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Linda Winters     Linda Winters
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The Fear of Success
It Could Be Keeping You from Achieving Your Dreams


The Fear of Success - It Could Be Keeping You from Achieving Your Dreams

We've all heard the term, but can there really be such a thing as a fear of success? The sound of it is not only counterintuitive it's slightly farfetched. After all, who wouldn't want to feel successful in every aspect of their life? But, the sad reality is that for many people, it's an everyday emotion. And, like most fears, it has the ability to squash our happiness and keep us from achieving our dreams.

We wanted to find out more on the subject, so we enlisted the help of Juanita-Beth Morgan. A certified clinical hypnotherapist for over 17 years, Morgan has done extensive work in the area of success. From performers and athletes to everyday folk, Morgan has used her skills as a behavioralist and hypnotherapist to help people overcome their fear of success, putting them on a path toward fulfillment and achievement.

Where does it come from?
Morgan begins with the following assertion, "The fear of success is an emotional encumbrance, causing us to experience and receive much less than we deserve in order to enjoy a successful life."

So, exactly how does someone become fearful of his or her own success? According to Morgan, the genesis for sufferers is always different. What's the same, however, is the emergence of a pattern. Once we've experienced success it becomes much easier to keep heading in that direction. But the same is also true for failure, or what we perceive as failure.

The good news here is that patterns can be changed, but Morgan points out that it requires certain steps to be taken, as well as some very honest soul-searching and self-questioning. She recommends that everyone start by forming a personal definition of success for each aspect of his or her life. Morgan claims that not doing so will result in identifying with the standards put forth by others, or having no standards at all.

The next step to understanding this fear is realizing that success in any endeavor is all about the choices you make. As she puts it, "It is assuming the attitude to identify, qualify and only refer to a successful strategy when opportunity knocks."

Morgan says that no matter who we are, successful role models help us to gain access to successful choices and strategies. She points out that the majority of successful people have very positive role models in their life. But, there's a little more to the story. Morgan says it is equally important to observe the choices of unsuccessful people, and then avoid these choices at all costs.

Before we venture further into Ms. Morgan's ideas about treatment for the fear of success, it's important to examine some of the telltale signs of its existence.

What are the signs?
Morgan says there are two general signs that someone may have a fear of success. The first is a perpetual state of unhappiness. She says that while it is also a symptom for other emotional issues, unhappiness due to a lack of success is oftentimes compounded by the sufferer's inability to identify the cause.

The second and more telling general sign is an emotional framework that consists mainly of yearnings and unexpressed desires. "I've always wanted to do that," or "I should be doing this," are two types of commonly spoken phrases.

In terms of more tangible or specific signs that someone may have a fear of success, Morgan put forth the following list:

  • Not finishing what you start or abandoning opportunities for success
  • Over-committing to an excessive amount of endeavors
  • Perfectionism
  • Procrastination
  • Substituting ideas for action
  • Hypochondria
  • Placing blame on anything or anyone available
  • Self-sabotage or curbing positive choices associated with successful strategies
  • Not returning phone calls and emails, or pulling no-shows without a qualified reason
  • Nostalgia in the form of a connection to disappointments in the past

By themselves, these signs can also be symptoms of other issues. What's important to focus on is the frequency in which they occur, the combinations in which they appear, and how closely they relate the subject of success.

How is it treated?
"It needs to be treated very seriously," sparks Morgan, likening it to the jailer who holds the key to your freedom. She went on to say, "The world is filled with people who feel unsuccessful and many of them actually appear successful to others."

Going back to her belief that ridding yourself of fear is dependant on breaking a pattern of bad choices, Morgan suggests that you honestly evaluate all the areas of your life based on your definition of success. Regarding the areas where you are satisfied – leave them alone! On the other hand, areas with intense yearnings and desires need to be brought up to par.

Recall how you succeeded in other areas of your life and see if you can reapply those techniques to the areas that need improving. Don't forget that positive patterns have a high probability of working for you again.

On the other hand, you must also have a willingness to change the patterns that have not been working. She's quick to point out the famous quote from Albert Einstein, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."

Morgan goes on to say that it is not enough to simply have a dream. You must also have a plan. According to Morgan, it is surprising how many people never combine the two. "Follow your plan slowly and progressively advance your interests," she asserts, adding that it's important to pace yourself and not burn out. She reminds us that the inability to pace oneself is a legitimate form of self-sabotage.

No matter if they are personal or professional, you must write down your desires, as well as the first step necessary to make them happen. When establishing the subsequent steps within your plan, Morgan recommends asking yourself one question – If I take this step will it further my success? Yes answers indicate the forming of a successful strategy.

Ms. Morgan adds that if you are able to utilize her recommendations, you may not need professional support. The opposite, however, is also true. It's important to know that the longer you stay in a pattern, the harder it is to break it.

Our last question to Morgan had to do with the fear of failure, and how it differs from the fear of success. Oddly enough, she says that while the two fears are polarized they do share many of the same warning signs. She claims that a professional diagnosis typically lies with which polarity is the more prominent occupation of the sufferer, failure or success. Morgan says that treating a fear of failure shares many of the techniques she outlined for treating a fear of success.

We, along with Ms. Morgan, would like to emphasize that this article is not meant as a dissertation. Instead, it is a means of shedding light on an issue that affects many people. If any of it seems familiar, you may want to consider seeking the advice of a professional. Until then, be proactive and utilize her suggestions for turning your negative patterns into successful strategies.

Here's to your success!

Juanita-Beth Morgan, C.H.T is a graduate of the Hypnosis Motivation Institute, having continued her studies at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, under the direction of Walter E. Brackelmanns, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA.

Morgan is a member of the National Guild of Hypnotists, American Hypnosis Foundation, American Counseling Association and the Hypnotherapist Union. She is a recognized public speaker on a national level and is available for speaking engagements for groups of any size. Always accepting new patients, she can be reached at (213) 389-2715. Ms. Morgan asks that anyone contacting her for an appointment to mention YOU Magazine as your referral.




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