Fear of success: As a child, did you ever wish you were like someone else, in who they were, what they looked like, the number of friends they had and how cool they were?
Did you put effort into trying and doing things, with the hope, it would amount to something, but it didn’t, because it wasn’t good enough and others did it better? Did you find you were invisible and felt irrelevant?
And when you did things to be visible and succeed, the way you managed it drew judgement and rejection. Or you were put down, criticised and rejected for just being you and for what you didn’t do.
This is the conditioning that creates a fear of success
WHAT IS FEAR OF SUCCESS
Why would anyone have a fear of success, you ask. Isn’t it what everyone wants in life?
And is it.
If you were able to achieve everything you ever wanted. And if you were everything you knew you can be if you were successful in who you are and what you do and you stood in your light shining, how would you truly feel?
There are people who achieve success at the expense of their privacy, themselves and their lives. And, there are the people who put their focus and energy into being successful at preventing their success.
SO why are people scared of success? Why are some of us successful at failing or preventing success? Keeping ourselves small and invisible and not putting the same energy into being successful. Unlike fear of failure, we are familiar and comfortable with failing.
WHAT WE ARE SCARED OF
Fear of success is where you are scared of being successful and what comes with the success.
- The attention and visibility which draws judgements and rejection
- As well as the responsibility which brings with it the burden of expectations
- The lack of self-worth in believing you are not good enough and don’t deserve to have success
- And the conditioning of previous experiences where you did things and they didn’t work out, so you expect the pattern to continue
And the fear doesn’t have to be in all areas of your life. It can be in your relationships, job and or career, friendships, health, finances and even appearance. Also, your role as a parent, a boss, an employee and even whether you start or complete things.
What if success, your success was about doing what is right for you and by you?
What is success? It is a very subjective process. One that society globally strongly influences our belief system and expectations as to what success is.
Success globally is measured by the money you have and the number of Instagram followers you achieve. As well as the possessions you have, the fame and notoriety you attain. Your status and traditionally the education and letters you had after your name.
Success for some individuals is about being able to get out of bed each morning. As well as making it through a day, sharing kindness with other people, cooking a nice meal, learning something new and feeling good about yourself.
Globally success is focused on what you achieve. With very little value placed on the personal things you do moment by moment of every day, where you do right by yourself, you do the things that feel good and where you are a success for you.
Our past conditions our fear and the conscious and subconscious decisions we make as to whether we embrace or reject our achievements and success.
JUDGEMENTS AND REJECTION
With success come judgements. People who are a success stand out. They are the tall poppies and people don’t want them to shine, as it highlights what they are not doing. So judgement, criticism and sometimes downright cruelty, will chop them down in size. So why would we want to experience or expose ourselves to this, a process that hurts?
The perception that being successful means you draw attention to yourself. You are visible and if your previous experience is that attention equals rejection you may not have the resilience to manage this. It will scare the crap out of you.
People are jealous of others success. They project their self-judgement on those that are successful. They believe that the successful person has something they don’t have. And do they?
What the jealous person does not see is all the amazing things that they have within them and that are in their life. Why because of their fear of success. And if they do see the wonderful things, they struggle to own them and don’t allow themselves to express and experience them.
We become isolated, small and invisible hiding from the judgements and rejection from others, but we can’t hide from the judgements and rejection we have about success in ourselves.
Others expectations around our success.
These expectations become our expectations and they have a huge influence on our lives.
People expect us not to amount to anything and that we will not succeed. We are compared to others with the “if only you were like your siblings” or “if only you were like so and so’s child” and you are set up to fail before you even start.
And then when you do succeed it still is never good enough.
Then the expectations grow and now you must continue to be successful. You are expected to be that successful person, that image, that object, that perfect being all the time. And anything less is not acceptable.
You should behave in a certain manner, you must do particular things, be available at specific times and in required ways because you are successful. And, in doing so you lose who you are to what others want you to be.
You don’t want to let people down, because then you will be judged and rejected.
The pressure, the burden and the scrutiny, so we give up before we even try.
LACK OF SELF WORTH
Then your self-worth.
Why would I deserve to be successful or to have success if I don’t have many or any reference points of success in my life, or in particular areas of my life?
If others don’t believe I can be successful then why would I?
Ingrained in us lurking in different areas of our life are the messages we took on board. I am not good enough, I won’t amount to anything and that I don’t deserve the good things in life. And this means I don’t believe I am worthy of success. I don’t deserve to have wonderful things in my life.
So the moment I experience some form of success and things are going well, I subconsciously find ways to sabotage it. Sabotage a relationship, a job, an opportunity, a gift, an offer of help and any attention and visibility.
I do something to stuff it up so I can say to myself and reinforce my fear of success “see you knew this would happen”. “See you didn’t deserve to have things work out and to have success in your life”.
What we don’t see is we are the ones preventing them from happening.
Have you ever had a surprise party organised for you, and you walk into a room full of people who are there for you? Did you struggle to handle the attention, the love and the reality that these people actually care for you? The reason being, you don’t believe you deserve it.
If you cannot handle friends and family giving you attention, then how would you handle it from anyone else.
THE PATTERN OF PREVIOUS EXPERIENCES
In your relationships, if you have experienced people abandoning and leaving you, then you believe it will happen again. You subconsciously and consciously don’t get fully emotionally involved or attached, because you are waiting for the person to leave. And your behaviour towards them, your decision making and your interpretation of what is going on, is all influenced by your expectation of them leaving. You don’t believe someone loves you enough to stay, that you can have a successful relationship.
And the good old saying “you have left before you have arrived”.
You create an amazing idea, concept or business, but don’t market it. And you don’t put it out there; you don’t promote it and wonder why it goes nowhere. You are scared of self-promoting because previous experience resulted in judgements and rejection. So you give up your dream, your direction and the possibilities of what can come from them.
Only you can break the pattern of self-sabotage of your success.
So, we hold ourselves back from doing the things that we really love and want to do. We keep our talents, our qualities, our attributes and our being, small and invisible. And, we downplay who we are and what we are capable of.
We don’t own or express our truth, our true capability and we don’t experience our potential. And we are critical of ourselves and quick to find fault. Our pessimism colours our approach to situations and life because we expect things not to work out.
What we don’t see is what is working.
We don’t see what we do do well and the amazing things about our lives and who we are. This is because it is unfamiliar, uncomfortable and foreign to us and is scary to do.
Is it possible, is it real and do we deserve it?
Our fear and beliefs about success absorb us and life passes us by.
We measure our success in terms of how others view it. We compare ourselves to others. And we don’t value what we have done and who we are. We don’t enjoy all the moments of our day, all the things we do and we don’t do right by us.
We believe and accept that the judgements we have of ourselves are true. As we believe we are not a success, we are irrelevant, we are not worthy, we are not good enough. That we don’t have enough, we are not a good parent, we are not a good partner, we are not a good boss, we are not a capable employee, that we won’t amount to anything and that we may not be loveable.
Our judgements consume us and colour how we feel about ourselves, see ourselves and the actions we take or don’t take.
HOW TO WORK WITH FEAR OF SUCCESS
You are worthy, you are good enough, you are relevant and you are seen, most importantly and especially to you and by you.
Yes you have areas to work on and develop and you also do things and have qualities in you that are amazing. Time to see all of you and develop and own you.
Stop holding yourself back, put your head up high, take that step and do what you truly want to do, be who you truly are and own the amazing things in your life and do so for you.
Acknowledge and see each step you take that is different. Each change and development that feels right and good to you. So you can build on your evidence of what you are capable of and your success.
People’s judgements and expectations of you will only impact you if you have the same judgements and expectations of yourself. Then they are giving you a gift of uncovering an area you can heal in you.
You can manage and handle, whatever happens. Stop denying yourself experiences because of what others may do, feel or think, because the only thing that really matters is what YOU do, feel and think.
It is in your hands to action:
- identifying what it is in you that you value in how you feel, how you process, what you know and who you are
- exploring and owning what it is that you do that is of value, successful and creates outcomes that you feel good about and that are right for you
- asking for feedback from the people you feel safe with about what is it they value about you in who you are and what you do (this is so you can see yourself through their eyes)
- owning the feedback, hearing it, feeling it and seeing in you what they are seeing
- as you grow in your belief of yourself, asking the people outside of your immediate trusting relationships for the feedback
Each step you take if you take it is a success. Each step you take, take it for you. It is only your emotional attachment that keeps you from freeing yourself of the fear to be, go and do what you know is right for you.
Time to do so.
Grab a pen and paper and do what I term FREE WRITING. Don’t think about what you are writing but write down everything that goes through your head. It does not have to make sense. The objective of the process is for you to explore your process around fear of success and process it out. You will know you have finished when there is nowhere else to go with your processing. May you make some discoveries and gain some insights.
If you would like to email me a question or explore anything, please do so on the contact page. I will get back to you as soon as I can.
PROCESSING YOUR FEAR OF SUCCESS:
- What does success mean to you?
- How do you feel about success?
- What are you are scared of succeeding in that you are holding yourself back from?
- What are you scared will happen if you do these things?
- Why are you scared of succeeding in these areas?
- What would it mean if you did succeed in these areas?
- What is it you are not seeing or admitting to yourself about these areas?
- How is this impacting you and your life?
- What is your fear of success preventing you from having in your life?