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"I'm Afraid to Succeed!"

Updated on August 11, 2011

It's nothing new


Are You Afraid to Succeed?

Have you ever said those words: "I'm afraid to succeed" ? You may not have admitted it to yourself, but if you are one of those people who hesitates to learn, attempt or try anything new, you may actually have developed a fear of success. Why does this happen?

As children, we attempt new things, learn new things, everyday. We are not afraid of anything. Fear is a learned response when our actions have negative consequences. When children are learning to walk, and fall down, the usual response is to look to an adult for a model of response. If our caregiver helps us react positively to our mistake, is responsive to our needs, we learn that mistakes are just "bumps on the road of life" and we try again.

Many individuals, however, do not learn a positive way to approach setbacks, or negative events. When two or more negative events occur in a short space of time, it can be overwhelming to an individual who sees it as a pattern of bad events in their life. They may refer to it as "bad luck" or wonder why "bad things always happen to me". Curiously, fear of success and fear of failure are very similar. Both can paralyze until they are confronted.


Fear of failure and fear of success are both paralyzing emotions. Both involve the decision making process. One develops a fear of failure when considering doing something new or unfamiliar. Fear of failure could be fear of change, of making mistakes or of being embarrassed. Fear of success is also based on fear of change, the possibility of failing, of having attention drawn to oneself when one does succeed. Both fear of failure and fear of success can lead to indecision, to procrastination, to total inaction. For others, they may reason that keeping the status quo, however undesirable, is better than getting their hopes up and later being disappointed.

Learning to Overcome Fear of Success

Since fear of succeeding is a learned behavior, it only makes sense that it can be unlearned, or that new and better reactions or behaviors can be learned to take its place. So how can we teach ourselves to not be afraid of success? What can we tell ourselves or what exercises can we perform that will allow us to move past the indecision and procrastination? The following are some questions to ask yourself to begin the process:

  • do I honestly believe I deserve success?
  • why do I deserve success?
  • do I think that my success will change me or my situation in unwanted ways?

Many good decisions are not made simply because we have a vague idea of the situation. Unfamiliar situations and settings are uncomfortable. So take a few minutes to relax and really visualize the success you will have. When you have made the decision to move forward and succeed, in what ways will your life change? What will your day to day life look like once you have succeeded? The more detail you can imagine about the future, the better. Visualizing your success and what it will mean for you will allow you to become more comfortable with the idea of change. Once you have "lived" the change in your mind, your mind begins to accept it as more real, and you become more comfortable with and accepting of the change. Use this strength of the mind to make your life a better place. It really is true that if you can imagine something, you can achieve it. Your mind is that powerful. Your mind can help you overcome your fear of success.


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