Is The Fear of Success Holding You Back?

For those of you who subscribe to the Blog, you may have received an email asking you about the fear that keeps you stuck. The fear that holds you back from living the life of your dreams. I’ve received thousands of responses from people of all ages from around the world (Thank you!) While the specific stories may differ, the same 3 fears pop up time each time:

  1. The fear of being alone.
  2. The fear of failure.
  3. The fear of success.

Today, I’d like to explore the fear of success. As the flip-side of the fear of failure, it often leads to self-sabotage, self-depreciation, and ironically, failure. Let me explain:

When I first started my business, I was afraid of failure. The Forbes statistic that 80% of small businesses fail in the first 18 months was ingrained in my mind. Couple that with a NYC rent and the fear of failure became a constant companion, traveling with me everywhere I went. Any decision or action was clouded by this fear. While this alone was a problem, the bigger issue was my inability to accept success. Any time something good would happen: a new article, a new client, or a new media opportunity, I’d get stuck. Having set myself up for the worst case scenario at all times, I couldn’t accept that good things were happening. Success made me anxious and uncomfortable because it challenged every belief I had about my situation, my life, and myself.

Initially, in an unconscious attempt to return to my more comfortable (yet uncomfortable) reality, I’d self-sabotage. Then, when reality was more aligned with my limiting belief system, I’d feel safe and unhappy again. WTF?!

Here’s why that happened:

  1. As humans, we’d rather be right than be happy. We tend to prefer the safety and certainty of a world we know rather than change our beliefs, even when it’s a positive change.
  2. We feel undeserving. When our reality shifts quicker than our limiting beliefs, we may feel that we can’t accept abundance. As a result, we shun it.
  3. We’re afraid it won’t last so we find evidence and take actions that will confirm and recreate our fears on our timeline telling ourselves, “see, I knew it wouldn’t last. I was right all along.”

So what do you do about this?

  1. Stop judging it. Labeling things as good or bad often gets in the way of our ability to experience it. 
  2. Write it down as evidence. We have antenna that selectively pick up information that confirms our worst fears. Begin amassing evidence to the contrary.
  3. Savor it. Notice the feelings, the sights, and the sounds you associate with your success. 
  4. Create a new reality. How does this success challenge your belief about yourself? For example, when I get an especially thoughtful email from a reader, I soak it in and save it. I reread it often to reprogram my belief system from “I’m a failure” to “I’m helping others live their best lives.”
  5. Prioritize self-care. Even good transitions are stressful. Be sure to maintain the self-care practices that make you feel your best.

You deserve to be successful and happy. If you’re ready to get out of your own way, click here.