Is Fear of Success (Rather than Failure) Holding You Back?
Does this sound like you: you know what to do, but can’t seem to do it. You feel like you could write a book on weight loss, but you don’t seem to act on all that knowledge? You forever stay stuck, and don’t seem to move forward?
There’s a huge diference between knowing what to do and actually doing it. This is the very reason that Dr Larocque designed the Mental Weight Questionnaire. It delves into WHY you overeat or choose unhealthy habits. Once you know the WHY, that is half the battle.
Success in weight loss actually comes down to our mindset, rather than just pure knowledge. That’s why a weight loss plan based solely on the food you eat will only go so far. A ‘diet’ won’t help you with emotional or stress-induced eating, nor will it help you with compulsive eating or continually opting for unhealthy choices that you know are only compounding your weight problem. What will help is an approach, like ours, that gets to the root of the problem.
What Does Fear of Success Look Like?
Surprisingly, it’s not necessarily fear of failure but, rather, a fear of success that holds people back the most. This deep-rooted fear will sabotage even the best of weight loss intentions, no matter how determined you are.
The best way to illustrate fear of success is someone who doesn’t really try that hard. It might not even be within the area of weight loss: it may be in their career or some other domain. Remember the kid at school who never really tried, although you knew they were clever? That’s fear of success.
Because, if you don’t really try all that hard, it feels safer in a way. You don’t expose yourself to judgement or high standards. If you continually underachieve, you might just go under the radar. If you stay small, you aren’t threatening to others. If you do nothing, it sometimes seems easier. But is it? Not when it keeps you stuck, and you remain small and powerless and unsuccessful.
What Does Success Mean?
The reality is that, if you’re successful, any number of new fears could face you. In a way, holding onto the ‘When I…lose weight’ dream that never seems to become a reality is a safety blanket of kinds. It protects you from taking action. For instance, if you finally deal with your emotional eating, you won’t have food as a way to temporarily escape. You’ll have to deal with uncomfortable feelings, such as sadness or anger, because you’re no longer suppressing them with food. So it does bring about new challenges, but it also brings confidence, a sense of achievement and a greater sense of control over your health and your future.
Time to Breakthrough to the Other Side
Our subconscious minds sabotage us, but it’s because that part of our brain believes that rationalising ourselves out of success will, in fact, protect us. We know that’s wrong, although we can still thank our subconscious for attempting to keep us safe.
Try these exercises to help make a breakthrough in identifying how fear of success may be holding you back and how to overcome that fear.
- List 5 reasons why your life will be worse off when you achieve your weight loss (or other) goal. ‘There may be judgement from others’. People will notice that you have lost weight and there may be expectation that you keep the weight off. Or ‘I may be pulled in different directions – my ‘new’ life as a slimmer, fitter person may require that I take time away from family’. Or ‘I’ll no longer have any excuse to feel inadequate, or have a stick to beat myself with, and then what? What if I have a newfound confidence or get too big for my boots?’. Or even, ‘What if I think that reaching my goal weight will make me happy, but it doesn’t?’. We have even had a few clients worried that, once they lose the weight and regain their confidence, they may want to leave an unhappy marriage. That may seem like a step forwards to you (and it is), but the prospect of such a big change can be terrifying for some.
- Now, next to your reasons, write some challenges. Challenge every one of your fears with a counter-argument and a dose of rational thinking. Try to imagine what a friend. or your Weight Loss Consultant, would say to counteract your negative thoughts about succeeding. For instance, in response to, ‘What if I think that reaching my goal weight will make me happy, but it doesn’t’, the counter-argument could be, ‘We can’t guarantee your happiness – only you can do that – but your life will certainly not be the same. Certain things will be easier and more enjoyable, like enjoying nice clothes and not having to constantly obsess about your weight. Also, achieving a goal or dream feels really good. No, it won’t change everything, but it will help grow your confidence, and that’s worth a lot’.
- List 5 reasons your life will be better once you achieve your goal. Examples include, ‘It will give a much-needed boost to my confidence to finally lose the weight’, ‘I’ll be able to enjoy clothes shopping again and I won’t mind my photograph being taken so much’, ‘I’ll have more energy for my kids and I’ll be a role-model for them, showing them that you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it and persist’, ‘I may succeed in other areas of my life once I succeed at this’ and ‘Finally my brain and emotional energy can be spent on other things, rather than continually obsessing on how to lose the weight’.
- Make a list of personality traits or skills you have, and things that you have achieved that you are proud of. Often we don’t give ourselves the credit we deserve. We ‘talk ourselves down’. So, in order to overcome feelings that we don’t deserve success, it can be very helpful to make a note of things that we have achieved; things that we have forgotten or completely underplayed (for instance, living abroad, achieving a qualification, becoming a parent and striving to bring up your children with values and morals), or personality traits that you have (such as empathy, kindness, a sense of humour, flexibility, enthusiasm, curiosity or determination) that you are proud of. If you struggle with this, asked loved ones to help you – you may be surprised and heartened to hear just how highly people think of you, and it may help to get the validation that you so desperately need.
- Write down these mantras and repeat every morning:
- ‘I am worthy of success’
- ‘I CAN succeed and I deserve to succeed’
- ‘I AM good enough’
- ‘I am already a SUCCESS, right now, today’
- ‘I love myself, for who I am today’
You don’t need to be frightened of success any longer – it’s time to step out into the light and to embrace success!