Home / Happiness  / How to overcome the fear of success

How to overcome the fear of success

Fear of success is real and believe it or not there are millions across the world who live with this phobia on a daily basis. It is difficult to define because success can come and is judged in so many different forms, but it is bad enough to cause major problems for sufferers – and in extreme cases it can be life changing.

It seems ironic that while so many crave success and the fame and fortune that goes with it, there are those that fear it with the same level of passion – at least it seems that way especially when you discover that success and the way we react to it, means different things to different people. Learning how to overcome the fear of success is the first step towards putting things right - and it happens when you can identify the type of person you are and what is really holding you back.

Fear of success at the most basic level is there for those that never want to be seen to be standing out in a crowd. That could mean never putting your hand up in class or at a meeting, never volunteering or putting yourself forward for even the most mundane of tasks, always sitting in the back row, hoping you will go unnoticed.

Fear of success in such cases means the potential for humiliation, the thought that people will laugh at you if you get it wrong. Much better not to try, than to take the risk of public rejection. Confused, I expect you are, because what I am describing sounds more like the fear of failure – so let me first explain the difference.

The two are closely linked, but while the variations may be subtle – they are still very much poles apart. Fear of failure is all about wanting something badly but being too afraid to pursue the dream. Fear of success, which comes in many different forms, is also the worry that great things will be foisted upon you as a result and you will not be worthy, so best not to try.

This feeling of unworthiness or embarrassment is the real key to understanding fear of success and when you can get that idea fixed in your mind that you might have a problem, then you can then look to use positive thinking as a potential solution and embrace the real benefits that success brings, but more about that later.

Unworthiness or embarrassment comes in many different forms so you need to understand the levers that make you feel this way. The most common relates to money where sufferers feel that they should not have been so blessed or have been more fortunate than others. They find it difficult to cope when they see poverty and lack and as a consequence feel guilty that they have been successful while others have not.

It is no good telling such people that there is plenty to go around and everyone can enjoy the same success and prosperity if they practice positive thinking and the same kind of work ethic. They have heard for example all the stories that being rich cannot relate to religious beliefs – the best known being about the wealthy man, the camel and the eye of the needle which implies that the opulent will never enter heaven.

In spite of these fears there are many who still reach the greatest heights even though they fear being unable to cope with what it brings. Such people conveniently forget that they can use their wealth to benefit the poor and make a difference in a way that reflects their means – they can only see the guilt and as a result are unable to enjoy their money and what it can do and in consequence dislike the fact that they are successful.

Even worse is the scenario that those that have the ability to be rich reject the idea because they feel they will never be able to have the confidence to handle money. Equally, they never aspire to let the world see their talent for fear they will not be able to handle fame.

There are many similar variations which all relate to fear of success and we need to find out which one applies to you if we are ever going to put it right. The most common fear is lack of acceptance no matter how successful they are and this often stems from an abusive relationship with parents at an early age when everything that person tried was never good enough. Fear of success is also caused by anxieties, especially if a previous experience had been painful such as an association with a successful project which coincided with a messy divorce or something equally as disastrous.

Fear of success also relates to people who worry that they might be called to do other kinds of stuff such as media interviews. For others, the fear of success relates to embarrassment that they have prospered while others have failed. However, the worse kind are those that practice fear of success by working very hard all the time but ensure that they never quite pull it off. They then blame it on bad luck or other circumstances without realising that they are secretly sabotaging their own efforts.

By now we should have an idea as to whether I am talking about someone like you. If the answer is yes then we should set about doing something about it. Positive thinking offers a realistic solution but first you have to be completely aware of what's holding you back. Which personality type are you from the above list - and if you do not associate with any of these then it is time to be really honest and decide what is really causing your fear of success.

how to overcome the fear of success

It starts with a plan and like many other areas of powerful positive thinking you need a piece of paper and a pen and you must write down your specification to the Universe. Write down as clearly as possible why you fear success so that you can identify the causes. Make sure that you write these down as well and next to them add that they no longer have any place in your life.

At the same time put all your fears to one side for the moment and write down the thing or things you wish to achieve in life once you have eliminated the fear of success. Use bucket loads of common sense when you do this – by keeping it real you will make it happen. See yourself in the spotlight, completely at ease and enjoying the attention. See the admiration and accolades that you deserve coming your way

By being open and honest and writing down everything that is worrying you and preventing your progress you are now confronting those fears and by doing this then they will not seem so daunting.

All done – then progress to the third section and write down a plan of action that will help you and the Universe deliver your aspirations. This is your specification, it is personal to you so read it again and amend where necessary because when you are happy with it – you must destroy it – the more dramatically, the better.

That is your signal to the Universe that your order has been delivered. Now it is important that you forget about it and concentrate instead on the action. If you keep focusing on what you want it will never happen?

You have done all the hard work, you have confronted your fears and given yourself the power. Change will not happen overnight but you have taken that vital first step by identifying the problem – so what are you waiting for.