Fear of Success…

Fear of Success

Written by Jodelle Fitzwater, CPT, CNC, CFPC

This may not resonate with everyone on the health and wellness path, but it will resonate with some.

What a client said to me recently really tied up my thoughts for many days while I pondered the statement she made to my question.  I asked her:  “What is it that makes you so afraid to continue once you start on a meal plan? What is it that stops you from continuing on?  What are the triggers that cause you to give up and throw in the towel. Help me understand you.”

 This is what she said, “I guess it’s a fear of success. Is that crazy?”

I sat and contemplated those words.  I had no response to her answer except for “No it’s not crazy, it’s honest and I appreciate that.”

But I had to take some time to really grasp onto what fear of success could mean.  This woman had tried every diet, every fitness fad, every trendy workout, every healthy food, and tackled each endeavor with gusto while each time getting results…and then, she stopped.  She would then go back to ways of food destruction of indulging in sugar, eating after everyone went to bed, and eating all the “comfort foods” she longed for, only to wake once again, the morning after with discomfort and repeat the whole cycle.

Fear of success…I had to break it down.

  • Someone experiences success and then for whatever reason becomes afraid of the successful results.
  • Is it a fear of a continued success?
  • Does the responsibility of keeping the success going intimidate them so much that they don’t want the responsibility and would rather stay stuck where they are?
  • Or does the successful results create too much change in their life (change of size, change of clothing, change of friends or environment)?
  • Fear of change, maybe?
  • Perhaps they don’t want to have to change the food they make for their family, so they resist the idea of change.
  •  Perhaps they don’t want to miss out on friends who frequent favorite fast food establishments with them, or favorite bars, and perhaps they don’t want to forego the unhealthy habits they need to change, in order to continue along the path of success?
  • Maybe once they taste success, it tastes like a lot of “too good to be true” and tastes to rich to sustain.

Okay, then maybe, just maybe, fear of success, is really “fear of failure”.  For someone can’t fail if they never succeed in the first place right? The goals have been made.  The inches are coming off, and the clothes are fitting looser.  The scale is going down.  What now?  What’s going to happen if I binge a little? What then?  What if people see me as a smaller me and make all these changes, and then watch me gain it all back?


What if I don’t recognize the “me” in the mirror I’ve always seen?

That may frighten me. What if I actually do reach my ideal weight, and achieve all my fitness and health goals? Can I keep it up?  What if I don’t?  What if I don’t succeed after my success? What if I fail?

I believe this to be a valid fear for some out there dealing with weight issues.  I believe fear of success, is really fear of failure.  But I also believe this can be remedied.  Not all, but many people with this kind of thinking have what I call a “brain chemistry” malfunction.

It’s not lack of willpower.  It’s not lack of self-esteem.  It’s not lack of self-control.

It’s actually an issue of low brain neurotransmitters! And given the right boost of aminos and other supplements you can see past the fears to take “one pound at a time”, “one inch at a time”, “one workout at time” without feeling like it’s all or nothing and without the constant anxiety of failing.  One tormenting symptom of low serotonin (or the “Feel Good” neurotransmitter) is FALSE FEAR.

Whether you classify your symptoms as shyness, worry, anxiety, or panic, your fear quotient is a good gauge of how low on serotonin you actually are.  Perhaps as a child you always had phobias or fears, or low self-esteem, constant worry and anxiety, or were extremely introverted, and perhaps you justified that “this is just the way I am” or “it’s just a part of my personality”.  Or perhaps you have fought these feelings all your life with therapy, medication, and self-help books but to no avail. Fears and phobias are a classic symptom of low serotonin.  But just to clarify, let me show you some other symptoms so perhaps you can see that it isn’t “just the way you are” or “your personality”.  It’s something that can be remedied and it’s not your fault.  Here are some (not all) other common low serotonin symptoms:

-Digestive problems

-sleep problems, restless sleep, insomnia, trouble falling/staying asleep


-cravings for sugar and carbohydrates

-cravings for alcohol and or drugs

-Instead of enjoying family members you get irritated with them


-hate hot weather

-Obessesive compulsive tendencies

And there is more…


If you are reading this and this seems to be resonating with you there is hope and there is tools to help you.  It begins with healing the brain chemistry and then the fear in general will fade.

  • GABA is an amino acid that raises serotonin naturally and induces a calm, collected feeling within.
  • 5-Htp is an amino acid that amps up serotonin production and eases sugar and carb cravings, also calming the “hamster wheel of thoughts” at nighttime.
  •  St. John’s Wort, known as the “happy herb” that raises serotonin where some amino acids do not.  In many places St. John’s Wort outsells Prozac and studies have shown it out performs Prozac as well.
  • SAM-e, a chemical found naturally in every cell of the body and for whatever reason can be systemically low in certain individuals but when supplemented with, can be one of the most powerful anti-depressant and mood lifters around.  I inform you of supplements because that’s what they are: supplements to a healthy lifestyle.  Food contains natural aminos but in individuals with low serotonin, sometimes we can’t get enough from food alone.  Eating high protein foods will help, but not enough in those with low brain chemistry.

If the above article has helped you understand that perhaps fear of success isn’t so unusual for you, but yet deep inside you really want to succeed…no need to be overwhelmed by fear no matter how real it feels.  You are unlimited.  You have underneath the symptoms the ability to succeed with no cravings, no drawbacks, no phobias, no obsessive thoughts.  Together, we will peel away the veil that keeps you from feeling good and becoming all that you desire and all that you were created for!  Ask any questions or post any comments on this in the comment section below. I’m happy to answer questions.

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