Success is never guaranteed for anyone. However, if our efforts don’t come to fruition, then we’d like to think we did everything we could and the reasons for failure were largely out of our control.
This is not the case for a large portion of people. Many people suffer from debilitating fears that, knowingly or not, cause them to scupper their own chances of success.
These are not your typical phobias. They are psychological fears that are ingrained into every action a person takes.
However, they can be beaten and the biggest aspect of this is to realise that you may suffer from them. Most people that do experience these fears never really put a name on it, or identify them for what they are. Instead other excuses are instead used and the problem is never addressed.
Take a look at the two fears below. These are some of the biggest fears that prevent people from reaching their full potential. However, with help they can be overcome and people are free again to reach their ambitions fully.
A Psychological Fear of Failure.
A strong fear of failure can prevent us from succeeding in both our personal and professional lives. A fear of failure is in essence a fear of shame. People work incredibly hard not to fail, rather than to succeed.
They may be the same you might think, but there are stark psychological differences between the two.
People who work in order to achieve success usually do so in an excited, motivated and healthy manner. However, people that are motivated not to fail, do so in order to avoid the deep sense of shame they know comes with failure. While trying not to fail, their work comprises feelings of disappointment, frustration, confusion and angst.
This is not a healthy environment to work in.
In psychological terms, shame is a highly toxic emotion as it doesn’t only make us feel bad about our efforts, it makes us feel bad about who we are. It can completely destroy a person’s self-esteem.
To combat the extensive damage of failure, people who have a heightened sense of fear will often self-sabotage their efforts in an unconscious manner, in order to lessen the implications back on themselves.
For example, if someone has a driving test they may spend time getting their car cleaned rather than putting in a final lesson. In this way, if failure happens, they can use the excuse “I didn’t get enough practice.”
Thus, the fear of failure prevents a person from realising success.
Interesting articles to read include:
- The Fear of Failure – by Bill Cole, MS, MA
- Fear of failure affects lifelong learning – The British Psychological Society
Being ‘Found Out.’
Otherwise known as Imposter Syndrome, is an internal fear a person has that makes them feel that they’re not good enough. They are unable to accept their own accomplishments and are frequently worried that other people will identify them as a ‘fraud’.
This syndrome is common among high-achievers and while you may feel alone with this particular feeling, rest assured that many people feel the same and manage to overcome it.
The term “impostor syndrome” appeared in an article written by Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes who observed many high-achieving women believed they were not intelligent, and that they were over-evaluated by others. Other common findings included:
- Diligence: Gifted people often work hard in order to prevent people from discovering that they are “impostors.” This hard work often leads to more praise and success, which perpetuates the impostor feelings and fears of being “found out.” The “impostor” person may feel they need to work two or three times as hard, so over-prepare, tinker and obsess over details, says Young. This can lead to burnout and sleep deprivation.
- Feeling of being phony: Those with impostor feelings often attempt to give supervisors and professors the answers that they believe they want, which often leads to an increase in feeling like they are “being a fake.”
- Use of charm: Connected to this, gifted women often use their intuitive perceptiveness and charm to gain approval and praise from supervisors and seek out relationships with supervisors in order to help her increase her abilities intellectually and creatively. However, when the supervisor gives her praise or recognition, she feels that this praise is based on her charm and not on ability.
- Avoiding display of confidence: Another way that a person can perpetuate their impostor feelings is to avoid showing any confidence in their abilities. A person dealing with impostor feelings may believe that if they actually believe in their intelligence and abilities they may be rejected by others. Therefore, they may convince themselves that they are not intelligent or do not deserve success to avoid this.
Studies Initially focused on women, however recent studies suggest that men are also as prone to experiencing impostor syndrome.
Studies also found that as many as 2 in 5 successful people consider themselves frauds.
There are ways to overcome these feelings and the worst thing you can do, as most people who experience these feelings do, is stay silent. Talk to people about how you’re feeling and you will most likely see that your fears are completely misplaced. You can also consider finding a psychologist experienced in this area to help you through it.
Remember you’re not alone. This is experienced by many high achievers and successful people.
For more reading on this, here are some excellent articles on the subject:
- No, You’re Not An Imposter – SCIENCE
- When Women Feel Like Frauds They Fuel Their Own Failures – Forbes