Three ways to Fight Fear of Success: The Imposter Syndrome

It’s post Monday. This post is written by Mr.X who is a web content writer and social media expert. Feel free to check out his site at Ghostlancers.com and the site blog. If you would like to be featured as a guest poster on my blog click here.

There are a lot of talented people out there and though some of them are able to use their talents to its full potential, many of them are unable to do anything because of one simple thing: The Fear of Success!

Many of you might be wondering if such a condition even exists. Believe me when I say that it does. It even has a name, Imposter Syndrome. Though it’s not an official psychological condition, nevertheless, the symptoms have been reported by a lot of people. If you are a person who is afraid of achieving success, and you stop trying to achieve it or you feel that the success you currently have isn’t for you and you start being afraid of it, then you most probably have the same condition.

It’s natural to feel a bit anxious whenever you are going to give a test or a match, you are a part of, is about to start. However, when this anxiety is too much that it actually stops you from performing, and you begin to grow afraid of success, then you need to change the way you think.

In reality, people aren’t afraid of success. They are afraid of the changes that occur once success is achieved. They might feel that the way people think of them will change, and they will have to meet more of the expectations, people have of them. The ‘change’ is what people are afraid of along with the responsibilities they will have to handle.

It’s true that people who have achieved success need to take care of a lot of things. They have to handle the pressure they are under to remain successful, and they have to take up the new responsibilities that come with the success. Think of these things as ‘coming with the territory’ and that’s why they shouldn’t stop you from the achieving the success you want. You need to get rid of the fear you are feeling and move on!

There are some things which you can do in order to alleviate this fear:

1. Know yourself

Everyone has a self-image. The way people think about themselves and the persona they want to portray in front of others. Sometimes it happens that the idea of success that people have is greater than their self-image, and that’s what creates fear in them. If you want to achieve something, and you know that there will be new things which you will have to handle. Your self-image will stop you, and you will begin to say things like, ‘I can’t do that’, ‘I have never done that before in my life’, ‘this isn’t who I am’.

You need to have confidence in yourself and change your self-image and know that you will be able to handle the responsibilities once you are successful.

2. What if?

This is a question which many people ask themselves, and it stops them from achieving the glory they want. What if I fail? What if I can’t meet the expectations? What if people won’t like me anymore? What if I can’t give time to my family anymore?

Asking these questions is normal. Of course, things might change when you are successful, and you will have to handle a lot of stuff. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it. People are always afraid of change, but in the end who knows? The change might even prove to be beneficial for you.

So, keep your chin high and believe in yourself.

3. What goes up must come down

Many people fear success because they feel that they won’t be able to maintain it for long. They feel that once, they are on top; people will have more expectations from them and sooner or later; they will succumb to the pressure and fail. The sense of ‘Failure’ isn’t confined to just professional failure. It also includes personal failure where one feels that they have failed other people as well because they couldn’t meet the expectations.

You need to realize that life has its ups and downs, and sometimes all good things must come to an end. But that doesn’t mean that people should stop trying to achieve success. You want to be successful because ‘You’ want to be successful and want to do something with your life. You might be feeling safe now, but after a few years you will regret that you didn’t try to achieve your goal because you were afraid. You need to believe in yourself and in God and know that everything happens for a reason. Yes, there will be expectations, and you might not be able to remain on top, but that’s something which isn’t ‘determined’ and that’s why you at least owe yourself a chance.

Question: What are some other ways a leader can alleviate this fear?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Knowing yourself is key to moving forward into success -knowing both your gifts and skills and your short comings. When we know who we are and how we were created, it gives us the freedom to say yes to success to no to the things that will hold us back.

    • I totally agree with you Jason. Thank you for sharing.

    • Mr.X

      Good thought! i totally agree with that.

  • It is true that many folks fear the road to success though they love the fruit of success. One other way to overcome this fear is to be aware of the price to be paid and consciously move forward on the road to success.

    Good guest post, Mr. X and Dan. Glad to be back here after a short break.

    • Joe,

      Great point about being aware of the price for success. I know a lot of people who want the “fruit of success” but are not willing to pay the price for it.

      I’m glad to see your back. I always enjoy hearing from you. Thank you for sharing.

    • Mr.X

      Great that you decided to come back :)

  • Floyd Samons

    I think a change in perspective is needed. The perception of ourselves and the reality of God. Since we have God with us and understand His sovereignty over His creation, our self image should skyrocket. On top of that, why would we fear what is ultimately in His control? Back in the day, I made up a little saying for myself and others around me, “They can’t eat me and they can’t take my soul.”

    • Great points Floyd. Since God is in control we should not worry or fear about the current or future situations. Thank you for sharing your insights.

  • I think that knowing yourself is the biggest part but also knowing that God with not give us more than we can handle as long as we trust in, cling to, and rely on Him. By the way – if we do not do things God’s way – we certainly could end up with more than we can handle.

    • Great thoughts Jim. Knowing self and God are essential. Thank you for reading and sharing.

    • Mr.X

      Yes…believing in God and having faith is very important…you can’t do wrong if you do right by Him!

  • I can’t imagine having a fear of success…unless it’s success in something I didn’t want to be successful at

    • I know someone who is like this. They say they want something yet when its time to take steps toward it they run and hide. Oh its real buddy.

  • Great thoughts mr x. I think sometimes you just have to ‘do it afraid’. So long as other things check out, just dive in. Sometimes the fear won’t leave and the only cure is forward motion.
    Great post

    • Great thought Ngina, Just starting no matter our feeling is important thing remember. Thank you for sharing that.

  • Great post. Very thought provoking as this isn’t something I’ve ever really thought about or read about.
    I can honestly say, I’ve never feared success. I’ve never considered not moving forward toward my goal. Now, my goals have morphed over time, but I think that is part of growing up both physically and spiritually.

    Thanks for this post, I enjoyed it.

    • Thank you for reading and sharing TC Avey. I’m glad you enjoyed this guest post.

      • Very enlightening and eye opening. I can now relate to a few people I know better. Thanks!

  • This is a great way to evaluate your success or non-success. If its taking you a while to reach some goal that you have been fighting to acheive or so you say and when some success comes your way, something comes in the way to ruin it. Then you may have this syndrome. I know its true and real and its people that are overly fearful of expectations.

    • Great points about this being a “way to evaluate success or non-success.” Thank you for sharing it. I appreciate your insights.

  • I think the biggest factor in fear of success is people who fear an increased burden. Greater success means more responsibility, and that’s often the scary part.

    • Great point Loren. When success happens a person has more responsibility, a lot of times they are over their heads in a good way. This is why it’s so important to have a good team. Thank you for sharing.

  • Ryan Ridgway

    As others have mentioned, I think a striking fear among many aspiring people is sustainability. i.e. IF i succeed, HOW will i be able to sustain my achievements? The old hip-hop adage “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems” comes close to explaining the issue, but “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Responsibility” hits the nail right on the head. In the long run, proper preparation prevents poor performance. Those who have taken the time and performed their due diligence during the process of succeeding, will certainly be more than equipped to handle further roadblocks even when they’ve “arrived” at the destination.

    • Ryan,

      Great insights! That’s a great question to ask, “If I succeed, how will I be able to sustain my achievements? It’s a question every should be asking themselves and be preparing for. The key is to prepare.

      It’s great to hear from you. Thank you for stopping by.