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Fear of Success

Old 01-28-2009, 04:04 AM
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Fear of Success

Lately, I've been realizing that a major obstacle to what's been holding me back in life is a deep fear of success. I think this is directly tied to my mother.

Whether she instilled it in me herself (at some times she did), or if it's guilt, I've always been afraid of becoming happy and successful than she is. Part of the reason is because I fears she'll try to take it away from me. There have been many times that she did try to take something good from me, whether I already had it or it was prospect on the horizon. I think there has been a deep competiveness with me and feeling of inferiority (I'll never forget the time I came home with a gift I had bought for myself with my own money and I was suddenly a 'greedy snob').

I am trying not to think this way anymore, but it's really hard when you've thought this way your whole life, subconciously. Now she's been trying to help me out more by giving me helpful advice, listening to me more than doing all the talking, her no longer flinching when I tell her that things are going pretty well (or me having to hide that fact from her), and even though feel like something has been lifted, but I think there's a long way to go yet on my end anyway.

I just thought I would bring this up since I have read about it alot in ACOA literature. However, I didn't see it listed in the 13 Characteristics of ACOA's in this forum.

-LD
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Old 01-28-2009, 05:43 AM
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i recently thought of that too but about my dad. it seems he did everything he could to try to prevent me from achieving any kind of personal success and then would whine about how all his children are losers!!!!! So now I can see something about his super large alcoholic ego was unable to separate/distinguish from his kids. as though we were extensions of him and so we had to do it his way...and anything other that his way he would show no support whatsoever. funny though now that he has gotten into the same vocation, it is ok for me to be doing it "with his blessings" even though he is more like competing now instead. makes me kind of mad of what i have lost because i knuckled under to him and didn't do it my way even if that meant sleeping in my car!

But i have understanding now, that i did the best i could with what i had, and it is fairly difficult when your "family" is really not much of any kind of support system for you. they were more like let's pull the rug out from under you whenever we feel like it.
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Old 01-28-2009, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by LaDita View Post
I came home with a gift I had bought for myself with my own money and I was suddenly a 'greedy snob'
It's like they want you to succeed, but they still want you to play in their backyard and be content. Be successful in their definitions of success (whether it's have a man or good job, etc.) but DON'T reward yourself for it - oh no. Don't give yourself any credit - don't earn any self-esteem. I don't think alcoholic parents consciously mean to instill these feelings, but I do believe they do it because they're afraid of you abandoning them. The problem is that even though they're afraid, they're still behaving selfishly and not in your best interests.

My AF does this without blinking. He is very manipulative, and will get other family members to repeat his ideas to you, smothering you in an environment of discouraging opinions. When I finally moved away (was living an hour from home, in a town my AF was determined I would settle down in - so nice and close!) I got all kinds of manipulative messages as to why I would fail, such as I'll NEVER find a decent job on my own. He's even said, "girls in this family never leave home", when he first caught wind of my decision. There was a whirlwind of guilt tactics to resist escalating right up until I left - not excluding tears, tantrums, you name it.

You're not alone. I have definitely noticed that I even sabatoge myself. I get too nervous, like someone is making a terrible mistake giving me so much credit. Like for example, I won't apply for a good job because I expect that I'll be terrible at it, so why go through the hassle and humiliation? I'll mess it up somehow, you know? And this attitude doesn't fit my outward appearance; I'm textbook the kind of person who is successful, has it all together, etc. I don't need any help - a quality which has been a barrier in my previous relationships.

How's that for ACoA self-talk
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Old 01-28-2009, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by escape artist View Post
something about his super large alcoholic ego was unable to separate/distinguish from his kids. as though we were extensions of him and so we had to do it his way...and anything other that his way he would show no support whatsoever.
Yes yes YES this is my AF to a tee. I'm his academic dream (went to university) and my brother is his athletic dream (star on a sport's team). He's been obsessed with these qualities in his children, and often takes credit for these specific successes (it's only because of his hard work and encouragement that we were successful in the first place, right?). When we've complained about how much pressure he puts on us, he denies any connection. Quite frankly that pressure is there because unless you're successful, you don't get attention from dad. It's one of the few things that distract him from alcohol.

My sister suffered from this attitude especially (lost child); she wasn't talented at anything obvious, so she was basically ignored her entire life. My AF has always seen her as a failure, and has always put her down. She has moved away from the family, gone back to school, and is succeeding despite many challenges exacerbated by limited personal support. These days AF visibly tries to lord over her, but is limited to petty things like where to hang a wall poster or buy shoes. It's sickening to watch, but she is getting better at ignoring it.


Originally Posted by escape artist View Post
it is fairly difficult when your "family" is really not much of any kind of support system for you. they were more like let's pull the rug out from under you whenever we feel like it.
I call this phenomenon "set up to fail" in my family.
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Old 01-28-2009, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by escape artist View Post
i recently thought of that too but about my dad. it seems he did everything he could to try to prevent me from achieving any kind of personal success and then would whine about how all his children are losers!!!!!

This sounds exactly like the crazy work-aholic woman that I was 'passed on to' when I was a teenager while my mom was away working in another state, or too drunk & psycho to live with.
It was always "Get a job!" or "Do something with yourself!" yet, any time I got a job or "Did something with myself", she'd roll her eyes and cut it down any way she could. Ironically she is not an alcoholic, but her two son's (who she coddled and treated way better than she did me) have been in and out of jail and treatment centers for the last three years. Her response to that? NOTHING.
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Old 01-30-2009, 08:42 PM
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I can relate. I am 53 years old and my mother has never paid me a complement. The only thing she can do is criticize and tell me how I will never be able to do that.

I just do it anyway. It's my life, not hers any more. Her negative talk takes away my serenity, so I limit my conversations with her.

Don't let a parent or realitive get to you like that. Do it anyway for YOU. You can be successful without your parent's permission.
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