Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Fear of Failure

One of my favorite quotes about failure comes from Marianne Williamson:

“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, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are 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.”

I grew up with a mother who seemed to be jealous of me. As a very small child I was quite precocious and loved being the center of attention. Whether it was singing, dancing, drawing, writing stories, roller skating, I was filled with joy and wanted to share it. All of that got shut down when a stranger molested me at seven and the discord between my parents, as well as their inadequate parenting skills, altered the trajectory of my life.

After that, I lived in the dark, afraid of my own feelings, afraid to go outside and play, afraid to open up to others, afraid to live. Like a chameleon, I shaped my opinions and actions according to who I was with, becoming the person I thought others wanted me to be. Completely out of touch with who I really was, my life was empty, devoid of passion and light. I wasn't aware of a fear of failing. And it wasn't until I began a spiritual journey in 1978 and started reading self-help books, that I had an inkling about my issues and started to heal.

It wasn't fear of failure that kept me from doing what I wanted to do.It was fear of success. How I work around that fear is letting my light shine. I had to learn to give myself permission to be successful. Sometimes it comes in the strangest ways. I was playing a game with two 10-year-olds and an eight-year old. I won. My immediate response was, "I'm sorry." All three girls looked at me like I was an alien and said, "What are you apologizing for?" I told them my mother had said it wasn't nice to win - it would make others feel bad. Now I know winning is okay. Gloating is not.

Allowing our light to shine is a gift, not only to ourselves, but to others as well. These days, my life is filled with activities that made my light shine as a child. I folkdance once a week, sing every day, write as often as possible, and laugh and giggle with friends. My prayer every morning is to be allowed to stand in God's light and for my awareness and sharing of that experience to keep expanding.

My mother meant well. I know it was not her intention to hurt me or to suppress my talents or gifts. But that is what happened. To blame her is a waste of time and energy. Failure isn't possible when you are living your life doing the best you can in any given moment. It can only happen if we don't even try.



Marvin D Wilson said...

This is a HUGE and valuable life lesson to learn. Failure can result from fear of success just as much as from fear of failure. The key is fear itself. Any kind of fear is what is to be faced and gotten rid of. Good post on this subject, Karen!

The Old Silly

Galen Kindley--Author said...

Fear can be healthy…avoid those rattlesnakes in the backyard, for instance. But, mostly it’s not so good. I try to take fears and educate myself about the issue, then make rational choices based on knowledge, reasoning, and logic. I for sure try to keep fear of whatever out of my psychology. Just not productive.

Best Regards, Galen
Imagineering Fiction Blog

Patricia Stoltey said...

Kids should never have to cope with these kinds of fears, yet so many do. As a mom, it hurts my heart to even think about it.

Helen Ginger said...

I'm finding as I get older, I'm surrounding myself with women friends who are supportive and fun to be around. I have a group of writer friends that I really treasure.

Straight From Hel

Anonymous said...

I used to use fear as a motivator. Not that I actively sought fear out. But if it reared its ugly head, I would try to use it to my advantage. You know, make lemons out of lemonade.

No more. Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. I now use good ol’ fashioned love as a motivator. Works much better.

Stephen Tremp

The Practical Preserver said...

I've spent a lifetime trying to overcome this fear and that fear. It's an ongoing struggle.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I think the better quote is your own, Karen - "Failure isn't possible when you are living your life doing the best you can in any given moment. It can only happen if we don't even try." How true that is!

Tabitha Bird said...

that quote is one of my all time favorites. As a victim of abuse I too struggle to give myself permission to be who I am and shine. I still doubt my abilities as a writer. i still doubt that I have something worthy to share. But I am pressing on. I can't settle until I reach to place of empowering myself. thanks for this post.

ComfortWriter said...

I've experienced living on both sides of that fence; fear of failure turned into fear of success. Thank you for this post and thank you Tabitha, again, for leading me hear. I needed to read this tonight.