Personal Development Conversations: The Suffer to Succeed Mentality

Sometimes I look for the escape route and I wonder if it is because I can’t figure out how to make the “now” work, so I just want to run and start over.

Does that sound familiar?

Yes, those of us who do personal development work, probably think too much. We ask ourselves questions like: “Do I suffer from Starter Syndrome?” You know, that concept that we start lots of things and rarely finish them, like reading a book, finishing a project, starting a business… but never see them to fruition because we are onto the next thing one we think we “learned” from it what we needed to?

I would like to consider myself a Finisher, but if I really dig deep and assess my habits,


  • think I know enough to move forward

  • have a HUGE issue with repetitive actions that make me feel like I am going in a circle

  • constantly push myself to learn something else

  • recognize that suffering doesn’t work for me

This approach to life is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because I put myself out there to try something I desire and test the waters. I reserve the right to fumble and change my mind. So, I am not hesitant to start, I just allow things to change quickly for me.

The curse part comes in then when my forward momentum leaves others in the dust, not understanding what just happened. And while it’s not my place to carry them through, I also don’t want to be alone and, sometimes, I want others there to carry me too.

The bottom line is that if I wanted to list out accomplishments to satisfy the Finisher in me, there would be several. My problem is that I get too hung up if the speed at which I choose to finish something is slower than my desire takes me, or in other words, if it’s taking too long! If I really check in with my “big why” on why I’m doing something and it truly matters, the achiever in me will push to get it done, and I will stick with it until the end.

I discovered in my personal development journey that in the past I used to stay in suffering in order to succeed. How many of us have that – the Suffering = Success Syndrome?  How many of us have had the lesson of “Love hurts”?

Where do you think that was created? I have found this has its roots in thoughts of guilt, and the beliefs that we are not good enough, or that our efforts weren’t enough. Dominant influences such as media and religion have us comparing ourselves to the perfect and polarizing first and last/best and worst. We aren’t praised for being creative and innovative until that’s been choked out of us and we have to find it again. And, those who do find success but maintain a lack mentality feel threaten that they will somehow be exposed, become uncomfortably vulnerable or that they will lose their power.

The truth is that more than likely, we performed better than average, we are uniquely exceptional in something and that it is only our own negative self-talk that keeps us believing our lack of worth. The truth is that power is an illusion and vulnerability is strength.

The choices we make in our minds control the choices we make in action. The power of our thoughts is truly astounding to me.

I am curious, how do you push forward? Do you ever get stuck in circular motion that does not give you the end result you were looking for? What do you do to break free and take what you have learned into the next adventure?

I would love to hear from you! Please feel free to follow me on Instagram @kareenzwalsh and DM me! I am on there more than most platforms. 


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