Fear of failure is a common and natural companion to building a business around your gifts.

But what about the fear of success?

Really? Yep, you heard me right. It can be tricky to spot and is far more common than you might think.

Often it’s a fear that success will mean a lot of hard work and an overwhelming pressure to keep delivering results.

Or a fear we won’t have time for ourselves or the people that matter to us.

It comes in many different guises and in my work with clients I’ve noticed there’s a whole cluster of subtly different versions around one specific theme …

Emperor Penguin rejected by other Penguins - fear of success

“If I’m successful, they won’t like me!”

Click here to discover if this is a hidden block for you

Try this simple exercise and then share what you find in the Comments below. By sharing you might just help someone else have a lightbulb moment 🙂

  • Imagine yourself at your goal, your version of ‘successful’ and everything that means to you
  • Say this statement out loud and assess on a scale of 0-10 how true it feels in your body (not in your conscious mind):
    “If I’m successful, they won’t like it” _________
  • And 0-10 how afraid do you feel? _________
  • Tap slowly on your collarbone point as you tune into the feeling and get a sense of who ‘they’ are. What won’t they like if you succeed, and what would that mean for you?

Remember to come back and share what you find in the Comments below.

Because the fear is so subtle, so diverse and so hard to detect, I started collecting examples.

Do any of them resonate for you?

I’ll be abandoned by my family of origin

As children we have a primal need to fit in and be accepted by our family of origin, just in order to survive. We take an unconscious vow to be loyal to our family of origin and never to surpass them. And we unconsciously obey all their rules and limiting beliefs around work and the world.

If you’re breaking your family’s rules now around what constitutes work (it has to be hard, it has to be a struggle, a proper job is a paid job etc) , a part of you will fear being abandoned by them – which meant certain death for the child.

I’ll be abandoning my family of origin

If you saw your parents working really hard and struggling to make ends meet, and now you’re able to earn good money doing something you love that’s fun and easy for you, it will feel somehow wrong. You’ll be breaking that vow ‘never to surpass my family of origin’.

They worked so hard and never really got ahead – why should you be so lucky?

You’ll likely feel guilty, that you’re abandoning or betraying them and denying everything they went through. You’ll be breaking your unconscious vow of loyalty (see above) and will find a way to make things a struggle, just to stay loyal to them.

I’ll be a target of envy for a parent

A common theme between mothers and daughters. Perhaps there were lots of things she wanted to do with her life and never really had the chance.

Seeing her daughter fly in completely different and privileged circumstances brings up so much grief and sadness around her own unfulfilled potential, making it hard for her to celebrate her daughter’s successes.

Often the parent has been dead for many years, but a part continues to dampen down to avoid their resentment.

I’ll outshine and diminish a sibling

Conditioned from childhood to dampen yourself down and never allow yourself to truly shine, never acknowledge or celebrate your successes, to protect the feelings of a less able sibling.

You’ll likely feel uncomfortable celebrating your successes, which you judge as blowing your own trumpet, and never allow yourself the thrill and pleasure of acknowledging your achievements.

I’ll be excluded from the group

Similar to the vow of loyalty to our family of origin, this triggers that primal need to belong and be accepted. The fear that we’ll lose the support and acceptance of a group is a powerful stopper to success.

For example if you’re a member of a weight-loss group and you meet regularly to support and encourage each other, will they celebrate with you if you reach your goal weight? Will they envy your success? Will you still be accepted as part of that group? Will you feel somehow separate, that you no longer belong?

I’ll be misunderstood and rejected 

That same need for connection again, to belong and be accepted, in a subtly different guise.

For example, if you’ve been stepping out of your comfort zone and moving up to the next level in your business or career, you can expect to receive some flack from fellow professionals who are staying safely within their own comfort zone and not growing.

They may feel some envy as they see you doing the things they would love to do but haven’t yet found the courage to do – and your success will remind them of this.

They may become critical and judge you as greedy, money-grabbing and inauthentic and say ‘Who does she think she is?’ And that you don’t really care about your clients, you’re just in it for the money.

This is a HUGE stopper for therapists, healers, heart-centred business owners, who genuinely do care about helping people and whose primary driver is never the money and always the difference they can make in people’s lives.

If needing the good opinion and approval of others is a block for you, remind yourself that you are a person of integrity, always operating in alignment with your values, so that what others think of you becomes irrelevant. Separate your self-worth and your value from other people’s opinion of you.

“Your value does not decrease based on someone else’s inability to see your worth” – Author Unknown


Did you try the exercise? What could you add to my list? What might be holding you back from success?

Do share in the Comments below – you might just be allowing someone else to have a ‘lightbulb moment’ too 🙂


Blocks to success run quietly yet powerfully in the background and effectively keep you dampened down and never really going for it 100%, never truly allowing yourself to shine and have the level of success you desire and deserve.

These hidden blocks take skill and detective work to unearth.

If you feel this might be an issue for you, apply for one of the limited number of Discovery Sessions I offer each month to help you break free.

It’s completely free and there’s no obligation to take things further – so you have nothing to lose but your blocks. Go here now to apply:

Apply for a free Discovery Session here

Then please share with your friends using the social icons below. Thank you!

Want to get UNSTUCK and be UNSTOPPABLE?

Your information will be used to keep you in touch with free resources and special offers through regular emails. We will only send you relevant materials and will never share your information with third parties. You can unsubscribe at any time.
View our full Privacy Policy here.

8 Comments on Fear of success – subtle saboteur

  1. Linda thank you! It is so helpful to see these different flavours of ‘fear of success’ spelt out with such clarity AND with a solution to hand!

    I think often we accept these fears as part of our own particular brand of suffering and don’t even consider that there is a way through them.

    I love your work as you know 🙂 and the fact that I am brave enough to leave a comment here – PANIC **where the whole world can see it ** FEAR -is testament to its efficacy.

  2. Hi Linda. This was a tough one for me.I couldn’t feel fear about success, but I did about just going for it. Tightening in the stomach when I’d think of making some calls or visualizing myself meeting people. It’s fascinating when I pay attention to the fear how it’s hiding in the places that are not often visited. Thanks for helping me connect with that. I’m just beginning to explore tapping and I’ll be able to say more soon. Thanks for the way you keep reaching out so that we can get out of our own way.
    Miriam Linderman recently posted…Releasing the Inner Leader’s ShameMy Profile

    • So glad you found it helpful, Miriam. and delighted to hear you’re exploring tapping – it’s a powerful adjunct to any kind of personal development or healing work that we do.

      So many opportunities to access those hidden places when fear is hiding, when we attempt to put ourselves ‘out there’. Yay for us for seizing the gift!
      Linda Anderson recently posted…How to sabotage sales with one simple phraseMy Profile

  3. Hi Linda,
    I don’t have a fear of success, I have a fear of failure, of failing yet again, of ending up in debt yet again, and of wasting yet more time and money in attempting to succeed. I also have a fear that no-one will buy from me….I mean, why would they?!! And I am wondering why I’m not tapping on these fears…..??

  4. I think you hit the nail on the head with your comment over on the ‘Trouble getting your mojo back….’ post, Carol.

    I mean, what if the fear goes away and we actually have to make a move then? Tricky, tricky Elephants! So clever!

    I usually find that listening to and acknowledging their fears, showing gratitude for their positive intention (to keep us safe) and then inviting them to find another way to achieve the same end, works a treat. They’re usually operating on outdated programs that are way past their sell-by date, so an information update from your older wiser self can also be very free-ing.
    Linda Anderson recently posted…Trouble getting your mojo back after the break?My Profile

  5. You are absolutely spot on with the underlying sources of fear of success for me – whilst it wasn’t huge (around a 4), the first people that entered my awareness were my siblings and parents. There is no logic for this, it is very definitely ‘elephant-led’, so thank you for creating this awareness exercise – I feel an EFT session coming on!
    Helen Rebello recently posted…How to Help Your Heart find its Happy PlaceMy Profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Un-tick and click again to share your latest blogpost