A lot of us have heard or used the term “afraid of success”, but very few of us truly understand what it means.
When we say someone is “afraid of success”, we don’t really mean it in the same way someone is afraid of spiders, or of flying on an airplane. Those fears are very much conventional fears, a sensation of anxiety which rises when we are exposed to these things, and we must fight very hard to continue as normal.
Fear of success is different in that it isn’t truly the success we fear. If you gave someone the success, they would not be afraid any more, would they?
Rather, what they are afraid of is change.
You see, in order to succeed you need to submit yourself to a change of state. Let’s imagine you have Goal A, and you are working towards it. You are seconds away from completing it. But something holds you back.
You have enjoyed the process of working towards Goal A. You enjoyed the journey. The anticipation has been almost as rewarding as Goal A looks, and if you finish this, there will be no more anticipation. You aren’t sure what your next goal would be.
So you stall. You have found a place in life where you are comfortable, and you want to drag it out. You’re not scared of success: You’re scared of finishing the job and not having anything to do that is quite so enjoyable.
Put this way, a fear of success is perfectly rational and normal. But you can’t let it hold you back. Change is part of life. Success is part of life. You have to succeed so you can move to the next goal.
To overcome your fear of success, you need to change your mindset. A mindfulness exercise comes in useful here. Every time you have a choice before you, rather than choose what feels most comfortable, ask what will have the better pay off. And always choose the one with the biggest reward. Whether it’s a big decision or a small one, always ask yourself whether you are making the best decision or the easiest one.
Change will happen whether you want it to or not, but where change goes depends on you.
Source: Positive Psychology Coaching (Ian Tuhovsky)