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The fear that holds us back

A while back I wrote a post that was encouraging you to step over your fear of failure and just try. Today I’m taking this a step forward. We talk about the fear that holding us back. Many of us feel that fear of failure is the worst, we stop ourselves from trying because we are afraid we’ll fail, we’ll look like idiots. But is it always just fear of failure  that’s holding you back?

The fear of failure

I’m sure you know the feeling. Believing you’re not enough, the fear to start something new, to start a business, to ask the person you like out. Fear that you won’t be good enough, that no one will like your idea, that your crush will reject you, that you’ll make a fool of yourself. The fear you can’t do it.

‘If you can dream, you can do it!’ You’ve heard that one about a hundred times, you have notes and post-its of it every where. It’s your mantra during yoga. But it’s still not sinking in. The way out of this is, like I said in my other post, to just try. The worst thing that can happen is not nearly as scary as you think.

And then, one day, maybe you do try. And you succeed. Or you don’t try and you still succeed. Your business takes off out of no where. You get the promotion you’ve been secretly hoping for. You’re happy, you feel like doing the happy dance right there in public, because you’re that good. But then, after that short lived happiness rush, it kicks in. Fear. You are right back where you were before. What if I’m not good enough? Should I actually accept this promotion? What if no one will respect my authority, I don’t know how to be a boss, I’ve never been in charge of anything?! My business will definitely sink, this is pure chance it won’t last, I shouldn’t pour my heart and soul, I shouldn’t invest more, cause it’s still not good enough!

Sounds familiar? This could very well be a fear of success simply disguised as a fear of failure.

Fear of success

Fear of success is something that can have many faces. Psychology Today takes a more in depth study of the issue identifying past trauma as a triggering factor.

As Mark McGuinness suggests in this article you might be facing a fear of not coping with success. Honestly, I think more people go through this than we realize. For me, the realization that this is what was actually happening to me was game changing.

Many people have the fear of failure engraved in them from an early age. We’re scared that if we get bad grades our parents won’t love us. If we don’t make it the sports team we might not get a chance to go to college. Success is good, but at the same time, the more we succeed, the higher the expectations of those around us. In many cases, success means big changes in our lives. Take for instance a promotion at work. It’s something you’ve been working hard for and it’s what you’ve wanted. But at the same time it might distance you from your friends. You might become their boss or change the department and rarely have time for them.

Dare to succeed

So what do you do when this fear of success tries to stop you in you tracks? You move on! Yes, it’s scary sometimes, the idea of not living up to expectations, the idea of losing friends. But do you really want to stay stuck in the same place? Because if you refuse to move on and step over those fears, that’s exactly what you’re doing. Personally, I believe that being stuck in one place is worse than trying something new.

After all, the success came because you worked hard. Or maybe you did get lucky. But as cheesy as it might sound, I do believe things happen for a reason. So regardless of it being pure luck or a lot of hard work, you are meant to be there. You are meant for that success. So try it. Live that dream. If it’s not what you expected, you can go back to where you were before. It might hurt a little, sure. But on the long run it will hurt less than asking yourself “what if”!

I hope you found some encouragement and inspiration in this blog post. If you did, please help us by subscribing to our newsletter. Or if you’re not the e-mail type, follow us on any of our social media channels, or leave us a comment below.

fear of failure vs fear of success - what really holds us back and what to do about it?

Comments (4)

  • Avatar


    Interesting post! Fear holds us back in so many ways.


  • Avatar

    Chelsea Adams

    I think regret is more painful than any form of rejection, disapproval or failure. Great post, thank you!


  • Avatar


    Fear is such a crazy thing! Identifying can be difficult and overcoming can be even harder! Love your thoughts on this post!


  • Avatar


    Interesting post. Fear is something else. It can be someone’s biggest hinderance in life.


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