Are You Afraid to Succeed?

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I know you’re afraid to fail, but is it possible that you’re even more afraid to succeed?


You want to lose the weight, have the energy, wear the clothes, do the activities, cook the food, live the life, enjoy the peace, and experience the self-confidence.


But is it possible that the idea of achieving any or all of those goals actually utterly terrifies you?


At first glance, it makes no sense that we’d be afraid to succeed. How can we want something so badly that it seems to occupy virtually every moment of our lives, and simultaneously feel crushing anxiety at the idea of getting it?


I think the answer lies in how deeply we identify with our current self.


Our current self feels like she’s failing most of the time. She’s too fat, too flabby, too saggy, too unorganized, too unpolished and too uncool. You know all her shortfalls and deficiencies front to back, inside and out.


This potential future self we imagine, on the other hand, is the opposite of all of that. She’s thin and strong, relaxed and confident, organized and stylish, peaceful and happy. In short, she’s a total mystery to us.


And we’re afraid to succeed because we don’t know who she is.


We’re afraid to succeed because we don’t know who we’d be.


We know what we know. And even if what we currently know is frustrating,  disheartening and even painful at times…it’s what we know.


You know who your current self is. You know how she thinks, how she reacts and what she’ll do.


She’s predictable. She’s familiar. And familiar feels very, very safe.


Success doesn’t feel familiar. Success is unknown. And fear thrives in the unknown. 


So, when success feels like foreign territory, it’s frightening and even if we say it’s something we want, at a deeper level we resist – and even sabotage – it.


What to do?


Well, if fear thrives in the unknown and familiar equals safe, then we have to work on making the idea of our own success feel more familiar – less foregin.


How can you do that?


Use your imagination!


Spend some time hanging out in Imagination Land with your future, successful self.


Try her on for size. Walk around in her shoes (and gorgeous clothes). Watch how she moves. Notice what she thinks. Watch how she reacts. Feel what she feels. Borrow her confidence, strength and joy.


Do this regularly – daily if you can. Do it in the shower, while you’re chopping vegetables, when you’re walking the dog, before you drift off to sleep. 


Do it until she doesn’t feel like such a stranger anymore.


Until the leap from you to her doesn’t feel so gigantic.


Until the idea of becoming her no longer seems so far fetched and success no longer feels so scary.


Until you start to see glimmers of her in the mirror and realize that she’s already alive and growing inside of you.


[If you enjoyed this post, please share – thanks!]

Posted in

Sara Best


  1. Helen Bryant on February 16, 2021 at 6:21 am

    I’m not afraid of success I’m afraid I’ll waste my money like I have quite a number of times

    • Jody on February 17, 2021 at 1:09 pm

      Maybe fear of success is underlying why all those other times didn’t work. Just a thought to ponder….

  2. Anne Curran on February 16, 2021 at 6:50 am

    Thank you Sara, I appreciate what you have taken the time to write, and I have to say I really like this approach, and can see it working,, you done well, I love and believe what you have written

  3. Rachel Gramann on February 16, 2021 at 7:21 am

    Hi Sarah.
    Really needed to read this today…you’re absolutely right! That fear of who I could become is real and yes, I don’t know her!
    But now you’ve got me thinking because I definitely know she’s inside me…I’ve seen her before…I know if I look hard enough I’ll see her again.
    It’s so hard to trust myself.
    Small steps forward.

  4. Nicole on February 16, 2021 at 7:34 am

    Wow Sara, this one really touched me this Tuesday morning after eating all weekend and feeling sorry for myself. I’ve started visualization of her and looking forward to spending more time with her.
    Nicole Secord

  5. Susie on February 16, 2021 at 11:45 am

    I totally relate to this. Some years ago I lost 160lbs. I was lighter than I was when I left school at 16, some 45 years ago. I had never been slim in my entire life. I felt absolutely fantastic but I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know what was expected of me, I suddenly felt as if I was invisible and I wasn’t coping, it was frightening. I went for counselling but the person couldn’t understand what I meant when I said I didn’t know who I was any more. Things that I had coped with as a morbidly obese person – the name calling, the laughing behind my back, the being bumped into when I was out because I took up so much room. Nobody sat next to me on the bus as I took up too much of the seat, the rudeness of people thinking that just because I was fat, I was also stupid and had no feelings. Now I was a ‘normal’ size, I didn’t get any of this, it almost felt as if I was invisible, no-one made sarcastic remarks anymore, I felt as if they didn’t see me.
    Here I am 6 years on, constantly struggling to lose the weight I regained as I found it so hard to cope with finding my way in life. I wasn’t fat Sue anymore and I almost felt bereaved. I have regained 75lbs and every day is a struggle to stick to healthy eating. I now have to lose the weight for health reasons due to heart problems, of course, as before, my weight was always blamed for any illness I had. Then as a slim person, my weight was never mentioned at the hospital and again, I couldn’t cope with not knowing why I was having so many issues as it was no longer my weight.
    I am terrified of the future if I fail to lose weight, but I am also afraid of who I will be as a slim person and will this fight begin all over again. It’s breaking my heart emotionally and physically.

  6. Julie on February 16, 2021 at 2:10 pm

    You nailed it Sara-I AM afraid to succeed. I am wasaay too comfortable in my bad habits: emotional & mindless eating. I’ve always sought the validation of others, and feel directionless or a lack of purpose in semi-retirement, No kids or grandkids, but a wonderful parter-husband of 45 years. Joined the Y but never go . . Cook mostly healthy but eat too much and visit fast food places for something to do during pandemic. Comfort food has taken center stage for me now during this pandemic winter!

  7. Christine Peluso on February 16, 2021 at 3:31 pm

    I think this explains what happens to me. 6 years ago I lost 100 pounds. In less than a year I gained it back for numerous reasons (new medicine, major surgery and resulting inactivity, and going back to old eating habits). I was happy smaller but it did not feel like me, the body identity I’ve had all my adult life. I’m trying to lose the weight again but I lose 5 then gain it back the lose it again. I am much very frustrated. I think I sabotage myself because I’m scared and have a hard time being that normal weight person. How can I imagine myself that person now so when I get there I don’t feel like I’m in a foreign body? Do I just think about it and try to picture it? How do I imagine that confident thin person? I joined the consistency club after the cracking the code course. Hopefully it can help me.

  8. Donna Kuhn on February 16, 2021 at 8:07 pm

    I have never understood the self sabotage thing. I want to lose the weight, but I think now after reading this it is a thing. I think I am afraid of failure or afraid I will lose the weight but eventually put it back on again and that will be even worse then if I just didn’t lose it in the first place. I have been on this weight loss journey for about 2 years. I have lost 70 lbs. I have 20 I would still like to lose and for the past year I have lost and regained the same 5 pounds I have not been able to break through. I think this may be it.

  9. Kathy Densmore on February 17, 2021 at 7:57 am

    Yes, this makes perfect sense Sara. Something I need to think more about. Thank you for your constant insight and support.

  10. Eileen on February 19, 2021 at 10:37 am

    I don’t know what to think about this. I think I don’t do things right and I’m just not as committed as I need to be.

  11. Celia on February 19, 2021 at 1:38 pm

    I too sometimes feel I am afraid to succeed. The status quo is known..

    However the other part of me says to acknowledge that some of my goals are really going to be a life long journey and I always will be working on them,

  12. Shelley Toomalatai on February 20, 2021 at 12:03 pm

    To me, it isn’t about the fear of success, I loved being 50-60 + lbs lighter, I loved how it felt, I loved who I was, I thought I was arriving.. eventually I started gaining back bit by bit, until it was all back again…so much work to get it all off and I was only half way there to have it all come back on! :(. But there is a reason for this and it is a horrible one… I was working with an online Weight loss/ Coach who wanted to use me as a transformation story for her business, she actually found me through my healthier living blog page…Her and her husband worked with me for 6. months and we worked hard…The husband did the food part and then stepped back, the gal helped with the changing the behaviours, food and fitness…it was working great, I was blossoming and so enjoyed our friendship and help..until the ‘bottom fell out’… the kicker was they offered this service for free, they thought if I could ‘deliver’ fast enough, I could help build their business…6 months and 60 lbs lighter, then her husband stepped in and said I wasn’t losing weight fast enough and forced his wife to drop me as a client…she was upset by this, I was crushed, devastated, sooo hurt! All she said was, you have the skills you need, all you have to do is trust yourself and she was gone! I felt I wasn’t ready yet… I tried to carry on with what she had told me but I was already defeated, believing what the husband said! So now I am kind of mistrustful of stepping out again and getting help. It did make me realize that I am ultimately responsible for me but oh I miss the teamwork of working with someone, the care and encouragement. I am floundering now, I am back to going up and down but know my health is paying is paying for the inconsistently and inaction…just stuck!! Thanks for letting me share!

  13. Heather MacPherson on February 21, 2021 at 11:39 am

    I could feel myself considering this as I read your words. Thank You! I will try this in the coming days…

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