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Thursday, 10 April 2014

About Fear of Success

Being afraid of success is much more common than you might think and can cause as much harm to you as fear of failure. Most people who are phobic about being successful are not aware of the fact that they are their own worst enemies. You might not have heard a lot about fear of success but are familiar with the following terms:

·        self-doubt
·        procrastination
·        self-destruction

All of these feelings and actions are related to fear of success; I will explain you how but first let’s clarify what does fear of success exactly mean. 

First, you need to know that your bodily responses to stress or anxiety, such as increased heart-beat, sweating and quickened breathing, are very similar to those that you experience when you are excited about a job-interview or being promoted. So, the physical symptoms that we produce when being bullied at school (a trauma) are the same that you have when you are enthusiastic about an exciting career-opportunity, for example. After having experienced enough traumas, we just do not want anything similar to happen, so we avoid situations that can involve similar consequences (physical symptoms, e.g.) to those that we faced when going through a trauma.

If you tend to question your skills or abilities when offered a promotion (“Do I really deserve this?”), are convinced of your own unworthiness (“I am a loser.”), often procrastinate when given a complex task the fulfillment of which can lead to professional or personal advancement (“How will I come up to other people’s expectations after having achieved this goal?”) or catch yourself sabotaging your development in your career or personal life (“I don’t want to take risks; I do not want to change.”), you want to avoid self-realization, namely you are afraid of success.

But why are some people afraid of success? How can you be anxious about something positive?
photo: Pinterest
The majority of people experiencing fear of success in their lives is unaware of having this problem as the feeling is unconscious and the reasons behind it could be traced back to the childhood. Similarly to having been bullied at school, you experienced a trauma when your parents had never been satisfied with your achievements or had been doubting your abilities constantly. In this case, you are very likely to practice regular self-doubt and will question your adequacy in your adulthood. Simply, due to some negative experiences in your early years related to opinions about your own capabilities (=not being pretty or smart enough, e.g.) you have false beliefs about yourself and are constantly doubting your skills or talents. Besides not believing in yourself and listening to the voices of self-doubt, you do not want to experience more traumas; hence you tend to avoid situations that can lead to change or anything unexpected.

“If someone is used to feeling bad, feeling good is hard or impossible."                                                                                                             David Krueger
The road to success is risky, hazardous and full of surprises. Some people are afraid of risks and greater responsibility that may come with being successful. Another reason for being scarred of reaching your personal best is being different, therefore not being accepted by others. Being extraordinary can make other people feel jealous and those who want to live up to others’ expectations do not want to experience this; they just want to fit in, not provoking any (either negative or positive) feelings.

Avoiding opportunities that can result in achieving your best involves preventing yourself from what you really want. You are procrastinating, doubting your abilities and destroying yourself in order not to succeed; you are stopping yourself from moving forward in life. Very often people, who are afraid of success, do succeed, however very slowly and they pay the price emotionally and mentally. Practicing self-loathing and self-sabotaging for years need plenty of time, patience and mindfulness to be turned to the reverse. Yet, it is possible to have a healthy relationship with success. First of all, accept your anxiety about achieving something great. It is okay to be nervous when facing new challenges. Second, differentiate between the very similar bodily responses to stress and excitement. Finally, apply mindfulness (e.g. meditation, journaling, etc.) regularly and practice self-love.


Sources:
http://money.cnn.com/ (Fortune Magazine, July 8, 1996)