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Old 09-29-2009, 04:59 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Fear of success


This topic has been showing up a lot lately. It probably belongs in Secular, and there might be a threadd about it that I've missed.

I'm reading "Self-Discipline in 10 Days: How to Go from Thinking to Doing" by T. Bryant (will post a review in the Book Club when I'm done, great stuff!). The book includes several short written exercises that help examine the fears in the reader's life: fear of success, failure, rejection, mediocrity and risks.

Now, I firmly believe that there is no such thing as "failing" whenever someone is trying to overcome addiction. IMHO relapse, though undesirable, is NOT failing.

However, being an overachiever, I was absolutely amazed to discover the impact that fear of success, of all things, has in *many* areas of my life - especially when it comes to addiction. I'd like to share what I wrote, hopefully get some feedback:

"I gave up drinking last year, but I hate to admit that the door may still be open... months have passed since my last drink, and I'm actually doing this. I was so scared of (failing) back then, I would never have believed I'd get this far. But I have refused to mark my milestones... to enjoy reaching my goals...

I've also refused to make my quit date public in SR. Am I scared of failing? No, I don't think so. I've never been scared to admit my relapses, with no feeling of self-worth lost. Feeling no shame or embarrassment.This makkes no sense.

Maybe drinking again doesn't scare me as much as the idea of actually succeeding. Of looking back one day and saying, "hey, it's been 10 years!". The days keep piling up and, instead of feeling growing relief and gratitude, I feel pressured... petrified. The drop keeps getting higher and higher. But why the fck am I looking downwards, instead of upwards?! (...)

Is it possible that I'd rather (fail) over and over again for no valid reason, instead of actually enjoying my accomplishments so far? Why am I scared of reaching my goals? (...)"


Ugh, I know this isn't group therapy. I'll submit this before I lose my nerve.
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Old 09-29-2009, 05:18 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Matty, fear of success was huge for me and caused me to continue drinking much too long.

Every time I would get a few sober days, my anxiety level would rise and I would think, what if this works? what will happen? And, the fear of succeeding would drive me back to drinking. I had been told all my life that I was not good enough, so I was used to feeling like a failure. It was familiar and even comfortable. Success on the other hand was scary.

I had to make myself believe that I deserved a good life before I could get past that hurdle.
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Old 09-29-2009, 05:21 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Staying stuck in an uncomfortable comfort zone? I don't know, Matt. I do that...I'm not sure that's what you're talking about, though.

I wish I could help.
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Old 09-29-2009, 05:34 AM   #4 (permalink)
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fear of success.. Yep! i have had more than a few people tell me they have seen that very thing in me over the years. if i only focus and worry about today it helps me greatly!
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Old 09-29-2009, 06:06 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Fear of success...... I would put that right up there with fear of the unknown!

Now when it comes to sobriety, for me I did have a huge fear of succeeding at staying sober because it had been so long since I had faced life with out a drink in my hand or in my immediate future that I had absolutely no idea what life would be like sober, especially long term, no escape from reality or problems in my future, that scared the heck out of me!

What got me through the early stages of my fear of success at staying sober was so many other people in the fellowship that had stayed sober for many years and they were for the most part successful in life overall, they were happy, and they had an air of self confidence and serenity. Their long term sobriety and what it brought to them gave me the hope that I too could succeed and be glad I did and not scared.

Matt I too have been an over achiever, but in retrospect, one primary reason I had little to no fears of success in areas I have succeeded in was because of the success of others in the same area that I knew about.

In other words seeing others success in areas has helped me in overcoming my fear of the unknown.

Before I got into AA I had no face to face idea that people like me were able to stay sober and lead fullfilling lifes, before alcohol owned me out right, I would quit drinking and then life became real, I had no idea if it was possible to face it long term sober, this was looking back on it one of the main reasons I would start drinking again, I was miserable and scared that if I did stay sober that life would stay just as miserable as it was with out a drink. I had no hope! In AA I found that hope.

BTW this line here Matt I found a bit confusing:

Quote:
This topic has been showing up a lot lately. It probably belongs in Secular, and there might be a threadd about it that I've missed.

I'm reading "Self-Discipline in 10 Days: How to Go from Thinking to Doing"
Why would this belong in secular? Do not get me wrong, I am not saying it would not have been accepted in Secular, but this is an excellent topic in any forum here.
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Old 09-29-2009, 06:44 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Oh My matty. I know how you feel to a point.

You already know how I feel about counting days. So now I have to question whether it is for the same reasons. I feel alot of pressure from counting days. But I think thats from not wanting to fail and start that clock over again and again. Cause that is what I am use to.

I too have no problem admitting my screw ups. And I couldnt even really tell you my clean date. Not exactly.

I dont hink it is so much fear of success. As it is maybe like me. It seems when thigns go good it is only a matter of time before I fall again. So has been my pattern. I either get too complacent and screw up thinking I am fine. Or I let my guard down and think, I have been doing so good. One time wont hurt and it wont even be a problem. We all know that is BS.

It always seems for me that when things go really well, I get it in my mind that its safe. It will never be completely safe.

We are so use to walking on egg shells all the time. That I think its weird for us to be ok with where we are. To not feel some kind of worry or anxiety.

Its like if I relax at any moment it will all go to ****.

But since I have been feeling this whatever it is that snapped a few months ago. And its still goin strong!! I can be ok with myself. I dont obsess about using or not using anymore. I can get my paycheck and the first thing that pops in my mind isnt gettin ghigh or resisiting it.

I think you just come to a place where it just happens. Without even relizing it.
And then just run with it.
There is no pressure for anything anymore.
Because my obsession is gone.
I will be honest and say that you are very guarded sometimes. Geez how long did it take me to know where you are. It was like where in the world is matty..LOL
But we are naturally like that. Especially given the situation and atmosphere.
I think you should be more open. I love ya matty. And you are always so honest and caring when you are giving your support. How bout doing that with yourself?
I know you are doing so good. Enjoy it and be proud. There is nothing to be scared of. his is why we get sober. To be happy and successful in whatever our hearts desire.
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Old 09-29-2009, 07:18 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I have always struggled with a fear of suceeding or of living up to my own and others expectations of me.

This got to the point where I like, a lot of others I have spoken to, sabotaged every aspect of my life.

And drinking when there was any chance of forward progression is a prime example of how I acheived this self sabotage.

Using alcohol in this manner of course leads to worse consequences than simply failing at work or in study.

So now the fear of having to live up to my capabilities and responsibilities is now all tied up in my fear of life without alcohol.

All I can do at the moment is concentrate on my sobriety, once fears and worries of future events and aims become involved I get all muddled up in the mess I have let my life become.

Thanks for bringing this subject up Matt because it is something I am going to have to deal with in the near future, I need to find out where and when I became so afraid of pushing myself to suceed that I just gave up trying, I know it began when I was really young but have no idea why.

Looks like therapy may be playing a big part in my future lol
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Old 09-29-2009, 08:47 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I'm another overachiever with a fear of success. It's a complicated fear and one I'm really going to have to work on.

There's this little voice, okay, you succeeded this time. Everybody's counting on you. Will you succeed next time? time after that? What if I don't succeed every, single time?

Not even scratching the surface on this one.
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Old 09-29-2009, 09:52 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Thanks for bringing this up matt...I to have always had some fear of success...I've always known I could do anything I ever wanted to do in life...but for whatever reason I never really reached any of my dreams...I would get close a few times but then would always back off, give up, get drunk, stoned etc and head off in another direction. I'm really not sure why, it's got to be related to being told you couldn't do things when you were younger...I know I was told those things...I always rebelled against it and told anyone who told me I couldn't do something to F**K OFF and kept on trying to do what they said I couldn't...I always thought my attitude would keep me immune from succumbing to the negativity of being told I couldn't do something...but I think if you get told enough times it somehow, on a subconscious level, seeps in and becomes a belief. I think that is what happened to me...thus I sabotage myself right when I am on the brink of success. I'm not sure how to get over it...maybe therapy, maybe just by recognizing it and journaling about? Thanks again for bringing this up, I hadn't thought about it in a long time.
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Old 09-29-2009, 12:41 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Yikes, this time I really put myself out there. Okay.

Taz, I agree with you, fear is one of the hallmarks of addiction. I just think this post would belong in secular because it deals with irrational beliefs, CBT, etc. Like 24Hrs said, I can see how AA would help in this department too... it's definitely ODAAT

Anna, PrimalScream, your descriptions are crystal clear... it all sounds contradictory because it IS contradictory, LOL. Or counter-intuitive. The challenge is to find the irrational unconscious beliefs that cause these conflicts - this "self-sabotage", in OzSandy's words. I can relate to that 100%.

Ally, from what I gather, most fears -including fear of success- are planted during childhood. In fact, this book is big on that topic, as most of the exercises involve dredging up the distant past to find events that might have reinforced these beliefs. Specifically, you are asked to identify childhood situations in which you succeeded and that later brought about problems.

Seemingly inconsequential successes like mowing the lawn for the first time, then being asked to do it every single weekend, LOL... Or studying your butt off (to please parents + teachers with your marks), only to find that you've alienated your classmates -and even yourself- in the process.

These things might sound silly *now*, but they all added up, until you find yourself dreading success because you (falsely) believe that it will only bring additional problems. That's the uncomfortable comfort zone, Bam

Mariechi, your post made me cringe lol. I can so relate to that too. Pressure, demands... that "very good, now do it again!" Eeek.

Trish You know me too well, LOL. Yeah, I'm guarded - I wasn't always like this, though... despite all this fear of success and failure rant, my biggest fear is getting hurt again. Always looking for trouble when I could be relaxing... and sometimes relaxing so much that I fall off the chair.

Thanks for letting me share..
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Old 09-29-2009, 01:27 PM   #11 (permalink)
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This is a tough subject. I've had recent financial success which I don't attribute to drinking or not drinking actually. We opened up an office and things went crazy really. I'm not sure why I like to drink. I mean there is some physical addiction I'm sure. I've been not drinking during the week pretty well and then I let it loose on the weekends. I'm in the gym 5 days a week so I'm doing a lot of things right. Despite that, I have physical things that scare me. The cravings are there. I know some people that drink more and harder and have nothing physically wrong with them. I could be a hypochondriac(sp?). My health insurance policy is effective on 10/01 so I can go get blood work and see if anything is wrong. Last time I was worried, nothing at all was wrong. I've convinced myself that my eyes are yellowing, my liver hurts, that I have diabetes, hypoglycemia, etc. If nothing else I should quit entirely to end the paranoia of it all.
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