Is the Fear of Success Holding You Back?

Have you ever thought that success might actually be a little scary? And a fear of success may be keeping you from the success that you work so hard to achieve. It’s a bit paradoxical, isn’t it? We often associate fear with failure, but the fear of success can be a sneaky barrier that holds us back from reaching our full potential.

We need to examine those negative feelings we may have, and may not even realize that exist before we can overcome them. How many of these fears do you recognize?

Understanding the Fear

People can have a fear of success for various reasons, and it often stems from deep-rooted psychological and emotional factors. And rather than thinking it is unusual, it is often very common. Here are a few reasons why people may experience a fear of success:

Fear of Change: Success often brings about significant changes in one’s life, which can be scary. Taking new opportunities, taking on more responsibility, or facing higher expectations can be overwhelming. And if you have good relationships with friends and family now, it can be unsettling thinking how that might change as well.

Fear of Failure: Paradoxically, the fear of success can be closely tied to the fear of failure. We often say “what if…” and some of us will interpret that as “what if I fail”.

Achieving success means putting oneself out there and taking risks. And with those new expectations, it is only natural that we might fear making mistakes.

Fear of Judgment: Success can bring attention, recognition, and increased visibility, which can lead to a fear of being judged or criticized by others. Have the every heard the expression “The higher you climb, the farther the fall”?

And when people get attention for attaining a new level of success, it adds anxiety. The fear of being seen as a fraud or being envied can create a sense of vulnerability and trigger self-doubt.

Fear of Losing Identity: Success often brings changes in roles, relationships, and self-perception. Individuals may fear that achieving success will alter their sense of self or disconnect them from their existing support networks. This fear of losing their identity or relationships can hold them back from embracing success.

Self-Worth and Imposter Syndrome: Some individuals struggle with feelings of unworthiness and believe they don’t deserve success. Imposter syndrome, where one feels like a fraud despite evidence of their competence, can undermine their confidence and create a fear of success.

Comfort Zone and Fear of the Unknown: Success requires individuals to step outside their comfort zones, take risks, and face uncertainty. Some people find comfort in the familiar and fear the challenges and changes that come with success.

Perfectionism and Pressure: The pressure to maintain success or meet higher expectations can be overwhelming. Fear of not being able to live up to the standards they’ve set or the fear of making mistakes can hinder individuals from embracing success.

Childhood Conditioning and Beliefs: Past experiences, upbringing, and societal influences can shape one’s beliefs and attitudes towards success. Messages received during childhood or cultural norms may instill fear or guilt associated with achievement.

Impact of the Fear of Success

Now, let’s talk about how this fear affects us. Picture this: you have all this potential, but the fear of success acts like an invisible glass ceiling, keeping you from reaching for the stars. It holds you back from grabbing opportunities for growth, taking risks, and stepping outside your cozy comfort zone. The fear of success shakes your confidence and makes you doubt your own abilities, leaving you feeling unfulfilled and longing for what could’ve been.

Unpacking the Fear of Success

To tackle this fear head-on, we need to dig deeper and understand its roots. Each of us has our own fears and limiting beliefs that feed into the fear of success. That nagging perfectionism and that pesky imposter syndrome often fuel the fear, setting unrealistic expectations and making us doubt ourselves.

And let’s not forget about society and culture! They love to have their say, shaping our idea of success and creating fears of judgment or isolation. Here’s a great article on 10 Reasons You Have a Fear of Success.

Overcoming the Fear of Success

Alright, it’s time to conquer this fear! The first step is to change our mindset and see success as an opportunity for growth. Let’s start by setting achievable goals and taking small steps toward success. It’s all about building confidence and showing ourselves that we can do it. Embracing failure as part of the learning process is crucial because it reduces the fear of making mistakes and allows us to learn and grow from them.

Empowering Success Mindset

Let’s talk about developing a mindset that embraces success. Celebrate every little accomplishment along the way! It’s important to acknowledge and appreciate your progress, no matter how small.

And challenges are just opportunities in disguise, right? Embrace them as chances for growth and see how resilient and determined you can be. Remember to be kind to yourself—self-compassion is key. Surround yourself with a support system that lifts you up and helps you face your fears.

Do you recognize any of these fears? We all have fears of some kind, and sometimes we don’t even realize that the fears exist. It takes a conscious effort to identify and then design steps to eliminate those negative thoughts that will prevent us from success.

One tip to start recognizing your fears and what may hold you back is to create both a vision board and a fear board. On the vision board, include all the goals you may have for the future. On the fear board, for each of your goals identify one or two fears you may have about being able to achieve that goal. This helps you recognize what is holding you back and you can then take steps to overcome those fears.

If this is something you want to work on, you can pick up the journal CONQUEOR FEAR OF SUCCESS JOURNAL. As a reader, use the CODE FEAR923 to save $10. It can help you reflect on your own thoughts and feelings about success. And comes with Commercial Use Rights so you can rebrand, edit and sell in your shop.

I would love to hear if you have created a fear board and what fears you may have about achieving success. Sometimes, just verbalizing the fear minimizes it. Drop a comment or email me at

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