Fear of Success

Martin Cole

Do you have a fear of success?

Fear of success is a complex psychological phenomenon that can subtly influence various aspects of a person's life, often without their conscious awareness. While it may seem counterintuitive, many individuals unknowingly sabotage their own progress due to this fear. Let's explore how the fear of success manifests and its far-reaching effects.

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What Is Fear of Success?

Fear of success isn't a literal fear of being successful. Rather, it's an apprehension about the potential consequences and changes that come with achieving success. This fear often stems from childhood experiences, self-doubt, or concerns about social repercussions

Signs of Fear of Success

The fear of success can manifest in various ways:

  • Hiding natural talents and abilities
  • Discomfort with compliments and praise
  • Self-sabotage when things are going well
  • Procrastination or perfectionism
  • Feeling like an impostor
  • Anxiety about becoming arrogant or self-centered

Subtle Ways Fear of Success Affects Your Life

1. Chronic Underachievement

People with a fear of success may consistently perform below their potential, feeling frustrated that less talented individuals seem to achieve more easily.

2. Difficulty Setting and Pursuing Goals

You might find yourself changing goals frequently or struggling to commit to long-term objectives. This can lead to a pattern of starting projects but never completing them.

3. Relationship Challenges

Fear of success can impact personal relationships. You might subconsciously push away supportive partners or friends, fearing that your success could change the dynamics of these relationships.

4. Career Stagnation

In the professional realm, you may avoid promotions or challenging assignments, preferring to stay in a comfortable but unfulfilling position.

5. Financial Self-Sabotage

Even when opportunities for financial growth present themselves, you might engage in behaviours that undermine your economic stability, such as overspending or avoiding investment opportunities.

6. Health and Self-Care Issues

The stress and anxiety associated with fear of success can manifest physically, leading to neglect of self-care and potential health problems.

7. Creativity Blockages

For artists, writers, and other creative professionals, fear of success can lead to creative blocks or a reluctance to share work publicly

Overcoming Fear of Success

Recognizing these subtle impacts is the first step towards overcoming fear of success. Here are some strategies to help:

  • Develop self-awareness by examining your thoughts and behaviors around success.
  • Challenge negative beliefs about success and its consequences.
  • Set small, achievable goals to build confidence gradually.
  • Seek support from a therapist or coach who can help you work through these fears.
  • Practice self-compassion and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small.


Fear of success can have profound and subtle effects on various aspects of life, from career progression to personal relationships. By recognizing these impacts and taking steps to address them, you can unlock your full potential and embrace success without fear. Remember, success doesn't have to come at the cost of your values or relationships – it's possible to achieve your goals while maintaining balance and authenticity in your life.

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