• Fear of Success

     “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”-Winston Churchill

    Have you ever felt like you were about to get what you had wanted and worked so long for? Like you were on just on the verge of success? And then, somehow, it became out of reach. How did that happen? Is success all about luck? Does it have something to do with timing? Is it achieved through hard work? Perhaps it’s a combination of all of those things. But what is our part in either creating it or destroying it?
    Fear can get in the way of attaining success. It may be easier to acknowledge a fear of failure than a fear of becoming successful. Nobody wants to fail at a given task. Nobody wants to feel rejected. But most people would probably say that they want to be successful in life. Why would someone fear success if it is the ultimate goal? A fear of it does not seem rational….

    Why Do We Fear Success?
    When we fear success, we may be full of self-doubts. We may believe that we don’t t really deserve the success. A fear of failure and a fear of success can at times be interconnected. We may feel that on some basic level we are flawed, and that if we begin to get what we want, we will be incapable of sustaining it. We may believe that if success is reached, that there will be added responsibilities. We may fear that we will not be able to handle the success, that we will not be able to live up to other people expectations, and more importantly, our own. Or, we may fear that if we “outshine” others, then they will reject us out of jealousy, and  we will end up alone.

    We fear success because it is the unknown. What if what we are striving for will not ultimately make us happy? “If I only got this job, then I would be happy…If I could make more money, then everything in my life would be perfect, if I could just meet Mr. or Mrs. Right, then I would feel complete.” But what if we attained those goals, and yet were still left feeling dissatisfied?

    Introspection Can Be Uncomfortable:
    When you ask yourself what may happen if you reached your goals, it’s possible that you may come to some realizations. Perhaps you may come to understand that you are sabotaging yourself because on a subconscious level you don’t really want to achieve those goals. Maybe the cons outweigh the pros. Perhaps those are goals that are outdated, or ones that others wanted for you. This may be unsettling to discover.

    Or perhaps you will recognize that you truly would like to achieve those goals, but are afraid of failing along the way. Perhaps some part of you is afraid that are not worthy enough to get what you desire. Self-esteem issues may be getting in the way of your reaching your fullest potential. Do not be afraid to seek help. A therapist can help you to uncover some of the obstacles that are blocking your progress, and give you the tools to change the thoughts and behaviors that are holding you back from reaching your goals.

    When you picture success, what does it look like? Is there something you fear may happen if you become successful? Are there different scenarios of what can occur, different pictures you can paint for yourself that define success? Take some time to reflect. Make a list of your hopes and dreams. Visualize achieving them. Listen to your internal guide.

    What does success mean for you? I welcome any and all thoughts on this topic.


    Author: Dr. Masha Godkin,Psy.D, MFT  is a professor of counseling psychology, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of Ca. with an Online Therapy Practice, as well as a former child actor. One of her specialties is in addictive behavior and counseling those in the performing art professions. Visit  http://www.onlinetherapywith-dr-masha.com to learn about the Online Therapy service options that are available.

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