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How To Overcome Your Fear Of Success

From eDiets - The online diet, fitness, and healthy living resource

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

These obstacles include the fear of failure, such as doubts about your own worthiness for success. And if you're like most people, your obstacles include a 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."

Caine insists that we are clueless about how to deal with our fear of success, because these fears are rooted in a future that we don’t know how to work on. "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 “Future Visioning” 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 achieving success. The more you leave the task undone, the more your fears will control you. Its 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 arises 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 everything 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 realization that we had the power to change all along and could have changed five or ten years ago.” Change comes from choice, and we have always had the power to change.

When we realize this, we will come face-to-face with the realization that we caused unnecessary suffering to ourselves and others along the way by our failure to change. We begin to see 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. Though realizing that you have always had the power to change can be painful, this pain can be healed if you learn to forgive yourself. “Self-forgiveness doesn’t come from the outside but from the inside,” insists Caine. “If you don't know how to forgive yourself, then you can't create empowered success.”

A conscious act of forgiving yourself leads to a sense of completion. With this completing, 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 biggest of these 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 understand why you held onto them, then you can forgive yourself. You can release your fears by visualizing these fears coming true in the future, then creatively destroying this image in your imagination. Or, you can write out your fears and destroy the paper. (You can get help with the process at Ti Caine's Future Visioning website) Now, play out the movie of your successful future in your imagination -- and you are on your way to a successful life.

Hara Estroff Marano is Editor-At-Large of Psychology Today magazine and Editor-In-Chief of Psychology Today's Blues Buster, a newsletter about depression. An award-winning writer on human behavior, Haras articles have appeared in publications including the New York Times, Smithsonian, Family Circle and The Ladies Home Journal. She lives in New York City.

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