The Ambition Stagnator and Dream Killer: Procrastination
“The greatest barrier to success is fear itself” Sven Goran Ericksson
Excerpt from Paulet Biedermann’s book, “Your Best You”
The mind is one of the most complex components of the human body. The more we discover about humanity and the human psych, the more we realize how little we know. If you should confer with anyone that studies the mind, or work with mental, behavioural or emotional issues: Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Theorists, Counsellors, Therapist or Sociologists, they will tell you one thing, and that is, that they have not fully grasp the way in which the human mind works.
The behavioural pattern, thinking process, cognition, social interaction and just about anything and everything that concerns humanity’s functionality is not fully understood. The one thing that I am sure that most researchers will agree on, is that regardless of the discipline, they will all agree on the complexity of the human mind. Yes, it is indeed complex. We have learned a lot about the human mind and how it functions: its resilience and vulnerability. Researchers continually make valuable break-through with regards to how our minds work. Nonetheless, there are still more work to be done.
There are certain individuals that suffer from personality disorders. And to take it a bit further, you need to know that some of the people who self sabotage do have consciences and often are not in these groups. Please note as well that it can sometimes be the case that some individuals are suffering from dual or concurrent disorders. For example, the person who self sabotages can be depressed or suffering from Borderline Personality disorder or some other emotional or mental disorder, for instance, depression, low self concept/ esteem. This is not unusual in our patient population who suffer from emotional or psychological disorders.
According to Psychologist Dr. Nathaniel Branden,” if at the core I don’t feel worthy of success or happiness, I most likely will not attain it and even if I do, I am unlikely to enjoy it.” When a person feels that he or she is not deserving of success, then self sabotage is inevitable. This is one way of ensuring that you are not successful.
Even though the focus of this article is fear of success, a true picture cannot be given without also defining fear of failure. What exactly are we talking about when we refer to Fear of Success and Fear of failure ? Even though very different, they manifest similar signs and symptoms. For our purposes, we will define both phrases, but the bulk of our focus will be on fear of success.
A) Fear of Failure is defined as: An unfounded and irrational fear that one will not succeed. These individuals are very critical of themselves. They avoid taking risks and when they make a mistake, instead of trying to give it another go, they confirm to themselves that the mistake is proof that they are not capable.
B) Fear of success is very complex than having an unreasonable fear of failing. Research has shown that fear of success is closely related to procrastination as well as the state of one’s self esteem. A good part of this condition is subconscious. Therefore not easily identified or treated without professional help. Along with the varying signs and symptoms, theorists and researchers have offered a wide range of causative agents and as well as treatment modes. Mental Health Practitioners usually employ a combination of methods while guiding the individual to self explore. Together they not only identify the signs, symptoms and contributing factors, but as well, treatment management and or therapeutic interventions. As you can see based on the above definitions; Fear of success is a lot more complex than having an unreasonable fear of failing.

Some contributing factors to “Fear of Success”:

 Childhood - certain irrational fears are developed in childhood. Children who grow up to be self sabotaging usually come from a dysfunctional family. This is not always the case. When a parent is critical of the child, the child will most likely internalize her critics’ perception of her and apply it to herself.
 Low self esteem - the individual does not have much confidence in his or her capabilities. They often think that they are not good enough or worthy enough for success and happiness.
 Generalized anxiety - some individuals suffer with generalized anxiety without known origin. The individual imposes limitations on his or her activities due to fear.
 Some underlying psychopathology that is not diagnosed.
 Need to conform - social acceptance.
 Difficulty coping with change.
 False self perception with regards to capabilities.
 Self-fulfilling prophecies.
The above list is by no means exhausted, but at least it gives you an idea as to some of the widely accepted contributing factors.

Signs and Symptoms of “Fear of Success”

1) Procrastination - the individual does not fulfill his obligation in a timely manner. Keeps avoiding scheduled activities and sometimes wastes time on insignificant things.
2) Inability to make decisions. Does not trust herself.
3) Distorted thinking - the person misinterprets reality in a subjective way.
4) Low self worth.
5) Distrust one’s judgement. Lacking in confidence with regards to one’s right to happiness.
6) Self limiting aspiration/undermine his or her abilities.
7) Diminished self value.
8) Pessimistic life views.
9) Distorted “other view” or world view. (For instance, may see the world as a very dangerous place-without evidence.)
10) Generalized anxiety.
11) Self sabotage that manifests itself in various ways and will sometimes encompass some of the above.
12) Self sabotage that manifests itself in various ways and will sometimes encompass some of the above.

Make the Change: Defeat The Fear of Success:

As you may have noticed, most of the signs and symptoms related to Fear of Success include but are not limited to: procrastination, stress, anxiety, negative self talk and distorted views. The following interventions are geared to helping you to successfully eliminate these unwanted pests and regain control of your life.
1. Identify Specific signs and symptoms of your fear for example, anxiety and work towards eliminating them.
2. Relaxation Techniques-breathing exercises
3. Affirmation
4. Countering negative self talk
5. Visualization: relaxation, guidance,
6. Self hypnosis
7. Meditation

Be aware of your emotional reaction.
Fear of success has a lot of signs and symptoms that are associated with it. Some are emotional while others are physical. One key component is the emotional reaction to certain stimuli. It is imperative that you are aware of this and learn adaptive ways of dealing with stimuli. It is not an emotional problem but has an emotional component. One revolving door for the individuals who is afraid of success is this: Procrastinate –consequence-anxiety-procrastination-consequence-anxiety. By understanding, the trigger for anxiety is procrastination it allows you the opportunity to prevent the consequence by eliminating the behaviour.

Counter negative self talk
Negative self talk is part and parcel of the fear of success syndrome. You are very critical of your self and quite often it is totally unmerited. You convince yourself that whatever your internal critic tells you is gospel and therefore you buy into the negativity. There are several techniques to counter negative self talk. One of which is positive self talk. Here is an example, Joe’s critic constantly tells him he is a looser; he believes he is and without evidence to back up his critic’s claim, and behaves accordingly. Joe would do well to tell these critics to back off.
Always see the glass half full.
Researchers have found that people whose out look is positive seem to enjoy a lot more benefits than the negative pessimistic people. They are happier, less prone to illness, both psychological and physical. Even though someone may spend his or her entire life looking at things negatively, he or she can turn that around and start thinking positively. This most likely will be challenging at times but persevere and you will reap the benefits.
Create a master plan for your future:
There is nothing more rewarding in life than setting your goals and attaining them. Just like a business plan, you would not start a business without making a business plan; would you? If your answer is yes, then you are setting your self up for failure. Ensure that you include goals for three months, six months, one year, three years, five years and up to ten years. This is not only something to guide your actions, but a very powerful motivator as well.
Raise your self esteem:
Low self esteem is a spin off from fear of success. Self esteem and self confidence are often tied to accomplishments. When your self esteem is low, it’s hard to feel good or accomplish much of anything. You often feel inadequate. You need to realize that self esteem plays a major role in the choices and decisions that shape your life. Just like low self esteem allows you to devalue yourself and your capabilities, a healthy self image is very powerful in helping to shape your outlook and your decisions.
Become a bounce back artist:
Failure is not always a bad thing. It only becomes a defeat if you don’t learn from it. Each time you don’t succeed, it helps you become stronger, more experienced and more resilient. Always bear in mind that life is about ups and downs, rising and falling. Each time you fall, you become more resilient; unless of course, you decide not to get back up.
Give thanks for every success no matter how small:
A lot of people often forget to give thanks, but it is a very crucial endeavour to always remember to give thanks. Some of the benefits of giving thanks are: it helps to increase your confidence, others are more eager to help you, it also brings with it a sense of joy and satisfaction.
Strengthen your coping skills:
The way we cope with stressors is on an individual basis. Even though we may be faced with similar situations, we cope quite differently. We learn to cope with situations from childhood that is when we learn our various coping strategies. Sometimes we are not exposed to the best coping skills but we can learn adoptive ways to cope and this is why the self help industry has flourished..
In closing, there is hardly anything that is more empowering than taking responsibility for your life and the important decisions that need to be made with regards to your wellbeing. Passivity and dependence are not the way to go. These are extremely disempowering and stifling. Just think for a moment, the joy, the satisfaction and the pride you feel when you are successful. This is evident even in the smallest accomplishment. Self sabotage is a classic symptom of fair of success but is totally manageable with some basic intervention.
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Author's Bio: 

Paulet Biedermann is the author of of 2 two books: "Your Best You" and "Dear Me, I almost forgot To say I love"

She is a Counsellor, psychotherapist and an entertainment consultant and motivational speaker.