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What Is Fear of Success?

What Is Fear of Success?

Fear of success is the anxiety and concern about the potential changes and consequences that come with achieving success. It stems from our expectations of what success entails and how it might affect our lives.

Understanding Expectations

We navigate life guided by expectations:

- We expect cars to stop at a crosswalk.

- We expect spaghetti and meatballs to taste a certain way.

- We expect friendly interactions with smiling individuals.

These expectations extend to our views on success. Fear of success often arises from beliefs about what success means and whether it aligns with our self-image, values, and life priorities. For instance, if you believe that successful people neglect their families, and family is a top priority for you, this belief might subconsciously hold you back.

Origins of the Fear of Success

**1. Childhood Experiences:**

Experiences from our youth can significantly shape our attitudes toward success. For example, a client of mine was identified as gifted early on. Her parents pushed her into numerous activities, leaving her little time to enjoy her childhood. She learned to associate her talents with stress and loss of freedom, leading to chronic underachievement later in life.

**2. Childhood Trauma:**

Trauma can also play a significant role. Another client had an older brother who struggled academically while she excelled. Her parents made her feel guilty for her achievements, fearing she would overshadow her brother. This instilled a deep-seated fear of success, causing her to sabotage her potential to avoid feeling like she was doing something wrong.

**3. Parental Views on Success:**

Our beliefs are often modeled after significant figures in our lives. If your parents viewed successful people negatively, you might adopt those same attitudes. For instance, a client admired her successful uncle but felt guilty about her own achievements because her parents criticized his behavior.

**4. Experiences with Successful People:**

Interactions with various types of successful people can shape our perceptions. If you only encounter selfish or arrogant successful individuals, you might fear becoming like them. It’s crucial to seek role models who embody the values you cherish.

Manifestations of Fear of Success

Fear of success can manifest in numerous ways:

- Hiding your talents.

- Avoiding wealth and success.

- Discomfort with compliments.

- Self-sabotage.

- Anxiety about becoming arrogant.

- Imposter syndrome.

- Procrastination.

Impacts on Life

Fear of success can:

- Lead to chronic underachievement.

- Cause frustration and resentment.

- Lower your expectations and ambitions.

- Result in goal avoidance.

- Increase anxiety and procrastination.

- Lead to negative self-perception.

The Role of Avoidance

Avoidance strengthens and maintains fear. By avoiding situations that provoke anxiety, you reinforce the belief that these situations are dangerous. For instance, avoiding public speaking makes the fear more intense over time.

Identifying Avoidance Strategies

Recognize how you avoid your fear of success:

- Hiding talents.

- Procrastinating.

- Negative self-talk.

- Settling for uninspiring relationships.

- Making excuses.

Overcoming Fear of Success

**Increase Awareness:**

- Understanding your thoughts and behaviors is the first step.

- Reflect on why you act the way you do.


- Practice mindfulness to become aware of your thoughts and recognize that you are not your thoughts.

**Slow Down:**

- Be purposeful in acknowledging your actions and their motivations.

**Manage Stress:**

- Effective stress management can help you feel more in control and less fearful.

**Accept Fear:**

- Embrace fear as a natural part of growth. Don't aim to eliminate it but to work alongside it.

**Reframe Your Thoughts:**

- Challenge negative self-talk and replace it with empowering affirmations.

**Extinguish Fear Through Exposure:**

- Gradually expose yourself to feared situations to diminish anxiety.

**Take a Self-Help Program:**

- Engage in structured programs to develop courage and address limiting beliefs.

**Seek Professional Help:**

- Work with a coach to identify and overcome subconscious blind spots.


Fear of success is a common but manageable challenge. By understanding its origins and manifestations, and through deliberate strategies, you can overcome this fear and unlock your full potential. Remember, awareness and proactive steps are key to transforming fear into a driving force for success.



I Can Help in Developing A Plan For Self-Care

Do you want help developing a self-care plan that works for your own busy schedule? Do you want accountability in implementing a self-care plan? If you or someone you love is struggling to maintain optimal mental and emotional health, consider reaching out to Spiced Life Conversation Art Wellness Studio and Botanica. We are a Metro Atlanta, Conyers Georgia area. We are a coaching and counseling practice with empathetic, skilled counselors and recovery coaches who can help you set goals, develop a self-care routine, and move forward to build a more fulfilling life. Our team would be happy to work with you either just for a couple of sessions to develop and implement a Self-care plan or longer term to work toward overall better mental health within our membership site or other programs.

Dr. Nikki LeToya White
Dr. Nikki LeToya White

About The Author:

Dr. Nikki LeToya White MSEd-TL, Ph.D. RHN is the founder, director, and full-time board-certified trauma-informed nutritionist, folk herbalist, and wellness consultant at Spiced Life Conversation Art Wellness Studio and Botanica. She created Spiced Life Conversation, LLC Art Wellness Studio, and Botanica to provide the Metro Atlanta area with counseling and coaching services where clients are carefully matched with the right program for healing abandonment and childhood emotional neglect trauma that cause codependency, emotional eating, financial stress, and imposter syndrome as it relates to the fear of success and being abandon. We help you begin your emotional healing journey with ease. Recently, we have expanded to include an online membership site so we now provide support to people living all over the world. All of our recovery coaches provide at least one evidence-based treatment to assist in your recovery. Dr. White is a big proponent of self-care and helping people live a fulfilling life! She has been in full remission with both codependency and emotional binge eating disorder since 2016. In living a life in recovery from sugar addiction. I love my low-sugar balanced lifestyle.

Best Regard

Dr. Nikki LeToya White


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