Do You Fear Success?

Do you think that sounds crazy or did that question strike a nerve with you? If you get close to success and then find you sabotage yourself, you might be afraid of success. If you don’t like using the word “fear” then look at it this way: Do you avoid taking the steps that would lead to your success?

Here are some things to think about:

Are you afraid of getting your hopes up? Of looking forward to something and then being let down if it doesn’t happen?

Did you grow up in a household where you heard that you weren’t going to amount to anything or that you weren’t living up to your family’s expectations? If you internalized that verbal abuse, you might feel like you don’t deserve success.

Do you associate success with competition, and competition makes you uncomfortable?

Do you associate success with envy, so you might therefore avoid success so no one envies you/dislikes you?

Do you ever feel guilty being happy when someone you’re close isn’t?

Do you procrastinate when you know you’re precariously close to not finishing an important project or meeting an important deadline?

Are you afraid of risk?

Do you talk yourself out of taking chances at opportunities that could help you?

Do you figure that eventually you’ll fail anyway, so why try in the first place?

Do you feel that you can’t have money AND integrity? Money AND good relationships?

Are you afraid that if you succeed, you won’t be able to handle the next step, and will end up failing?

You may not like your current situation, but are you comfortable in the role you have with your family, friends, co-workers, and succeeding at a new level would change that?

To resolve your fear of success, spend some time – 20 or 30 minutes at least – examining what your life will look like if you succeed. What realistically will happen? The best thing(s)? The worse thing(s)? This will help you identify what exactly you’re afraid of, as well as give you a better picture of what success will look like.

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Once you’ve identified the downsides, create a backup plan (as we discussed in Do You Fear Failure) to help you move forward. Are you afraid that your new promotion will cause you to work crazy long hours? That your co-workers won’t like you anymore? That having a bestselling novel will lead to a loss of privacy? Picture yourself in your new situation and figure out how you will deal with those things.

It might also help for you to consider how you would advise a close friend or loved one who’s in your situation. Chances are you’d encourage him or her to go for it, so pretend as though you’re having a conversation to delve into the pros, cons, and solutions.

For more information check out this article in Psychology Today, and this one as well.

Have you ever feared success? How did you deal with it?


Do You Fear Success? — 2 Comments

  1. MEG Bertini, thanks a lot i never thought that even a person can fear success.Could you please guide me why i procrastinate?What to do?
    According to your article of fear of success it is well enriched,it surely represent kind of personality you are. Could you please guide me more?
    prashant bendale.india-maharashtra-nashik.
    Thank you for more information.

  2. Hi Prashant, Glad you enjoyed this article. As for procrastination, it’s important to figure out *why* you’re procrastinating. Do you dislike what you have to do? Does it seem like too big of a task, so you don’t know where and how to start? Do you like the adrenalin rush from doing things last minute? Figuring out *why* you’re procrastinating will go a long way toward stopping. Good luck!