Many people will be aware that we often fear failure. It might help us learn but it doesn’t feel good and it can effectively keep us in our safe zone and prevent us from taking the kind of risks we need to take, in both business and life, if we are to reach our true potential.
But a fear of success can, in fact, be even more damaging. One of the difficulties with a fear of success is that it is likely to be completely subconscious so we don’t see any need to address it because of course, we don’t even know it’s there.
So before we look at how to deal with a fear of success how do you find out if it is something that is having an impact on you?
As we know the problem with subconscious fears is that they are subconscious but we all get windows into our subconscious – so start tuning in to what you might think about success subconsciously even if you are actively chasing it. Good ways to become aware of our subconscious thoughts are times when we are busy doing other things, like driving or clearing up, but our mind can be free to ‘wander’. What thoughts come to mind – if you were to imagine your success – maybe receiving an award – would part of you be cringing or too afraid to go and claim it. Start listening to your internal ‘chatter’ about success. Even while you talk about it is there a tiny voice saying ‘you don’t really want that’.
Sometimes reading this could start some chatter like oh ‘that doesn’t apply to you’, ‘you really want successes’, ‘you aren’t afraid of it’. If that is the case then at some level you probably have at least a resistance to success, and that might well stem from a subconscious fear.
Why would anyone fear success?
Often with subconscious mind-sets and fears, they stem from what others have told us or what we have seen others experience or sometimes from an experience or experiences that we ourselves have had, that hasn’t been entirely positive.
Maybe success brought problems for someone, success brings changes and perhaps someone you know became successful yet wasn’t happy. Undoubtedly success brings expectations and some people may be afraid of the increased responsibility that success might bring. Or possibly part of you is afraid that relationships will change or that people may be jealous of your success. But far and away the biggest fear is that somehow we won’t be up to the challenge or that success will somehow show us to be lacking. Self -doubt can be crippling.
In many ways, it doesn’t matter where it comes from if you got the message that it wasn’t safe to be successful then whatever you are doing to find success you brain will be sabotaging your efforts in order to keep you safe.
What can be done?
Thankfully you don’t have to live with this fear sabotaging all your efforts – follow the simple steps below to start to make changes
- As with any problem identifying that it exists is the first step. It can be helpful to write down or say out loud all the things you think about when you think about success – that will start to bring into your conscious mind some of those subconscious fears. Are you worried people will be jealous or criticize you or just be different with you in some way? Maybe you don’t actually think you deserve success or that you haven’t worked hard enough for it, or that your skills, service or product aren’t that good. Write it all down or say it all out loud.
- Next you can state the truth, because of course those things above aren’t true. You are as deserving as the next person to be successful. It may need further self-development but that is perfectly normal when people become successful. So again write down or say out loud to yourself some counter truths make them as specific as you can to the ‘fears’ you identified…
‘I deserve to be successful’
‘I can handle success’
‘People I care about will be glad for me not jealous’
Literally go through and counter each statement that stems from fear with a positive one.
- Take some counter actions. The way the brain sabotages us is very varied so if you have been a procrastinator – then stop and actually get on and ‘do’ what you need to. If you shy away from advertising or greater social media visibility then give yourself some specific goals to achieve in this area. Maybe it is networking meetings that you just never seem to get to – well you know why now, so you can make a point of NOT cancelling the next one.
- Try visualising your success and if you find the old fears creeping back in, create a positive scene in your imagination and always replace the one where the fear crops up with this new one.
Like any problem that we may have had for some time it is unlikely to be gone in a minute but if you keep at it you will find you can overcome it and move on to find the success you have been dreaming about.
About the author
An author, speaker, coach and consultant I delight in helping people achieve success in their life and business. Often that means changing mind sets and getting rid of those mind sets that can be a block to success and happiness. I run regular Mind Design workshops and Business Builder Retreats you can find out more at http://attunedsuccess.co.uk