While you’re probably inclined to instantly and undoubtedly answer fear of failure and are most likely raising an eyebrow thinking nobody would actually be afraid of success, you have to know fear of success is just as real as fear of failure. When it comes to our fears, I believe there is more than what meets the eye and we might have subconscious fears that we’re not even aware of. When thinking about your fears, I’m sure there are some that quickly come to mind like fear of dying, of public speaking, of snakes or some other creepy creatures, etc., but did you ever think you might have other deeply hidden fears that you may not be aware of?
A lot of people have a subconscious fear of success that (ironically or not) keeps them from achieving just that – the success they’re so hungry for but that always seems to be slipping right through their fingers. If you find you’ve never really had success no matter how hard you’ve tried, you might be suffering from fear of success. Or failure. The symptoms for the two are pretty much intertwined. Be honest with yourself: how many opportunities have you passed because of your fears? How many times have you told yourself that you’re not good enough to accomplish certain tasks or how many times have you procrastinated things you knew were essential to your success by making up all kinds of excuses that sounded plausible in your mind? How many times have you prepared yourself to take the plunge but haven’t had the courage to actually do it? You might think these are unimportant and you’ve done everything you could, but these are the things that actually keep you from being successful. You’re setting up limiting decisions for yourself and blocking you own way to success.
Ok, now that we’ve established you’re your own enemy, let’s see what are some of the reasons behind this fear:
1. You feel that you don’t deserve success. For some reason or another, you value other people more than you value yourself. You think your friends or colleagues put in more work hours than you do and they are not successful, so why should you? Maybe you’re not working as hard as they are or you don’t have the same level of training or education they have, but why should you feel guilty if you have a brilliant idea that can get you to success faster? Did you ever think that your success or your ideas could actually bring more value to the world or that your success could give other people jobs? Should you feel guilty just because you’ve had more “luck”?
2. You’re afraid of unfamiliarity. Trying new things is scary and we sometimes prefer to stay in familiar situations and surroundings instead of taking risks. Staying in that warm cozy spot seems like a safer bet, but do you really want to keep struggling with your finances your entire life just because you’re afraid? Sure, you could lose some money and hit a few failures, but it is hard to get to success with no failure at all. But failures mean experience and when you’ll finally get successful it will feel all the much sweeter.
3. You have a negative attitude towards rich and successful people. You feel like rich people are selfish and greedy, that they feed off the back of poor people, that most of them got rich out of luck or without deserving it, that it’s not fair for them to have so much money while there are so many poor people in the world. And some of them probably are like that, but think about it, how would you feel about yourself if you were rich? Would you have the same negative attitude about yourself, thinking that you got there without deserving it, thinking that you’ve somehow turned selfish and greedy overnight? How can you get to success when you think you’d hate the person you would become? And how could you help others when you don’t have success yourself or the means to do it? You cannot help the poor if you are poor yourself! Wouldn’t you rather all that money was in your hands instead of in the hands of a greedy selfish person? Think of how you could help others if you had all that money.
4. Fear of becoming a different person and your family & friends not liking you. Are you afraid that if you become rich and successful you will change as a person and you might end up alienating your friends and family? Or you don’t know how they will react to your success? Becoming rich does not change who you are at your core. The experiences will help you grow as a person and have an effect on the way you think, act and behave, but they will not change who you are. Chances are your success will most likely change the people around you rather than change you. If your friends become envious they’re not actually your real friends. Sure, you might get hurt, but at least you’ll know whom your real friends are and whom you can count on. Just remember, envy reflects the problems they have with themselves, not with you.
5. Obtaining success will also imply you’ll have to maintain it. You’re afraid sooner or later you’ll end up back where you started or worse, so why risk it in the first place? Your fear of not being able to sustain your success will not allow you to get there in the first place. I have only one thing to say: no risk, no gain.
Maybe these are not the reasons behind your fear, maybe your have other personal things holding you back, but just admit to yourself that you’re just as likely to be afraid of success as you’re afraid of failure, embrace the idea and ask yourself what the real reasons might be. No matter what they are, acknowledging them is a step forward and will help you face your fears more easily and realistically.