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Feeling Guilty for Being a Success?

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to someone who was struggling with feelings of guilt because they were excelling at something while others they knew weren’t doing quite as good.  Sometimes success brings feelings of guilt.  My response was a written one.  I want to share it here for all of those who may have had similar feelings.  I hope this helps. 🙂

” There is never anything silly about your feelings.  They are legitimate and worth sharing and I am both grateful and honored that you shared yours with me.  Believe it or not, I understand very well the feelings of guilt you are experiencing.  Many times, when I have been doing very well at something, there has been a part of me that felt terrible because I was doing better than others.  I did not want to stand out in the crowd or have the spotlight shinning on me. I just did not want my success to make someone else feel less or bad.

I still do not want my successes to make another feel bad, but I have learned much over the past several years.  I have learned that not everyone wants to work as hard as I do.  I have learned that not everyone has the desire to excel at whatever it is they do.  There are many who do, but there are many who do not.

Now here is an important lesson I learned:  Sadly, it is almost always the ones who do not work hard and push themselves to excel who develop hard feelings toward those who do.  It is the old enemy of jealousy.  It is easier to get mad and blame someone else than it is to diligently apply oneself to the path of excellence.

Another important lesson I learned:  I learned that whenever I held myself back, in order to not “offend” someone because I did well, I was miserable.  I was miserable because I knew I could do so much better, but I had intentionally sabotaged myself.  WHY? I had crippled my own success because someone else simply did not want to do what was necessary to succeed.  In the end, I did not help them one bit and had hurt myself.  A true “lose, lose” situation.  Here’s the thing, if people are too lazy to put out the effort to succeed, you make them uncomfortable and they NEED to feel that way.  Being uncomfortable is the only way any of us grow and change.

One more thing:  In the end, I just want to help people.  I know how cheesy that sounds, but it is true nonetheless.  I discovered that holding myself down, smothering my true abilities, would never help another person.  Never.  However, if I succeed, share my success with others, (and don’t become arrogant/cocky) I will definitely help some.  Not everyone, but definitely some.  That makes it all worthwhile.

It is fun and good to have friendly competition among ourselves.  I love it when I am doing well.  LOVE IT!  Still, when I see someone else kicking ass, I am happy for them.  In fact, it encourages me to get my butt in gear and try to catch them!   See, if I get mad because you are doing well, it is not you who has the problem, but ME.   Never let anyone hold you down.

I am fully aware that adopting the mindset I have described is not the easy path.  Good things seldom come to you on the easy path.  Please, do not hold yourself down.  Do not hold yourself back.  I think you dim your light sometimes because you don’t like to be in the spotlight.  Never dim your light.  We all NEED to see you shine brightly.  Your light will show the rest of us the way.

You’ve been an amazing caterpillar my friend, but it’s time to emerge from your cocoon and spread those beautiful wings.”

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