The Fear of Success

Lasting Change-Succeeding Beyond Your Fears of Success. Discusses strategies for accomplishing goals through visualization, why success brings fear and how to overcome the issues that accompany accomplishment. PFS19.

By Hara Estroff Marano, published December 1, 2002 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

Achieving lasting change, and getting what you reallywant in life, takes a sustained vision of the future. That vision serves not just as an ongoing source of motivation to get there, it helps you identify and tackle the obstacles that have held you back until now.

These include fear of failure, such as doubts about your own worthiness for success, which we tackled in an earlier article in this series. And if you're like most people, they also involve fear of achieving the very things you want.

"The fear of success is a very unique issue that arises when you are genuinely creating change and moving forward in your life," says Ti Caine, a hypnotherapist and life coach based in Sherman Oaks, California. "The fear of success is very real because the future is real-we're all heading there-and what we imagine for our future has an enormous influence on us."

Yet, we are clueless how to deal with fears of success, Caine insists, because they're in the future and we don't know how to work on the future. "Our culture is focused on fixing the past. It's as if we are driving through life staring in the rear-view mirror." Caine has developed a technique he calls FutureVisioning to provide people with an alternative, that is, a system for creating a detailed picture of the future they want to achieve.

To create and sustain success it is essential to find and release your fears of success. The more you leave the task undone, the more your fears will control you. "it's the monster in the closet," says Caine. "And it gets bigger."

Fears of success tend to cluster around several issues. One of the core fears that arise from change is that success will lead to loneliness. Women especially fear success because they are afraid that being powerful enough to create the life they want will render them unlovable. Sometimes people fear success will mean being attacked by enemies, or besieged by others wanting money or other things from them.

Many women fear success at losing weight because becoming more attractive to others could jeopardize the love and the life they have or create situations they do not know how to handle.

Some fears of success are easy to release because they will probably never happen, such as fears of losing it all and becoming a bag lady. But some are real. When you change, the relationships around you will be forced to change. Some friends will always cheer you on. But others are steeped in jealousy and will denigrate you for moving forward.

"All fears of success would go away if you totally took your power back," says Caine. "In fact, our very deepest fear is that when we really reclaim our power and succeed, we have to face the knowledge that we have always been powerful to change all along and that we could have changed a year or five or 10 years ago." Change comes from choice and we have always had that power.

Then you come face to face with the realization that we caused unnecessary suffering to ourselves and others along the way by our failure to change. And that suffering is not a necessary part of life.

The common denominator to every problem in your life is: you were there when it happened. The pain of the realization that you have been powerful all along can be healed only by forgiving yourself. "If you don't know how to forgive yourself, that forgiveness doesn't come from the outside but from the inside, then you can't create empowered success," insists Caine.

Forgiving yourself as a conscious act leads to a sense of completion. Then you can move on and not act out your failure over and over again.

You need to understand why you held onto being powerless for so long. There are payoffs for holding onto less-than-successful realities and failing to change, real secondary gains to be had, Caine points out. Some fundamental questions can help you understand why; the biggies is, What do I hope to get out of pretending to be powerless?

• What do I get to avoid?

• Who do I get to punish or love?

• What emotion am I not willing to release? For many it is anger.

• What guarantee am I holding out for?

• Am I manipulating with self-pity?

• Am I feeling better than or less than?

• What am I afraid of losing if I succeed?

Once you identify your fears and undersant why you he ld onto them, then you can forogive yourself. You can release your fears either by visualizing your fear coming true in the future, then creatively destroying it in your imagination. Or you can write out your fears and destroy the paper. (You can get h elp with the process at

Then play out the movie of your successful future in your imagination-and you are on your way to a successful life.