An article on why we let go off success at the crucial moment and fear gets the better of us.
Sometimes it’s scary when dreams come true. At some level, we are all afraid of change.
Success can indeed turn you into a coward, it seems. And fulfilled dreams can be scary. Having tasted the ‘bitch goddess success’ as American psychologist William James called it and knowing deep down that it is ephemeral, can be a recipe for disaster. The more you enjoy the trapping of success, the more you fear losing what you have and this is what creates the fear. Experience tells us that we can neither hang onto happiness nor grief, fortune nor misfortune, neither success nor failure. One follows the other and there’s nothing we can do to hold onto either, no matter how many rings we wear or threads we tie around our wrists. And so, we argue, why strive for something you are bound to lose? In fact some of us have such a deep unconscious fear of doing well that we work our way up the ladder and then deny ourselves the pleasure of the last step into success. People have a tendency to fall apart at the critical stage when the fulfilment of a dream seems within reach. Things start going wrong suddenly, they either cannot perform as well as earlier or start having personality-based issues or getting nervous or careless at inopportune moments, thus fulfilling their self-destructive prophecies. One may dismiss this as misfortune or bad luck, but experts tend to look at such incidents as self-destructive behavior emanating from a deep-rooted fear of success. Elisa Karloff, a Philadelphia therapist says that, when people are at the brink of success ‘all our neuroses pop right up to the surface. On some level, success fearing people are running from change, especially from having to change their secret self-image as an unsuccessful or undeserving person. Each of us knows some gifted losers, people who have everything going for them and are talented but just seem to lose it when it comes to achieving greater heights. Players who always play well except when it matters most, executives with the best strategies who seem to scatter when they reach the top. Freud spoke of the ‘surprising and even bewildering tendency of some people to fall apart precisely when a deeply rooted and long-cherished wish has come to fulfillment as though they were not able to tolerate happiness. Some fear that if their dreams are met there may be nothing to look forward to. And then if their success cannot make them happy why would life be of worth anymore? Shah Rukh Khan says in a recent interview to Cine Blitz, ‘When most of your dreams are realized, what comes after that? When you have everything, the things that come with it are persecution, complex, paranoia, loneliness and sometimes complete self-absorption, it is my work that sustains me; it’s the only place where I give vent to all my feelings. This is my only area off outlet and spirituality. It keeps me sane. So there is perhaps more fun in working your way towards success rather than in the goal itself. People fear that success may cost them their relationships, their peace of mind or even the right to dream further, it may make them the target of envy, hatred and vengeance. That may or may not happen . But nobody who is afraid of achieving their dreams is likely to dream big, nobody afraid of success will set their goals high. And so sadly all such people are likely to achieve much less in life than they are capable of. And so you give a chance to those who are less capable to step across you and make it big.