a little.” Or you may simply want to say something like, “Your support and love is awesome, and I’m so thankful you believe in me. Trust that I will always do my best, and even this small amount of improvement is a gift.”

We are often the source of our most limiting beliefs.

We might hear discouraging comments from others or read stuff on the Internet that makes success feel impossible or scary. But if we plan out what we want success to look like, build support around that goal, face our fears with facts and plans, and keep expressing gratitude, then we are setting ourselves up for success.