Shame to be successful

Shame to be successful

I always fly economy. But on my last vacation, there were no such tickets and I had to take business class. And then it began. I felt so ashamed of this, that I even asked my husband not to talk about it to our children.

Self-observations made me think, why am I even ashamed? Shouldn't I feel proud? I earned my vacation, I can afford it, and my family will not suffer from such expenses.

As usual, I started researching this issue and found a statement that resonated with me:

It took me a long time to realize that the reason I don’t want to tell people about my success today is because it means letting go of the core values I developed as a teenager. It’s not what others think of me that I’m worried about; it’s what my 13-year-old self would say: “You only care about money.” (1)

Forbes: Is Success Scarier Than Failure?

Only in my head the voice was: “You become just like THEM.”

My family and our ancestors are all from a small town. They all worked regular jobs and lived the same lives. Some of them tried to do business, but it always ended in bankruptcy and a return to an ordinary life.

My parents also had several friends who “did it.” Some moved to the big city, others abroad, and one even grew a very successful business.

THEY all disappeared over time from the life of our family. I don’t remember the details of situations, I only remember my feelings - people who move forward leave behind those who were with them before success. And this is mean and dishonest.

My mother once told me: “Don’t become like THEM.”

Now I consciously understand that success comes with self-growth and with tremendous changes within the individual. And for people to continue to be together, everyone must change. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Even my therapist warned me that if it was just me in therapy and my husband didn't work on it too, the risks to our marriage would increase significantly.

It turns out that THEY were not vile and ignoble, but it’s just life and we all grow in different directions and are only fellow travellers (when we are on the same path).

It's sad. Letting go of people from your life is very difficult, even friends, let alone family. Family is supposed to be with you forever.

When I feel like there's something wrong with me, it usually calms me down to know that other people might feel the same way. While searching for information about how often people feel the way I do, I came across a study about first-generation Latino college students. It turned out that being the first person in a family to achieve success often makes us feel as if we abandoned our loved ones or put ourselves above them

Woo-hoo! I'm not the only one. Relief :)

There is only one problem: understanding what’s happening to me is not equal to changing it.

Now I understand exactly how the shame of being successful prevents me from self-growth. It prevents me from owning my achievements and speaking freely about them. It prevents me from claiming more, so it means limiting my horizons.

But how I can get rid of this?

  • 12 step program says that we cannot get rid of anything by ourselves and we need to ask a Higher Power to release us from it

  • My psychotherapist says that there is no way to get rid of it, I need to experience such emotion but act based on objective things

  • Articles on the Internet say that I need to give myself permission to be successful and compensate for this feeling by serving others

I guess I'll try everything at once

I wish you not to have such problems :)