Meet Three Monsters in Your Closet
They’re probably still there.
You knew they were in there when you were little.
No matter how many times an exasperated elder responded to your cries and switched on the overhead light to show you the innocent clothes and toys in your closet, you knew that the bad things were only hiding.
They would return the minute the door closed, the light went out, and you were alone again.
Eventually, you outgrew childish terrors. Or did you? Perhaps they simply transformed. Became quieter, more subtle, but no less powerful.
Fear has a genius for pretending it’s something else.
It masquerades, appearing as anger or judgment or withering sarcasm. Some of its disguises are ugly and overt but not all that convincing. Others are more difficult to see through.
One of the most opaque is the fear of success. It can camouflage itself so effectively that you can’t see it at all, not for a long time. Not for years, maybe. Even decades.
The fear of failure — the paralysis that keeps one from even starting on a path — is more familiar. But the fear of success can dress up in guises that seem so innocuous, so removed from their source, that they may appear benign.
But they’re still monsters. Hanging out in your psychic closet, waiting until you’re vulnerable. You’re big and strong now, so time to meet three of the sneakiest:
1. The Who-Cares Monster
This one operates by sapping your enthusiasm for whatever project, dream, or ambition it suspects might absorb your attention. It leans against the wall, its expression noncommittal as it observes your building excitement, and just before your energy crests to the point of action, it pipes up.
“I just wonder,” it says, “what’s the point? I mean, in the grand scheme of things, what difference will (whatever you’re dreaming about) make? Do you really want to spend all your time on that?”
Give Who Cares a chance, and it will keep murmuring similar remarks until it has you convinced that whatever you had in mind can’t possibly be worth the trouble.
2. The You’re-Too-Cool-For-This Monster
A close relative and partner of Who Cares, YTCFT’s mission is the same as its cousin: to drain your creative energy before it builds momentum.
This evil hipster rarely says anything at all, merely sneering or giving a sardonic little chuckle or perhaps a roll of its eyes at just the right moment, recruiting you into mocking your own momentary lapse of cynicism.
3. The Who-Do-You-Think-You-Are Monster
Far nastier than the previous two, this one comes in many guises. It can show up as Think Of Others First (who are you to invest in your own selfish dreams or explore your potential when there are so many others in Real Need?).
Or there’s But I Have So Much Else To Do (everything is more important than your puny goal).
This demon is not above subverting your spirituality. It will remind you about the rich man, the camel and the eye of the needle and so on — while tutting that it’s shallow to want things for yourself.
Whenever these horrors show up, there is one way to exorcise them.
Turn the light on.
Just like the closet monsters of your earlier days fled the moment the overhead was switched on, the nasties that have you under their spell can’t withstand the glare of your conscious thought.
If you find yourself exhibiting symptoms — endless procrastination, lack of focus, finding reasons to do anything at all rather than take a positive step toward your goal — or you become aware of a low but steady hum of negative self-talk, it’s time to head for your inner light switch.
To flip it on, ask yourself a simple, powerful question:
What if I succeed?
Let your imagination go wild on the plus side for a change. What wondrous things could result if you made your dream come true?
It’s helpful to write down your responses, even if you never read them again. It keeps your imagination from squirming its way back into the familiar dark.
You’re likely to make some surprising discoveries.
Maybe you don’t truly want what it is you thought you wanted. If that’s the case, then you’ve just liberated yourself from wasting energy on a cause that no longer serves you.
The point is, it’s your decision to make. Not the monsters’.
Or, you really do want it, but you haven’t taken a clear look at the steps needed to achieve it. You’ve got a powerful but still vague desire that is just waiting for you to figure out an action plan.
Once you see that, the path before you clears, at least enough for you to make a start. And it keeps clearing as long as you keep moving forward.
Like driving a car at night: you only have to see as far as your headlights reach. Amazing things can and do happen when you’re in the driver’s seat.
Now, you’re really going somewhere.