Trouble finishing? It’s time to clear your fear of success and visibility

Do you struggle with finishing projects?

This is a common refrain from so many of the multi-hyphenates and multi-passionate entrepreneurs in my life, so you are definitely not alone.

There are so many reasons why this can occur, which means the cause and the solution are really unique to you as an individual. 

A couple of weeks ago I broke down the stages of a creative project, what finishing things actually means, and how to start taking consistent action if that is where you are getting stuck. Click here to read that post.

Finishing things can go beyond simply taking action

Sometimes the reason we aren’t working towards our goals is a little more complicated than the general challenges with taking action like prioritizing, breaking things down into achievable steps, and working through resistance as it shows up.

Sometimes we are actually afraid of the success and visibility that will come if we complete our work. So instead of facing that fear (which may be entirely subconscious), we end up avoiding it altogether by not doing our work.

Does the possibility that your inability to finish is related to avoiding success and greater visibility resonate with you?

If this even feels like a potential block, then it’s worth taking the time to explore how this might be impacting your productivity.

What does fear of success and visibility actually look like?

Here’s an example from the performing world: 

You get an audition and are so excited.
You love the project and are so inspired by the material.
You can’t wait to step in that room. 
There are new people to meet and your own unique stamp on the character to share.
You feel prepared and free.
Your audition is on fire. 
You are so proud of your work that you’d be totally happy if nothing else comes of it.

Then, you get a callback.

All of a sudden this weird dread comes in.
There are new sides, new songs, and you start doubting yourself.

What if you aren’t as right for this project as you initially thought?
What if you can’t learn all the material on time?
What if you wreck this opportunity and never get an audition again?

You try to put your biggest fears aside and get to work on the material.
You show up feeling as ready as you can, but still can’t seem to knock all the fear and self-doubt.
You go into that room and do good work, but your nerves are so severe that you lose a lot of the freedom, excitement and joy that you brought to your initial audition.
Even if you got every note right, you can’t help but feel like you bombed it. 

A fear of success and visibility basically means that the closer you get to success, the harder it becomes to show up, the more you doubt yourself, and the more you experience ‘failure’.

It makes no sense, because obviously you want to book that job, but you are self-sabotaging in very subtle ways.

The same thing can happen when it comes to finishing your film or launching your new program as an entrepreneur. 

You want people to see your work or buy your program, but there is this latent fear that maybe people won’t like what you have to offer, they’ll judge you, or that you’ll fail in a really public way.

The root of your fear of success and visibility

Regardless of what your biggest fear is around success and visibility (and yes, fear of failure is closely linked and perhaps indistinguishable from both), all of these fears relate directly back to some other version of being canceled or excommunicated from your community.

We are a social species and we all have a fundamental need to belong.

So you may be wondering, where did my fear of visibility and success actually come from? My performers especially, who love the spotlight. After all, wasn’t that why you got into the acting game to begin with?

Here are the top reasons why our fear of success and visibility get triggered:

  1. We are expected to be “on” all of the time. 

    Whether you’re auditioning, posting on social media on the regular, or doing whatever equivalent type of visibility your create pursuit requires, being visible all the time simply isn’t sustainable.

    We aren’t designed to be “on” all of the time. Each of us has a capacity for visibility and success. When we try to stretch that too quickly, our bodies feel unsafe and then contract to protect us. If we ignore that contraction and try to push through, our bodies create a stronger and stronger contraction until we have no choice but to listen. 

    We need to learn how to be visible as part of a cycle so that we have time to stretch our levels of comfort and make time and space for rest and restoration in between.

  2. You’ve had some kind of trauma in your life around being visible, successful or both.

    Did you fail really publicly and experience deep shame? Did someone stop being your friend or abandon you in some way after a big success? Did you have trouble making friends as a kid

    Subconsciously, your body may be protecting you from repeating an experience where it felt deeply unsafe.

  3. You are being affected by generational or ancestral trauma around being visible, successful or both.

    If you are BIPOC, LGBTQ, Jewish, a woman, or a member of any other group that has been historically oppressed in some way, there are collective traumas that directly relate to your feelings of safety around expressing your opinions and being fully authentic to who you are.

    So if you can’t think of any discernible reason why you would be afraid of being visible or successful from your own immediate experience, this may well be the reason.

    There has been increasing research into how trauma can be passed down through DNA expression through multiple generations. For more information about this, check out Rachel Yahuda’s 2022 article in Scientific American.

What to do when your fear of visibility and success get triggered

So now that you know what the causes of your fear of visibility and success are, it is time to address them.

Here are some key strategies I’ve found to be incredibly effective:

  1. Re-balance your creativity cycle.

    As I’ve mentioned, we are not designed to be “on” or visible all of the time. After each cycle of visibility, make sure you are taking the time to culminate or release your attachment to what you’ve put out there. Then take the time to rest and set powerful intentions or plans before being visible again. Even if you are required to be visible every day, you can make sure you are taking yourself through the full cycle of creativity each time.

  2. Clarify your values and then act in accordance with them.

    When it comes to being visible, it is very important to make sure you know clearly what your boundaries are. 

    For example, when it comes to social media, what are you willing to share and what are you unwilling to share? How often do you post? How much time do you spend posting? And what do you post about? 

    I recently stopped posting for a while because I hit a bit of a wall around the question of how to post and share when a large part of my experience can’t be public because of my own very necessary boundaries. It was very important for me to clarify what my values are – which include authenticity – and figure out ways to honor my values and boundaries at the same time.

    While still very much a work in progress, here was my first attempt after bringing my values more clearly into focus.
  1. Titrate when you are trying to expand beyond your comfort level.

    Going beyond our comfort level is an important part of growth, and at the same time, it is completely unreasonable to expect ourselves to expand all at once. We have to honor the time that it takes.

    Titration is a tool that psychologists and somatic practitioners use with patients when they are working to heal trauma. By encouraging them to experience physical sensation in small doses which gradually increase over time, they are creating a feeling of safety for their clients to unwind past experiences and unprocessed emotions.

    As you step into greater visibility, allow yourself to do it in small doses as well and you’ll be less likely to trigger a big contraction. Not to mention the fact that as your comfort level increases, you’ll be operating at a higher level of visibility in your day-to-day experience.
  1. Get curious about your trauma and get extra help when you need it.

    Discovering why you may be sensitive about being visible or successful may prove to be incredibly illuminating. You may recognize that the very thing you are afraid of is irrational and that recognition may free you. Sometimes the bodily sensations and emotions that arise can be released without knowing what caused it. We don’t have to revisit past trauma to heal it.

    Working with a coach or energy healer, like myself, can help release blocked energy and shift old stuck beliefs to more useful ones that enable you to step fully into success. For more serious trauma, find a therapist.

Now it’s your turn.

Did anything about this post resonate with you? If so, what bubbled to the surface? I’d love for you to share any of your revelations in the comments below.

And if you’d like some assistance in clearing your success and visibility blocks, I’d love to chat. Click here to book your complimentary 1:1 Joyful Action Strategy Consultation today.

Much love,


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