Fear of Success
Fear is one of the most common emotions we feel as humans. So many of us use it as an excuse not to do something we were truly meant to do. In fact, fear is responsible for most of what we don’t do in our lives. When you fear something, your brain is actually working exactly the way it's supposed to. It's keeping you safe. But fear is not a valid reason to avoid taking action.
What is Fear?
As humans, we’re wired for survival from the day we’re born. In the not-so-distant past, fear was necessary so that we could run away from things that were trying to eat us. It served us in many ways—and it still does today.
Fear is what prevents us from running straight into traffic. It keeps us from driving recklessly down the street. But it also causes us to have irrational fears that hold us back from the things we actually want to do in life.
Why Do People Fear Success?
It can be difficult for most people to understand the fear of success. After all, we tend to think about success as the dream or ultimate goal in life. If we can just be successful, we’ll finally have “made it.” But for many people, there’s a certain anxiety associated with success, and it can come from a number of different places.
Some are worried their friends won’t like them anymore after they become successful. This is especially prominent in those who have not made much money for a long time. They’ve made friends who are in the same socioeconomic group as they are, and they’re afraid their friends won’t understand the success.
Others may be afraid of change, even if it is for the better. It’s human nature to fear change, especially if we’ve tried something in the past and failed. We tend to go back to our comfort zone and stay there. But there’s no growth this way. In addition to the change, there are added pressures that come with success—financially, socially, etc.
And some worry about how success might change them as a person. If they grew up in a lower- or middle-class family, they may be worried about how their family will perceive them. Will their family like who they’ve become? Will they like who they’ve become?
How to Overcome the Fear of Success
When you can accept that fear will inevitably be a part of your life, you can acknowledge it and move forward. Most of the fear that you feel comes directly from a thought in your mind… and in most cases, that thought is irrational.
If you’re feeling the fear of success, there are several things you can do to overcome that fear. First, try to understand where this fear is coming from. It can be extremely helpful to write down all your thoughts when you think about the fear of success. This is called a thought download, and it can make it easier for you to process the origin of your fear.
Next, run a model. What’s a model? We’re glad you asked. The Self Coaching Model is a tool that can help you solve any problem you have—including fear of success. The basic idea of the Model is that your thoughts create your feelings, your feelings create your actions, and your actions create your results. So if your current feeling is fear, determining the thoughts that are creating those feelings can make all the difference. You can learn more about the Model here.
Before you can overcome your fear of success, it’s important that you accept that fear will be part of your life. This is critical in helping you move forward. Fear isn’t a stop sign in your life. You don’t need to be fearless in order to take action and put yourself out there. Just do it. In fact, taking action while you’re recognizing your fear can be powerful.
It’s also important to understand that fear comes from a thought we have in our mind, and most of these thoughts are irrational. Think about that for a second. If you are creating your own fear with your mind, your mind can also overcome that same feeling.
How to Start Feeling Differently About Being Successful
First and foremost, it’s important that you feel the fear instead of pushing it away. Give yourself the opportunity to experience it and realize it’s not as bad as you might’ve thought. When you take time to feel the fear, you will recognize that it’s nothing more than a vibration in your body. Allow yourself to feel the vibration, let it pass, and move on.
Next, you need to manage your mind and the thoughts that you’re having. Knowing that your thoughts about being successful could be sabotaging your success is a terrifying realization; yet, recognizing that you have control over these thoughts if you learn how to properly manage your mind is key to moving forward. And with the right tools, you can control exactly what you think, how you feel, the actions you take, and the results you achieve. There is so much power in that.
When you can redirect the thoughts that are telling you that you won’t have your friends once you become successful or your family will look at you differently or you won’t be able to handle the pressure, everything changes. You can replace those thoughts with different ones like you will be able to help more people if you gain financial success or you can offer more jobs when your business becomes a success. This will create excitement where there was once fear.
Once you’ve felt the fear and redirected your thoughts, it’s time to take action. This doesn’t mean your fear is gone or your fearful thoughts have disappeared completely; it just means you’re moving forward anyway. Learning to take action while you’re still feeling fear is an invaluable skill. When you’re able to take action, despite the fear, you’re able to put yourself out there in ways you never thought you could. This is when you start to see real results. This is when life gets really fun. Are you ready to put yourself out there?
To learn more about the fear of success and how you can overcome any problem you’re struggling with, join Self Coaching Scholars.
Brooke Castillo is the CEO and founder of The Life Coach School. Brooke has coached thousands of clients individually and in groups to improve their lives, their weight, their businesses, and their careers. She is a Master Certified Life and Weight Coach who provides an example of what is possible. She also hosts one of the most highly rated podcasts on iTunes: The Life Coach School Podcast.