Fear of success is far more dangerous than fear of failure, because the subconscious mind works to prevent that which it fears. People may fear success because of low self-esteem and feeling of not deserving it; because it will increase what others expect of them. Fear of success shows up as anxiety, indecision, avoidance, procrastination or acceptance of mediocrity. JOE TYE (Life Coach)
I’m going to let you in on a secret. A secret that most of my family and friends don’t know about me.
As far back as I can remember, I’ve been incredibly scared of high places. This fear even comes alive when I’m watching tv and someone is in a high place like a tight rope. This fear has always puzzled me because I have absolutely no fear of flying. I love sitting by the window and looking out into the clouds and skyline. Other than the occasional annoying shift of my things, turbulence doesn’t faze me but ask me to walk across a bridge and hysterics will ensue.
Earlier this year I went skydiving in the bay area. It was one of several New Years resolutions for me and although I’ll never do it again, in hindsight, I’m glad I did it. I wanted to get over my fear of heights and thought this would be an effective (and extreme) way to do it. Sort of like a self-imposed shock therapy. Surprisingly, I wasn’t scared of jumping out of the plane.
Sadly, despite this once in a lifetime adventure, I’m still afraid of heights.
So, what’s going on here?
I started to do some research and came to realize that I’m actually not afraid of heights…I’m afraid of falling. It’s not exactly logical but when I’m in situations where I *think* there’s total control and safety (like a plane or tandem partner), the fear of heights/falling leaves me. I know, it doesn’t make much sense.
This got me thinking about the other things that we do (or don’t do) where we incorrectly attribute one thing to another. For instance, I’ve heard that many people that are afflicted with habitual procrastination aren’t necessarily being lazy or afraid of failure; it could be just as likely that they’re afraid of success and everything that comes with it like the fear of increased responsibility and expectations.
It seems that if we all just take what we see in ourselves at an artificial surface level, we may be trying to solve for the wrong things. Maybe the things that we fear, emotions we exhibit or habits we seek to change are rooted in something much less obvious.
Although I didn’t “cure” my fear of heights the experience did teach me about maintaining a healthy skepticism of my feelings and reactions and trying to make an intentional decision to dig deeper to really understand what’s driving my behavior.