3 Journal Prompts to Help You Beat the Fear of Winning
What is the fear of winning? Most of us fear failure. If you live with social anxiety, you probably fear it even more so. It might be surprising then, to realize that in addition to your fear of failure there is another fear lurking. One that you might not have thought about much or even believed could be a fear.
That fear is the fear of success.
The fear of winning.
The fear of doing well.
The fear of being recognized for your accomplishments.
Does this sound like you?
There are many reasons why people with social anxiety might fear success. At it’s core, what you are really afraid of is a change in the status quo. As much as you might dislike your life, yourself, your job, your anxiety…. it’s what you know. Success… that’s a bit scary, whether it’s social success, work success, financial success. It feels like that would come with responsibilities that you don’t know whether you can handle.
Why We Fear Winning
In the case of social anxiety in particular, you might literally be afraid of being thrust into the limelight because of your success.
Imagine winning the lottery. Writing a bestseller. There’s a reason why some authors/musicians/actors become private people—they were not prepared for what success would bring.
Another reason you might fear success is that you are worried others will be mad, envious, jealous, or hurt. If you are moving up, you might feel like you are leaving others behind. People with social anxiety are highly attuned to what other people are thinking/feeling, and you may worry that your success will come at the cost of other people’s happiness or their liking you.
Do You Have a Fear of Winning?
How do you know if your fear of success or fear of winning is holding you back?
Ask yourself the following:
Have you ever….
- Done destructive things to handicap yourself from succeeding?
- Refused to set goals so that you had no chance of success?
- Been close to success or nearly reached a goal and then suddenly changed paths to avoid going all the way? For example, not taking that last course toward getting your degree or closed down a business just when you started to attract more customers?
If so, it could be that the fear of winning is holding you back from reaching your goals or trying your hardest.
Research on the Fear of Winning and Social Anxiety
Fear of success or fear of winning may be closely related to a fear of positive evaluation, which has been studied extensively by researchers in terms of how it relates to social anxiety, perfectionism, depression, etc. What we know is that fear of positive evaluation is a real problem for people with social anxiety. People who have a fear of positive evaluation also tend to have problems with perfectionism to the point that it interferes with their lives. And in a circular way, people who are perfectionists may actually develop social anxiety if they have a tendency to fear positive evaluation.
Overcome Your Fear of Success
Beyond simply working on your social anxiety/perfectionism, there are specific things you can do to stop handicapping yourself from achieving success. You’ve probably been on the brink of it many times. You may have even felt it, achieved it, gotten there.. but got scared and dropped back into anonymity.
What I’d like you to do is to answer the following journaling prompts:
1. What are you afraid will happen if you achieve success?
2. How realistic is it that those things will actually happen?
3. If they did happen, what could you do to cope?
The idea is to become very concrete about your fears so that you can better evaluate them. You can’t deal with what you haven’t acknowledged. Once you’ve identified your fears and methods of coping with “worst case scenarios,” you may find it easier to stay on the path that takes you toward success.
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