Fear of Success

Fear of success often involves fear of success, to the point that people sabotage themselves. While success is often seen as desirable, there are reasons people fear doing too well. It is important to understand that people are not generally afraid of success itself. Instead, their fears focus on the potential consequences of success. Since success expectations are often based on the idea that achieving your goals means making sacrifices or enduring losses, it is perhaps not surprising that people are wary of what success might ultimately cost them.


Fear of success is not always easy to recognize. Some signs that a person may have this fear include:

Lack of goals: People with very low expectations make sure they never make any real progress towards success.

Don't give up: In many cases, people derail their own success by giving up just before it seems like they will.

Procrastination: Putting things off until the last possible minute means people aren't doing their best or most thoughtful work, which can seriously impair their chances of success.

Self-sabotage: who fear success may put obstacles in their own way that reduce their chances of success. These behaviors can range from minor acts of self-sabotage to more serious self-harming behaviors.

It can be difficult to view these as actions motivated by fear of success. In many cases, they can manifest as laziness, lack of motivation and poor discipline.

Fear of success can have many different causes. Some of these are those:

Imposter syndrome: Sometimes people who experience success fear that their success is not deserved or that they are not as good as others in their field. People may fear that they will not live up to expectations or that other people will discover that they are not ready for the challenge.

Misinterpreting the emotions associated with success: Excitement and anxiety share many of the same physical signals. Therefore, it is sometimes easy to misinterpret feelings of excitement as nervousness or anxiety. This can cause people to avoid situations that trigger such emotions.

Fear of reaction: Sometimes people fear success because of the expected potential social or relationship repercussions. The researchers called this phenomenon reaction avoidance. For example, women may avoid promoting themselves because they fear that they don't fit with traditional gender roles.

Negative experiences: People who have experienced some negative consequences after doing something good in the past—for example, being teased for being a "show" or enduring hardship because of that achievement—may fear being good again in the future.

Insufficient self-efficacy:Studies have found that people with a fear of success also tend to have low self-efficacy. Self-efficacy refers to a person's beliefs and ability to achieve their goals.

Shyness or social anxiety: who are shy or socially anxious may fear being successful because they don't want to be in the spotlight.

The Effect of Fear of Success

Fear of success can have a serious negative impact on a person's life. Here are some of the ways that can keep you from getting what you want in life:

-Lower life satisfaction:One study found that this fear significantly reduces satisfaction with life.

-Difficulty following goals: Studies have also found that fear of success is associated with difficulties initiating and maintaining behaviors.

-Reduced self-esteem: While success is normally associated with strong self-esteem, this may not be the case for those who fear success. This can be especially true for people with fraud syndrome because they don't attribute their success to their skills, knowledge or hard work.

-Low expectations: Researchers have also found that people with a fear of success tend to adopt low academic and career goals compared to their abilities.


Some approaches that can be used include:

Psychoanalytic therapy: This type of psychotherapy focuses on understanding unconscious influences and childhood experiences and how these can contribute to a person's current problems.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT helps people learn how to identify automatic negative thoughts that contribute to maladaptive behaviors. By understanding these negative thought patterns, people can learn how to develop more positive ways of thinking that won't hinder their ability to achieve their goals.