Fear, Gratitude and Trust. How can I help you shine your light?



Have you ever experienced something really great and then been paralyzed by fear?

Fear of loosing what you’ve gained, fear of waking up and realizing it was just a dream, fear that you won’t be able to keep it up and that you will end up disappointing people?

There’s a reason why successful musicians usually spend a lot more time working on their second album. And there’s a reason why famous and successful people often self-sabotage by either quitting what they’re doing, create a public scandal or just change tracks completely.

I think it’s because they can’t handle the pressure.

Since I grew up with my nose in a book, I will use an example from my own academic experience.

For my first year of law school, I (quite unexpectedly, at least to me) got a double A on my exam. I don’t want to brag, but out of about 600 students sitting the exam, there were 11 of us who got two A’s.

It was huge.

And don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful and proud of my own achievement and this has opened the doors to a lot of interesting opportunities. But doing so well in my first year has also been a burden to carry thoughout my studies. Because with achievement comes fear.

Fear of screwing up a really good opportunity. Fear of not being able to do it again. Fear of disappointing myself and others. Fear that it will only go downhill from here.

And so I have been struggling my way through law school with huge and very unrealistic expectations of myself. Which has not been healthy. And I haven’t done as well as I wanted to do, because I have been so afraid to fail.

Because I didn’t know how to handle the pressure that comes from being good at something.

(And yes, I mean this literally. I have been so afraid of not being able to keep it up that I have seriously expected nothing but the absolute perfection of myself. And when I’m not able to be perfect (which, is like, never!) I seriously think I’ve failed the exam. Every time. Which of course never happens.)

When I posted my story a few days ago, I had no idea what to expect. Maybe a few comments, maybe an e-mail or two. Not in my wildest fantasies did I ever expect being met with so much love and support. I don’t have words to express my gratitude. For the first time in my life I feel like I’m not alone. And it means everything to me – it really, really does.

But with support, praise, success and love comes that sneaking fear of screwing it up.

What happens when they realize I’m not really that awesome after all? What happens when they realize I’m not always inspiring, not a consistenly good writer, not good enough? What happens when it becomes apparent that I still struggle? Will anyone still listen to me? Will anyone still like me? Will anyone still accept me?

Because when you are used to suffering, to being the most unlucky person on earth, to being rejected – being supported, loved and accepted is overwhelming. And frightening. And too good to be true.

Have you ever felt this way?

Another thing I have learned from Brené Brown, however, is that the best way to accept joy and happiness is to focus on gratitude. Because gratitude always is more powerful than fear. And so this is what I’m working on right now.

But how do you show your gratitude without acting like a complete fool? Without saying thank you a million times and by that undermining the truth that lies in the love, support and the praise?

I mean, does being baffled, speechless and completely overwhelmed by the fact that people (and by that I mean you!) seem to like what I do only re-inforce the view I have of myself as an unworthy and less acceptable person?

(As you might have noticed by now, my mind never gives me peace.)

After seaching my soul and working on accepting and being grateful for the support and love, I have found that the response that is true to my spirit and mission is to continue being myself. Freely. Completely.

It’s about trust.

Trusting who you are, trusting that people actually do like you, trusting that the love is real.

And so the response true to my soul is to continue to be of service. Which is why I want to ask

How can I best help you on your healing journey? How can I support you in making your dreams come true? How can I help you live the life you want to live? How can I be your light, lifeboat or your ladder? What do I seem to know that you most want to learn? What do you need rigth now?

If you can think of anything I can do, please comment or send me an e-mail to Marthe@thefreedomexperiment.com.

Being of service is the medicine I can give to the world that will also heal me.*

(*Credit to Danielle LaPorte for this beautiful phrase)



{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Amelia Jane July 16, 2012 at 11:54 am

“What happens when they realize I’m not always inspiring, not a consistenly good writer, not good enough?”

This is always in my mind. Every time someone praises me for a piece of writing, I think – What if next time, my piece is awful? What if they don’t praise me, will that mean that it’s worse? I’ve quit writing for online publications because of this voice, and I’ve moved blog home so many times because of this voice. You’re right when you say it’s about trusting yourself. Trusting that whether a post gets no comments, or 100 comments, it was still worth writing because it needed to be written. It’s hard! But I’d rather the hard work of learning to trust myself than the hard work of pulling myself down on a daily basis.

Do you have any advice on how a person can learn to trust themselves?


Marthe July 24, 2012 at 5:26 pm

“What if next time, my piece is awful?”

I feel the same way. But I don’t think the solution is to run away from this voice, but rather meet it and accept it. That voice is here to protect us:)

Let me think more about learning to trust yourself – I will definitely write about this soon.


Fred Hagen July 16, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Being a scientist is very different than this because 95 % of experiments fail or do not provide a definitive answer and often no one believes in what you are doing. Therefore, one of the biggest criteria of being a scientist is having great belief in “your ideas” and “yourself” and being able to push forward with total determination. Often the greatest discoveries in science are made when no one believes in your hypothesis and you have to persevere until you have validated or disproved your idea.

A good example of this is Babara McClintock’s suggestion that genes “jumped around” to cause the different coloration of kernels of corn in Indian corn before the advent of recombinant DNA and DNA sequence analysis showed that she was correct. People thought she was nuts and she had great difficulty in getting funding for her research but she persevered, essentially alone, under this cloud of derision and disbelief for most of her career until methods were developed to prove her theory was correct. Then she became a hero, famous, and won the Noble Prize for her work on transposons and people were falling all over themselves to praise her pioneering work !!


Karen July 16, 2012 at 10:02 pm

How I love you for writing this post. It’s something I struggle with too. When I found out I got into Royal Welsh College it was so weird because I’d become used to not getting in, to not being good enough. And with that also came more pressure to perform exceedingly well in our end of year production as I was the only one who had applied for an MA course.
The trust is coming. Slowly. But it’s coming. I just have to stay mindful of trusting and letting myself be led by gratitude because there is just so much in my life right now to be grateful for. It’s nice to feel like I’m more aware of that right now. Onward and upward :)


Marthe July 24, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Onward and upward.

I love this!


Erin McNaughton July 17, 2012 at 7:22 am

The reason that you’re so beautiful and an inspiration to so many is your honesty, your authenticity, your concern for others, your ability to admit that you’re not perfect and that you do have fears. We all have that fear of screwing up and of falling short of expectation. No matter how many people tell us we’re amazing, inspirational, or on the right path, we’re always the hardest on ourselves. Sometimes that fear can be paralyzing – there have been countless time in my own life where I’ve wanted to completely give up on everything, so reading about someone else who’s been through the same thing makes me feel less alone. And I know how much courage it takes to open up about the hard, alongside the beautiful. I admire you so much for tackling both ends of the spectrum with such eloquence and honesty. Expect nothing more than your personal best, because to be in alignment with other people’s hopes for you is to deny your true self. You are more than good enough, and always will be. You have the love and support of everyone in real life, and certainly everyone here. Trust your beautiful heart.


Liss (daydream lily) July 19, 2012 at 4:01 am

AMEN!!! I love thta you cna articulate something I have felt for many years!!!!!! This is something I’ve tried to articulate in terms of my blog but always struggled to talk to anyone about my fears because when I did I was often met with the response that I am ungrateful or feelings like I am complaining. I have tried before to explain to people that success in blogging and the attention also comes with immense pressure and feelings of losing your freedom. pressure to live up to that standard, pressure to preform, pressure that you are some sort of fraud that you arent really what people think you are and at anytime it will all fall apart. so this post I totally get. I totally understand that feeling and at times it has gotten so great for me that I feel like I want to destroy it all. I also get the same feeling with now doing my phD — im not worthy, when will they realise Im not good enough.

I dont have an answer or how to stop those constant feelings of doubt, pressure and self destruction. some of my journey has been about building confidence and that helps me deal with the pressure. also to accept myself and my faults and not expect perfection, realise that there are people in my life who love me regardless


Marthe July 24, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Liss, I totally get why feel this way! It has nothing to do with being ungrateful, it’s about fear and a lot of love. We don’t want to disappoint people who have high expectations of us. And that is actually a good thing – these feelings arise out of love and compassion for our readers and audiences.

However, I do think that one of the ways to deal with this is to focus on gratitude. Focus on all the support you are getting right this very minute. This way your focus shifts from worrying about the future to feeling the love here and now.

The many responses I’ve received on this post show that it is so much easier to comfort other people about this than ourselves. Of course we love you, Liss! Even if you mess up or don’t post for a while or just post something less than interesting – nothing can change that.

The problem is trusting ourselves and telling ourselves the same! I mean what I say to you with my whole heart, but I still think that others will disapprove if I’m not perfect all the time.


Liss (daydream lily) July 24, 2012 at 10:57 pm

thanks lovely xx I had a therapist once that use to tell me, imagine this is your friend telling you these things…what would you tell your friend. that also helped a lot to realise how much harder I was on myself than I was on my friends.
loving your blog Marthe :) :)


Bronwen June 1, 2015 at 3:09 pm

Wow! Marthe I thank you for this post. I’ve never read anything that captures so well that feeling of being terrified of not living up to expectations…alongside the baffled and overwhelming nature of unconditional support praise and love. Coming back to uni and studying something I am truly interested in, I have received three straight HD (High Distinctions). My next subject I was disappointed to receive a Distinction. Disappointed! I’ve pushed myself so hard to achieve that I lost my passion for a time. Thank fully I have fallen back into love with study and learning. But sudden success in another passion has taken my breath away. And a lover’s tender affection has left me bewildered…and a little frightened. Is this how it’s meant to be? How can I possibly deserve this? So much self doubt and that trust you mention is such a big thing to let in. I can see how others are such amazing human beings, but to see myself as somebody worth being friends with…someone who needn’t assume rejection? That’s a big step and is taking years of undoing past experiences and beliefs.

I send you sweet bubbles of love and acceptance and joy. Thank you for being you!


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