How to overcome fear of success
Do you find yourself stressing over things that go right? Do you self-sabotage, delay or distract yourself, make excuses for lack of progress, or even just seem to forget to take action when you had planned to do so? Often the problem is that change, even when it’s positive, can be scary and stressful. You might think you want to make more money, get in better shape, or improve your social life but a small part of your unconscious mind might be putting up barriers and obstacles to stop you getting there.
The key to effectively dealing with this fear is the same as with any other: go at it from as many different angles as you can.
How to defeat your fear of success*:
1. Expand your comfort zone gradually.
We have an internal comfort level for different areas of our life, and we tend to want to stay where we’re comfortable. Beyond the comfort zone is the learning zone, where we feel challenged but we’re coping. Beyond that is the panic zone. It’s counterproductive – just too scary – to go straight for a level of success that's in your panic zone. Set smaller goals in the learning zone first, and your comfort zone will enlarge to embrace them. So will your learning zone, bringing the ultimate goal into the realms of possibility.
2. Reject unfair criticism from other people.
All of us like to be liked, and it’s common to worry about what others will think or say if we’re successful. If someone criticises you think honestly about whether they have a point. If they do, do something about it. If not, accept that it’s the other person’s issue; they might be jealous or resentful but that’s coming from them and not you.
3. Reject unfair criticism from yourself.
This one can be a big deal. Do you have a small, quiet voice in your head that tells you you’re not worthy of success or don’t deserve it? Or that you’re an imposter who has got your success by luck instead of skill and that one day you’ll be found out? Often this internal voice is your harshest critic but try to make friends with it. Speak as kindly to yourself as you do to others and, if you find this difficult, a therapist or stress management coach can help.
4. Don’t avoid failure.
Afraid of failing? Why? (I have some suggestions about that, here. Fear of failure and fear of success can often go together, so read that article too.)
Success is often a result of trial and error, and you’ll undoubtedly fail at least a few times on your way to success. Stephen King was refused by thirty publishers before his first book was sold, J K Rowling was rejected by twelve of them. Colonel Sanders was sixty-two years old and had been rejected over a thousand times by restaurants before he made a success of his chicken recipe, and Walt Disney was fired from his first job for having ‘no good ideas’. The quicker you fail, the quicker you’ll find success.
5. Keep your mind focussed on being successful.
Spend a few minutes each day imagining how you will feel, look and experience the world when you have success to help it feel natural and familiar.
Use affirmations to get yourself thinking about success in positive ways.
Make an inspiration board – real or virtual – where you keep images, words, quotes, and other reminders of what success means to you.
6. Get help if you need it.
Don't think you have to struggle with this alone, Hypnotherapy can help.
The fear of success might not always sound very logical, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t real. If you’re struggling to take your life to a new level, follow these tips to prevent fear of success standing in your way.
You don't have to allow the fear of success to limit the rest of your life. You can choose to overcome it.
* if these steps don’t improve things there may be something more at work than a simple fear of failure. Sometimes anxiety, depression and other health issues can be a factor, so visit your GP or contact me about using hypnotherapy to help you.
Debbie Waller is a professional hypnotherapist, specialising in stress, anxiety and related issues. She also offers EMDR which is used for trauma, PTSD, phobias and OCD and publishes hypnotherapy-for-ibs.co.uk for those interested in using hypnotherapy to relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Debbie owns a multi-accredited hypnotherapy school, Yorkshire Hypnotherapy Training and offers further training for qualified therapists via CPD Expert. She is the author of Their Worlds, Your Words and The Hypnotherapist's Companion, editor and contributor to the online magazine Hypnotherapy Training & Practitioner, and co-author of The Hypnotherapy Handbook.
For more information on any of these services, phone 01977 678593.
Researcher & drafter: Rachel Waller.