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How to Dump Your Guilt and the Fear of Success

Guilt used to be a familiar character in my life.

Just when things seemed to be going my way—weight loss, a big promotion, awards and recognition—guilt would slide up beside me, rest its heavy arms on my shoulders, and whisper in my ear…

“You don’t think you’re better than everyone else, do you?”

I can still remember that sinking feeling. No, of course I didn’t think that! I wasn’t better than my family members who couldn’t lose weight or my coworkers who were passed over for promotions again.

And later when I became a life coach, I felt guilty when I got more attention than some of my coaching friends.

What if they thought I was purposefully trying to outshine them? Did they think I wanted to make them look bad?

If I win, does that mean they lose? I was afraid of being successful.

I wasted plenty of time letting guilt get the best of me. Finally, I learned how to stop this trickster from sabotaging my life, and you can too.

Here are 3 truths to help you dump your guilt and the fear of success.

Staying Small Hurts Everyone

When you work towards a goal and do something incredibly big for yourself, you might feel guilty about outshining other people. You don’t want to hurt your loved one’s feelings so you’ll be tempted to play small next time. The fear of success makes you want to hide.

Fight this urge! Downplaying your accomplishments hurts the very people you’re trying to protect.

You’re here for a reason, and it’s not to be lazy and apathetic. By achieving your life’s goals, you’ll be lifting up those around you.

Let’s say you want to go back to school, but you feel guilty about spending time away from your family. However, by earning an advanced degree, you’ll be better able to support them, and your children will learn that their mother cares about education.

That’s a win-win situation.

Not Everyone Wants Your Dream

If you feel guilty for going after your dream when other people don’t take that route, remember that they have their own lives to live. They have their own passions and dreams to pursue; ones that are special to them.

You achieving your goal has nothing to do with the direction of their lives.

If you score a promotion at work that thrusts you into a manager role, go ahead and feel good about it! Many people don’t want to move up the corporate ladder and are happy right where they are.

Some of my favorite former jobs were very low-level, but I thoroughly enjoyed what I was doing.

We all have unique dreams.

Your Future Self is Counting on You to Succeed

If you let guilt and the fear of success sabotage your efforts to live the life you’ve always imagined, you’ll be disappointing the only person who truly matters…yourself.

Think about your ideal future. What does your life look like in 5 years? In 10 years?

What do you want to be doing? Where are you going? Who are the people you invite into your life? What makes you happy in this vision?

Now, imagine your future self standing in front of you. You can see how joyful and content she is. Do you have the heart to tell her that she can’t have those things anymore?

Will you be the one to crush her spirit?

Your future self is counting on you! Let go of your guilt and pursue all your wildest dreams as if your life depends on it….because really, it does.

Have you ever let guilt hold you back?

In the comments below, share your tips for managing guilt and overcoming the fear of success.

This post focuses on Step 2 of the Life Editing Process, Delete Bad Influences. For more about life editing and what it can do for you, click here.

2 Comments

  1. Sarah @ Long Island Nerd on April 23, 2014 at 5:48 am

    Thank you so much for writing this post! I am so “guilty” (ha!) of this! I feel guilty about EVERYTHING and I know that I definitely hold myself back. It has been a struggle of mine for a long time to let go of feeling guilt and being afraid of disappointing everyone but I know in the end I need to do what is best for me and my happiness!



    • Sage Grayson on April 23, 2014 at 11:04 am

      You’re so welcome, Sarah! And thank you for commenting all the time. 🙂 I think most women feel guilty about being in the spotlight and following their dreams. I don’t know any men who feel guilty about being ambitious.