Fear of Success… Not!

There's no such thing as fear of success... it's the fear of failing once you succeed!

Fear sucks. It literally sucks all our ambition, confidence and trust into a black hole we come to know as our self-esteem.

I was once grocery shopping, pleasantly minding my own business when all of a sudden, I noticed an acquaintance standing at the end of the aisle, pondering spaghetti sauces. How intrusive... this is my supermarket! All at once, I found myself darting down the adjacent aisle, hoping not to have been discovered, just to preserve a few more moments of domestic anonymity.

And all the while, an inner bully taunted me with shudders of rejection and intimate panic at the very notion that I might be 'outed' in an unscripted vulnerable moment of a real life encounter!

As a clinician I was never clear what self-esteem really meant so I looked it up in my Pocket Oxford and it became clear all at once; derived from the Latin verb, aestimare, it means to estimate or compare. Who knew?

Of course, that's precisely how we torment ourselves with awful comparisons that evoke feelings of inadequacy, deficiency and deflation!

I soon discovered I was keeping good company... numerous vexed souls who would pour in through my office, declaring their afflictions with the dreaded plague of low self-esteem. It must be in epidemic worldwide proportions by now. I mean, how many friends of yours are blessed with bountifully soaring secure personalities?

It's as if it's the world's worst kept secret… none of us like ourselves that much in the depths of our core!

Horrible. We need to address this and fix it good and proper.

It may be one of the biggest misconceptions I've noticed over the years and I hear it from people all the time... "I can't do it... it's my fear of success!" Poppycock!! No one really fears success. We crave success, abundance, happiness, wealth, acknowledgment and praise. We yearn for unconditional love and acceptance, to be cherished, adored and flattered. But it's so terribly awkward and affronting, attempting to negotiate a way past the ominous bully of our self-esteem.

If you believe you are one of the afflicted, it's likely because you are afraid to take risks and worry about being judged or rejected if you fail. Well, guess what? No matter how much you strive for perfection and flawless eminence, there is always going to be someone out there who thinks you're a shmuck!


There's something deceptively comforting about our familiar failings. In fact, many of us would rather maintain this fruitless routine of fraternizing with the bully of low self-esteemville than risk confronting him head on and chasing him out of town!

We want to succeed, we just can't bear the thought of having all that success slip away again, once we finally make it! (Read that again)

So, what's the risk of confronting this bully disguised as the fear of success? He might make his perennial return to intimidate you again and again. Yet, it's always in our control to be the root of our own success and failings. No one to blame or avoid, no one to rescue us from the black hole of despondency; not even a search party looking for us. Ouch!

There's a legacy of success story after success story that teaches us indispensable wisdom that only through repeated failures can one truly derive enduring success.

So it comes down to this...

Pick yourself up; dust yourself off; get back on the saddle; up from the count; head down, chin up and chase that bully right out of town, (or at least down the next aisle).

Oh, and run to greet any unforeseen shopping buddies!



Creative Commons License
Fear of Success...Not! by Jamie Greene is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.


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