• Ami Mattison
  • 'Powerful Beyond Measure': Fear vs. Creative Success
'Powerful Beyond Measure': Fear vs. Creative Success
Written by
Ami Mattison
November 2010
Written by
Ami Mattison
November 2010
“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?” Marianne Williamson Are you afraid of creative success? Do you dream of success in your creative career, but find yourself afraid to take even small risks to achieve your dreams? There was a time when I thought I feared, not success, but failure in my creative pursuits. However, with increasing successes in my creative life, I’ve come to experience increasing discomfort with and even embarrassment about my creative accomplishments. For instance, a blogger friend wants to write a series of blog articles that feature an interview with me. Since August, I’ve been sitting on the questions she so thoughtfully worked on. Each time I’ve tried to answer her questions, I’ve become uneasy and self-conscious. Ultimately, I don’t want to write about my creative career and achievements. Having a spotlight focused on my creative accomplishments is uncomfortable for me. Ultimately, it’s easier to hide in obscurity. Fear of Failure vs. Fear of Success Fear is faith that it won’t work out. Sister Mary Tricky Fear of creative failure and fear of creative success look a lot alike. Because they’re fears, both tend to be unconscious. And they’re often linked in our minds. If we don’t succeed, if we don’t try, then failure is not possible. Instead, we maintain the more comfortable status quo of underachievement. Finally, both fears have similar symptoms, such as negativity, defeatism, and self-sabotage. Both keep you from making an effort and from realizing your creative dreams. Read the rest of the article at poetryNprogress.

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  • Ami Mattison

    Thank you, Karen, for your kind words and for sharing your experience. I too get angry with myself when I let my fears get in my way, but I've found that I'm likely to move forward more easily when I treat myself kindly and nurture my inner artist, rather than berate myself.

    I think it's great that you're committed to moving forward on your first book (very exciting!) and not letting your fears slow you down! Good for you!

    And it's so true that we all have something important to share and that each of our voices are necessary. What I like about the Marianne Williams quote is that she seems to be making it an obligation to ourselves and to the world for us to let ourselves shine and succeed.

    I can see your light and your bright future from here. Keep shining, Karen!

  • Karen H. Thompson

    Ami, thanks so much for your article. It was great and very thought provoking! I'm working on my first book. I've recognized my self sabotage and fear tactics that have slowed down my pace. I go from being angry with myself for letting these irrational thoughts slow me down but I'm committed to pushing forward and working through my issues. My future is bright and your article was helpful and timely for me as I "manage my fears" rather than run from them. Your article reminded me that we all have a perspective that is worth sharing. Thanks!

  • Ami Mattison

    Yes, Fran, the fear that comes with artistic success can be overwhelming and quite uncomfortable. I think when I achieve creatively and feel fear in that creative success, it's because I've usually disclosed something about myself, offered up my words and creativity to others, and I feel vulnerable to negative critique and other people's opinions of me.

    But I think the way to deal with this fear is to really question why we feel the fear and how we can face it and overcome it. I think if we can detach our egos (our sense of self) from what we produce with our writing, then we have a better chance of not internalizing negative critique. I wrote an article entitled "Why You Are Not Your Writing," which might clarify my point here.

    It's hard when we've had negative experiences, such as yours, around our creative successes. I too have had negative experiences. In my case, some of my close artist-friends grew jealous of my success and became passive aggressive in their hostilities. This experience taught me to NOT take negative reactions to my success so personally. Because ultimately, in my case, the negativity was about them, not me or my success.

    Anyway, thank you for sharing your experience! And best of luck with your writing!

  • fran schumer

    Thanks so much Ami. Having been trashed, and I mean trashed, by one or more male reviewers, I'm glad SHE WRITES is taking up the topic of failure and success. Yes, it is easier, so much easier, not to do than to do and suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.....On the other hand, when I've enjoyed creative success, I've felt frightened, like I'm floating off the planet, and that's uncomfortable as well.

  • Ami Mattison

    Thank you, Juliet! I'm so glad the advice resonated with you!

  • Juliet Wilson

    excellent article! Good advice on how to confront our fears,.