Are You Secretly Hoping You'll Fail?

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”  -Marianne Williamson

I just wrapped up a fun workshop in Brooklyn this week where we dove into how our mindset affects our success.

There are so many mindset trap doors we can fall into. One, in particular, that seemed to strike a chord was fear of success.

While we might be more familiar with fear of failure, fear of success is actually pretty common. It's a sneaky one that will hold us back and keep us hiding out in our comfort zone.

It's a tricky mindset because we can say we want success. We can shout it out. We can even outwardly bust our behinds to make it happen, but if our subconscious is dialed into a fear of success, we will find ways to self-sabotage and stay exactly where we are. 

Success, however we define it, can be an unknown and therefore scary place. It sounds great on paper, but our inner workings can get a little suspicious about this "success".

We worry about the chains of responsibility that might come with our success package. We fear we'll lose our freedom, that we'll have to change who we are, or that we'll ultimately fail as the stakes and hurdles get higher with more success. 

Fear of success can also tie into our identity, how we see ourselves, and how we relate to groups. Way back when, in our hunter-gatherer days, it was important we fit in with our tribes for survival. Today this has manifested in many ways, and for some of us, it's evolved into a fear of success. On a subconscious level, we think if we achieve success (whatever success looks like for us) that we’ll stand out and separate ourselves from the group...that we’ll no longer fit in. 

We worry if we book the tv show, loose the weight, get the guy or girl, make the money (fill in the blank here) that we’ll stand out too much from our tribe and get kicked out.

For others, fear of success may be linked to a childhood experience of being teased for excelling. I've definitely fallen into this one. I was teased as a kid for being in the nerdy classes. And wouldn’t you know it, I was skipping school and getting in trouble in no time to “fit” in. That’s some self-sabotage at its best and a result of fear of success.

Fear of success can show up as a downplaying syndrome in order to make other people feel good, like us, or feel safe. It’s that tribe mentality again. This can be especially true for the empaths out there. 

Fear of success can also come with a side of guilt. It can sound like, “I don’t want to hurt their feelings or make them feel bad if I get the new job." This guilt can keep us playing in the shadows.

Newsflash: You do not help others by playing small, dimming your light, or staying stuck. When you play full out and live your life to your fullest capabilities, you act as an example and help lift others around you up. 

If this is ringing an internal bell, I’d invite you to be kind to yourself. All of our fears, including a fear of success, come from a place of self-protection.

Have compassion with yourself and this fear. 

Get curious about the specifics of your fear. What exactly are you worried will happen if you succeed? The more you can flesh it out the better.

Treat this fear like you would a child, soothingly, with understanding.

Then, start to gather evidence to support the opposite of your specific fear. Where can you find examples? Get social proof of the upside of your desired success.

Finally, give yourself permission to expand your capacity for success. As Marianne Williamson says, "who are you not to be?"

Wishing you your version of success!

Kim Argetsinger success and mindset coach

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