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Listen to this blog post:

Are you afraid of success?

Let me tell you another true story.

I was talking to a female friend who wanted to start a new business but she keeps avoiding taking the necessary steps to do so.

I asked her if she was afraid of being successful.  She said yes.

According to Heathline, “fear of success” is a real thing and is “referred to as ‘success anxiety’ or ‘success phobia.’ It’s even been called ‘achievemephobia.’

Fear of success is in part about how being fearful about how other people will react to your success.  How your spouse, your children, your family, your friends, you co-workers, etc. will react.

Fear of success is especially relevant to many women.

Again according to Healthline, “Women are discouraged from appearing self-promotional or aggressive in favor of modesty and compliance with gender norms. Some women fear that success will lead to attacks on their femininity or being labeled unlikable and underserving.  Women also tend be socially penalized for being successful and this creates ‘backlash avoidance’ and a creates fear of success.”

Fear of success also makes many women experience what is called the “imposter syndrome.”  With success comes additional attention, and many women fear they will not be able to handle the attention, live up to the expectations of success and may even feel they don’t deserve to be successful because of current pressure from people in their lives, their prior life experiences, traumas they experienced, childhood programming, etc.

Of course, Fear of success is not limited to women and many men also suffer from the fear of success.

Fear of success is also a responsibility problem.  When you are successful, you have to accept responsibility and be accountable for all your actions.  That is a very scary situation for many people.

Fear of success is very similar but very different than the fear of failure.

“Fear of Failure becomes Fear of Success for those who Never Try Anything New.”

The Late Dr. Wayne Dyer

My friend went on to tell me that whenever she thought about starting a new business she found reasons to procrastinate.

This makes sense because fear of success can cause you to procrastinate because you are afraid you to complete the necessary tasks to make you successful.

According to Dr. Tim Pychyl and other physiological researchers, procrastination is NOT a time management issue. Procrastination is instead an emotional management issue.

The emotions generated by a fear of success include, anxiety, anger, disappointment, embarrassment, sadness, shame, etc. need to be effectively managed.

To effectively manage the emotions of success you need to understand that succeeding and failing at something has an actual physical effect on your brain.

When you succeed at something, your brain releases endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin, which provides empowering feelings and emotions, such as peace, happiness, well-being, etc.

In stark contrast, when you fail at something, your brain releases cortisol, which provides dis-empowering feelings and emotions such as anxiety, depression, irritability, etc.

How you do manage your own fear of success?

  1. Create a list of micro-steps with a time frame for completion.  Create a list of micro-steps with a desired time frame to complete it to use to accomplish a goal on your desired pathway to success.  Each micro-step should be manageable and include flexibility on any assigned time frame to complete it to avoid triggering any negation emotions that could prevent you from becoming successful.  For example, if you were going to start a new business and desired to feature it on social media, one micro-step may be to read the instructions on how to set-up and use a social media account within the next five days during your lunch break at work.  If I cannot accomplish this micro-task in five days during your lunch break at work, your will accomplish it during this weekend.  Such a micro-step with a time frame of five days and flexibility for two more days, allows you to complete the micro-step without triggering any negative emotions.
  2. Start each micro-step with the emotion of courage.  David R. Hawkins, MD, PhD in his book, Power vs. Force, published in 1995, examined the energetic frequency levels of human consciousness as they pertain to a variety of different human emotions.  He used kinesiological muscle testing to determine the energetic frequencies of human emotions. The emotion of “courage” is the crossover point between negative and positive emotions and is a tipping point emotion.  Check in with yourself and ask yourself this question: “What emotions are occurring in me right now as I start this micro-step?”  If you are experiencing any negative emotions, such as anxiety, anger, despair, fear, guilt, procrastination, sadness, etc., shift to the emotion of courage to start and complete your micro-step.  If the gap is not too large, shift past the emotion of courage to more positive emotions such as curiosity, excitement, joy, happiness, etc. to get your brain to release endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin, to reenforce empowering feelings to make you successful.
  3. Use discernment to fairly evaluate the completion of your micro-steps.  Document the completion of each of your micro-steps in a dedicated journal to track your success journey.  Evaluate the completion of your micro-steps with discernment instead of judgement.  Discernment includes perceiving and observing a situation to obtain the truth and understanding of the situation.  In contrast, judgement includes perceiving a situation by forming a personal opinion about the situation, based on the influence of the behavior of others, on yourself.   To apply discernment to your micro-step, look at any situation, event or person associated with your micro-step from the perspective of a neutral observer.  A neutral observer is someone who perceives a situation, event or person from a new higher point of view and a higher and expanded level of consciousness without forming or accepting any judgements or criticisms of the situation, event or person, from others or themselves.  Applying discernment from the point of view of a neutral observer allows you to fairly evaluate what happen during the completion of your micro-step and allow you to adjust how you complete you next micro-step moving forward on your journey to successful.

Managing your fear of success will allow you to create a positive impact in your own life and truly create the successes in your life you truly desire.

Out There on the Edge of Everything®…

Stephen Lesavich, PhD

Copyright © 2023, by Stephen Lesavich, PhD.  All rights reserved.

Certified solution-focused life coach and experienced business coach.