Are you afraid of success? 4 Trigger signs to look out for

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Scared of success? What on earth are you talking about Jamie, who would be afraid of that?

I’ll admit this does seem very counter intuitive and you might need a bit of convincing here but I believe this is definitely an underrated problem, and it could be affecting you right now.

You only have to spend 5 minutes on any personal development blog to read an article about dealing with negativity or anxiety and it’s so easy to get sucked in to the belief that we can only be fearful of the bad things that can happen to us. The trouble is that often the scariest parts of our life are those which offer the path of success and genuine happiness.

I would like to share with you what I believe are the most common signs and how we can learn to acknowledge them and move forwards.

1. You are saying no a lot more than you used to

It’s a Friday night and you’re sat at home with a ready meal for one and a glass of wine. You’re bored, you wish your life was more exciting but it’s okay, you’re getting on a bit now. Best get the slippers out too.

Your phone rings and it’s an invite from one of your best friends to a party. Initially you’re excited but you find yourself turning the offer down because, well those slippers are so damn comfy!

Is this happening too often? Do you turn down invitations to social events because you just can’t be bothered?

What’s going on here?

Don’t worry, this happens to all of us at some point and it can be attributed to many different triggers including tiredness and depression but it is likely that you have just become stuck in the habit of being a ‘no person’.

Thankfully this is the easiest trigger to deal with, so get out there and be a ‘yes man’. Make a point of saying yes to every social invite you receive for the next 30 days and see what happens. You will meet loads of new people and if you haven’t been on a date recently, there is no better way to put yourself out there.

2. You have mastered the art of self-sabotage

You think back to some of the happiest times in your life. That great job you had back in 2007 or that 4 year relationship that ended last year. Your blissful memories are interrupted by some worrying thoughts that you can’t seem to shake off.

Why don’t I have this in my life now? Was I to blame?

Yes, yes you were and you know it.

What’s going on here?

Sometimes when something is going great we can feel a little overwhelmed and the pressure of maintaining standards can cause us to resent what we have and to back away. In the example of the relationship, this can be evident when the idea of commitment brings us out of our comfort zone and the idea of being single and free is seen as more pleasurable than the anxiety of committing yourself emotionally to another person

The key here is that when you next become anxious or overwhelmed, tell yourself that it is normal and healthy to have these thoughts. You are extending your comfort zone and the feelings you are experiencing are that of growth and progress. Embrace them and follow your instincts.

3. You constantly worry if you’re good enough

The manager calls you into the office and your first thoughts are “oh dear, what have I done now?” yet you are surprised to hear that he is offering you a promotion. Your initial feeling of relief and excitement is soon followed by real fear and the worry that you just aren’t capable of stepping up to the challenge.

Instead of accepting you ask for a few days to think it over, knowing full well that you will probably turn it down with some pathetic excuse. You’re finally doing well in your current role and you don’t think you will be able to cope with that extra responsibility.

What’s going on here?

The chances are that if you are good at anything in your life, you will want to keep believing that you can do it. Anything that conflicts with that belief is going to seem undesirable and it’s no wonder that you want to keep doing what you know.

Going from the top rung of a ladder to the bottom of the next one can be difficult for our ego to deal with but give yourself a little credit. You were given the chance because someone believes in you. Learn to trust yourself and never be afraid of putting yourself out there.

4. You have created an identity based on failure

Everyone loves a good moan don’t they? And so do you.

The highlight of your week is meeting up with your friends so you can revel in each other’s misery and frustration. You love trading stories and they see you as the comedic relief. To be honest you enjoy the attention your rants receive almost as much as the feeling of getting it off your chest.

What’s going on here?

Have you noticed that when someone gets a particular nickname or a reputation they tend to play up to it as often as possible? Humans like to meet up and spread gossip, and this is as true now as it was 10,000 years ago. It is simply part of our social bonding process.

The problem is that if you have nothing to moan about, it can feel like you have nothing to contribute to the discussion. Especially if you have lived your life believing that you were destined to be a failure.

People usually use a lack of confidence and belief as an excuse to stay exactly where they are. They are afraid of pushing outside of their comfort zone.

These four examples; Saying no to things that come your way, sabotaging any success you may have, questioning your ability to do something and believing you are a failure all stem from fear.

The quickest way to change all of the above scenarios is to change your mind-set to believe that you deserve happiness just as much as the next person. Resisting change and positivity is tiring and eventually it will catch up with you.

Don’t fear success. Instead fear what will happen should you keep resisting it. We all have the capacity to be the person we genuinely want to be, to have the life that we used to dream about.

Allow yourself to succeed; you deserve it.

About Jamie

Jamie is a guitar teacher and writer who hates the typical 9-5 existence. After quitting his job to enter the world of guitar tuition, he created this blog to document his thoughts and struggles as he takes on societies norms armed with nothing more than his cheeky wit and undeniable charm - Give his Facebook page a like, add him on Twitter or follow his Google+ page and he will repay you with even more awesome words!


  1. Really good article. Really good advice!
    zandra moore recently posted..Top 20 Ways to Be a Happier PersonMy Profile

  2. Great post Jamie…there are some real nuggets of wisdom in here. I especially related to #3. Leaving the comfort of my J.O.B. for the roller coaster of entrepreneurship is tougher to handle mentally that most people realize.

    But it making it through to the other side can be awesome! Nice work helping others to get there!
    Brian recently posted..SEO Strategy InfographicMy Profile

    • Hey Brian. For me it was the worry that I would fail rather than succeed with leaving my job. Then again when you go it alone it’s scary to think of all the things you have to do for yourself!

      Thanks for dropping by.

  3. though i never experienced the fear of success but i know its a common problem
    i know people who are too afraid to try because they believe that success might take them away from their friends, just another false belief
    thanks for the post : )
    farouk recently posted..Why do some people prefer cold weatherMy Profile

    • I know, some people struggle to believe that it’s possible to be scared of success but you only have to look at all the lottery winners who become bankrupt within 5 years to see this in action. Their success doesn’t align with their true view of themselves so they do their best to revert back to their old ‘ordinary’ self.

  4. Thankyou Jamie,
    It’s good to read this because i’m working on being successful myself and on dealing with the fears and other emotions that come up around it when they come up.

    I guess you can look at it this way, if your not taking action the fear of success won’t come up, everything will feel okay. It’s only taking action when you find this fear and then dealing with it you can go past it to the next level. 🙂

    Ben recently posted..Get a Little Inspiration!My Profile

  5. The warning signs indicate that one is complacent and may not be in a hurry to succeed. Or success in not really important to them that’s why they disregard the opportunity to meet people, get connections and opportunities along the way. Is it borne out of fear or of contentment. Who knows it could be the latter.

    • I do know some people who are genuinely happy just plodding along which is fine. At the end of the day, they are content so it works for them!


  1. […] Are you afraid of success? 4 Trigger signs to look out for by Jamie Flexman. This post can be tough to read because you may already be doing some of the things he warns are signs of a fear of success. However, it is important to recognize if you are, so you can stop as soon as possible. […]

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