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Fear of Success

I have never been one to fear success.  I love success.  It’s fun.  It feels good.  It leads to praise and rewards.  In fact, one of the major motivating factors in my life has been a fear of failure.  I never want to disappoint people.  And I really like succeeding.

But I went to my dietician’s office last week.  She (as well as multiple other professionals) told me to throw away my scale months ago because of a not so subtle obsession with it.  Because of this, I hadn’t stepped on the scale since my last appointment with her.  I didn’t know what to expect.

I had achieved my goals for the most part.  I had faltered a little the last week of the six, but overall, I had made some great changes.  The changes, however, weren’t life changing.  I had failed my first six weeks because I got overwhelmed and extremely anxious over my goals, so in an effort to start a chain of success, we made them much more manageable.  Perhaps a little too subtle to lose much weight.

I had learned years ago that when I want to make healthy and positive changes that I cannot focus on weight loss.  I have a hormone disorder.  This disorder makes it much more difficult for me to lose weight than other people, and it makes it much more easy for me to gain it.

So in the past, I would focus on positive habits, and I would try to avoid looking at the weight.

The dietician and the doctor and my therapist all recommended that maybe I not look at the number on the scale.  They told me I could look away.  They told me they didn’t need to tell me how much I lost or gained.  They said they could just tell me if I was going in the correct direction.

But I looked.

And for a moment before the number popped up, I didn’t know if I was hoping I had lost, gained, or stayed the same.

And I realized something important in that moment.

I realized that I am absolutely terrified of losing weight.  Like maybe I’m almost as afraid of that as I am of gaining weight.  And if I’m being absolutely honest, maybe I’m more afraid of losing weight than of gaining weight.

That makes no sense, right?  I’ve spent my whole adult life trying to lose weight.  I have a million and ten reasons why I want to lose weight.  I am spending money seeing a doctor and dietician to lose weight.

But really it made all the sense in the world.  In the past when I lost weight, even when I tried not to let anyone notice, people would notice.  It would be all they would talk about.  There would be a lot of hoopla.  And when people get excited, there’s the chance that I can let them down.  This is scary.

In the past when I lost weight, I would get so excited.  I would plan out outfits.  I would feel great about myself.  I would like going out in public.  I would finally feel I was worthy.  I would be very proud of myself.  I would start to get obsessed about it.  It would take over my life.  This is scary.

And in the past, both of those reasons as well as my own mental blocks and disordered eating would cause me to gain the weight back.  All of the esteem (of both others and myself) would be lost.  This is scary.

So at that moment, I realized that when it comes to losing weight, I have two huge fears – the fear of success and the fear of failure.

I guess that means my task now is to banish them both and learn to start from a place that is free of fear.

Fear of Success

This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on June 25, 2018.

Amanda Knapp

Amanda Knapp is a mother, wife, writer, former writing teacher, and lover of the written word. She writes for Psych Central, Mothering, Catholic 365, and her own blog, .

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APA Reference
Knapp, A. (2019). Fear of Success. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 13 May 2019
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