How the Fear of Success and Fear of Failure Present Themselves

Procrastination Is about Fear

Published on October 12, 2011 by Dr Cathy

People talk about two contradictory impediments to being successful in life. One is the fear of failure and the other is the fear of success. Whichever presents itself in your life can sabotage your efforts to succeeding in your dream, or if you have moved to action, your goals. Let's look at each one individually and note their similarities, even though they appear to be direct opposites of each other.

The Fear of Failure

Many people who constantly strived for success, no matter how much they have achieved in their lives often have a fear of failure running continually beneath everything they do. They make their decisions based upon what they don't want to happen rather than what they do want to happen. As successful as they may seem to the outside world, especially if people gauge their success based upon financial gain, there is a feeling of discontent and anxiety that all their success will dissolve unexpectedly. These people are not truly happy. They take no joy in what they are doing or in what they have accomplished. They continue to look beyond each achievement hoping to find the one thing that will have them feeling safe and secure.

The fear of failure can present itself in one particular area. For instance, this fear is often seen in the area of what would appear to be success by those who are viewing the person's life. Actors, business people, authors, musicians or any public figure can fit into this category. People see the outward trappings but have no idea what is going on internally with the public figure. When someone is constantly looking over their shoulder, continually scared that fear is right behind, s/he will be unable to experience the joy and satisfaction in accomplishments. The fear of failure prevents focusing on success and moving in that direction. Judgment can be skewed leading to bad decisions made impulsively.

The Fear of Success

It seems paradoxical that someone would actually be afraid of succeeding until you realize it is not success they are afraid of, but what might happen due to success. For instance, if your family and friends do not have an abundance of money, and your goal is to be wealthy, you may fear one of these results of achieving your goals and dreams:

  • People will be coming to you continually for money
  • They will think less of you because you have wealth
  • Your friends will have nothing to do with you
  • People will think you're different than you were when you had less money
  • You will feel isolated and alone.

What is Your Fear?

For you, what is crucial is to identify what fear you may have and how it manifests for you. Research how to overcome each of your fears. The answer is out there. There is a wealth of information in programs, articles, books and workshops. You might need a therapist or personal coach to assist you in breaking free of the narrow vision that occurs when in the state of fear.


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