326 | Do You Subconsciously Resist Success?

Do you fear success? For most of us, it’s as common as fearing failure, but much more subtle…

Have you ever felt like pure joy or happiness, and then the next moment felt a sense of anxiety? When things are going really well in life, do you start wondering…when is the ‘shoe going to drop’? Or find yourself wandering down the “What if?” paths?

“Joy is the most vulnerable emotion we experience. And if you cannot tolerate joy, what you do is start dress rehearsing tragedy.” ~Brené Brown

Fear of success is exhausting, and it keeps us from experiencing joy and deep peace.

Learn the 3 signs you fear success, and how to experience more peace:

  • How fear of success negatively affects us [4:23]
  • Surface level responses vs root system [7:44]
  • How we begin to fear success [8:25]
  • Getting free from fearing success [11:28]
  • Weekly action steps [14:43]


Episode: Understanding Your Root System

Creating A Legacy with Tom Ziglar

Battling Fear of Failure

Download the episode

Continue scrolling for the full transcript:

Chris LoCurto: Welcome to the Chris LoCurto show where we discuss leadership and life and discover that business is what you do, not who you are.

Welcome to the show folks. We hope that you are having a phenomenal day today. We’re going to talk about the elephant in the room. Now we hear all the time about fear of failure. We talk about it all the time. That is one of the things that we discover often here, whether it’s in life, leadership or business. We’re always seeing this fear of failure. Everybody knows people fear failure. And we talk about it a lot. But we don’t talk often about the fear of success. Now you may hear that. And, a friend of mine, Claire Diaz Ortez, had me on her work by design summit. She is phenomenal love her, great, amazing. And as she’s interviewing me on this summit that she’s doing with all these leaders, we were talking about some things and I hit this part about the fear of success. And she goes, yeah, but that’s not real, is it?

And I said, well, it’s interesting because you come from a strong family, phenomenal family. Always pushed you to succeed, always helped you to get there. So fear of success is not even something you think about. I said, but take the person who actually comes from a family, that every time they try and get ahead, every time they try and do something successful, they’re shot down or they’re told that’s never going to work, or they’re told, well, don’t get used to that. Or they hear all of these things telling them that they’re not deserving of that success, that their success is going to be short lived and just constantly get the one yanked out of their sails. That is not Claire. That’s not how she grew up. So hearing that concept of fear of success was actually surprising. And once I explained it out, she was like, man, that makes sense.

I can see that. So here are three questions that will probably help you confirm that you don’t just fear failure, but success as well. So question number one, have you ever felt like pure joy or happiness, and then the next moment or a little while later, a sense of panic or anxiety of losing that very feeling. Were there ever things that are going really well in your life and you just start wondering… When is it going to go wrong? When is the next shoe going to drop or do you find yourself wandering down the what if paths or thinking of worst, worst case scenarios? What if this happens? What if, what if this? Well, if this happens, then of course that means that this wasn’t that successful. Whatever that is. If you’ve ever felt anything even remotely close to either one of those three questions, well then maybe you’re constantly trying to plan and control your life and you believe that if work hard enough or know all the answers, you can prevent bad stuff from happening to you or your family or your business.

Folks, I’ve got to tell you, it’s exhausting and it keeps us from experiencing joy and deep peace. Now we talk about fear of failure openly as a culture, but what about fear of success? And I will tell you this, for the person that is not afraid of failure, the thing I say all the time is being afraid to fail is like being afraid to go to school to learn. Because failure is a great teacher for the person who’s ready to receive it. But if you have a culture of fear, of failure or fear of success, then guess what? It is absolutely draining you and keeping you from experiencing great joy. So a lot of times it’s called different things, but it’s all the same: foreboding, joy, fear of success or even upper limit problem. As Brené Brown puts it, joy is the most vulnerable emotion we experience.

And if you cannot tolerate joy, what you do is start dress rehearsing tragedy. Now dress rehearsing tragedy she explains is imagining something bad is going to happen when in reality nothing is wrong. I think every single person listening to this right now has experienced that and a lot of you have experienced a ton of it. So how fear of success negatively affects us. We live in a state of stress or fight or flight. We can’t selectively shut down when we try to avoid like a loss or shut it down. We also shut down our ability to truly enjoy and feel. We self sabotage. We start creating conflict or picking fights. I know none of you have ever experienced that. Ever. Sarcasm. We start withdrawing from people or things that we absolutely love. We start dropping the ball at work. We become incredibly self protective. We start feeling burned out by trying to keep all the plates spinning and all the bad things from happening that really aren’t happening yet, right?

We may get physically sick. We also start numbing with things like TV, social media, alcohol. There’s all kinds of ways that we numb. We might numb with attacking other people. We might numb with isolation. There’s so many different things that we do. We call those the surface level responses in Next-Level Life to numb from this process because we’re self sabotaging. Think about this. I want you to hear the craziness behind this and also wants you to hear you’re not alone. So many people experience this, we just don’t talk about it. We just don’t share it. We don’t talk about it with other people going, you know what? I had this great day the other day and it was phenomenal. And then so that it didn’t turn into tragedy I caused it to be a problem myself. I started preparing myself for the other shoe to drop and that great thing to go away. Had a great sales call and you know, hey, it made a big sale and I was on cloud nine and then I yanked myself back down because, you know, I was just expecting something bad to go happen or I had a great day with the family and things are great, but then you know what?

I screwed things up because I was just waiting for something to go wrong. We don’t talk about that stuff now. We do all the time in Next-Level Life because it comes up almost every single event, right? So it’s not uncommon for us to do things like numb from it. We don’t feel safe enough to talk about it to people we know. We don’t know how to find the right person to talk to. You know, a lot of folks have not made it through Next Level Life. So instead we choose these other areas to numb. Now, a bigger problem with this is it’s actually cyclical. It’s something that becomes a cycle that we get stuck in. Worse than that, for those of you that are parents, it’s something that we perpetuate to our kids. Over and over again we help people to see how this is something that we pass down and it becomes something that you’ve probably, for some of you, you’ve probably looked at at least one of your kids and see that they respond the same way that you do.

Now we call all of this the surface level responses. These are the things, this is the learned behavior. Fear of success is a root system response. And what are surface level responses? Surface level responses are the things that we do because we don’t understand to deposits and our root system, we don’t understand situations that have happened. We don’t understand the training that we’ve had. So we respond with things like a fear of success. We respond with things like numbing, isolation, control. It’s all a learned behavior. Now, it often comes from our root system of what we can’t see, which produces surface level responses that we see. Now, if you don’t know what I’m talking about on the root system and go back and listen to understanding your root system we’ll again put that information in the show notes here. So some examples of dysfunction that create deposits in your root system are: if you had parents who focused on your performance, the report cards, sports teams, etc.

And it was never good enough or it was really good, but you got knocked down for it. Or if you had controlling parents who were aggressive or passive in their control, that would control the outcomes, the situations, the discussions, the things that you accomplished. If it was very controlling in those processes or if you experienced a loss that you couldn’t control. A lot of times when somebody is being incredibly controlling, then they’re suggesting that they’re taking control from you. This is very subconscious. This is very, again, this is not something that you would recognize in the moment. You’re just feeling that somebody is ripping on you. And what happens is, is that you feel a loss of your own control. If you had parents who were afraid and often tried to protect you limiting what you could explore and do. Maybe it is a, “Hey, don’t touch that.

Hey, don’t go ride on that skateboard. Hey, don’t climb on that tree. Nope. Don’t stay away from that,” right? “You’re going to get hurt. You’re going to get hurt.” And they kind of just controlled those things. Maybe even parents who loved you so much and thought you were so great, you became afraid to let them down. This is something I have had a good number of people, not a ton, but a decent number of people who had parents that were so loving and actually set the child up for failure because then they always felt they had to live up to that expectation. Or if you had parents who taught you the importance of survival. Now listen, there’s one thing I hate and that is when people say, I’m a survivor. Listen, I have no problem with you having survived. I don’t want you to be a survivor.

I want you to have survived through stuff and be somebody who thrives in life. I have a ton of junk that I survived when I was younger, but I don’t look at that and go, I’m a survivor because what is the focus put on? The focus is put on that you always have to survive and surviving is not thriving, so it’s very possible…maybe you had a parent who taught you that you’re always a survivor, that you’re always in survival mode. If so, then again, when you have that successful day, you know something bad is coming, or at least you convince yourself that it is and the list absolutely goes on of surface level responses. This is literally just scratching the surface of deposits that happen in your life. Now, getting free from this, how do we get free from a fear of success? Now I can tell you what you do all day long.

I’m sure you’ve probably had a spouse or a family member or a friend tell you the what as I do my air quotes. They may have labeled you as fearful or lovingly pointed out your control issues or maybe not so lovingly pointed them out. What did that do for you? Did you experience immediate healing and find yourself free of the struggle for control or not being afraid anymore? No. Why not? Because they told you the what. They pointed out your surface level response. It can give great awareness, but it doesn’t bring healing or lasting positive change. We’ve got probably about 25% of the folks that come through next level life that will have their spouse join them, that sit in on the event. It’s the individual’s event, but sometimes their spouse sits in it, they want them to, and every single time I will say, I’m going to go through some things and you’re going to immediately think or even say out loud, I’ve told them that a thousand times and then I’m going to ask you a question, did it help?

And you’re going to say no. And that’s what I’m gonna say. That’s because you pointed out the what, you did not help them get to the why, the what is incredibly important. You have to know the what, but it’s not the thing that changes you. Understanding your root system and then knowing what action steps to take based on your personal root system is where you find deep lasting change. Now when you understand the why behind the what and you connect the dots, you’re able to release stuff that you’re holding on to that’s keeping you in that cycle of self sabotage that’s keeping you in that cycle of fearing success. You’re able to get to that place of experiencing joy and peace. Now I’m not saying it doesn’t have a difficult process in it. It’s a process of getting there, but the amazing thing is when you discover that why, then you can start moving toward that joy and that peace in your life.

Now you can spend two full days discovering your root system, your authentic self, your purpose, how to be your healthiest, most joy filled self at Next Level Life. You can discover the why and the things that are causing the what, the things that are causing that fear so that the next time you have a phenomenal day, you aren’t waiting for something bad to happen the next time you have a phenomenal moment, you’re not all of a sudden turning to self sabotage your day. You’re not spending your time thinking that you are not worthy of success, that you are not worth having something incredible happening in your life. It’s a full two days where you walk one on one with a facilitator through our Next Level Life process. We have phenomenal food while you’re here, you’re taken care of, you get to relax and dig deep to grow you, to stop those cycles that you’re tired of falling into.

Now in the meantime, I want to give you some weekly action steps. You know, things that you can do right now. Now it’s not going to magically your surface level responses, but it’s a good start before you do something like take the time to come through Next Level Life. Fear of success radar, you know, joy noticing. If anything good starts to happen, I want you to take notice that you’re seeing the ways that you’re about to start self sabotaging or the ways that you are self sabotaging. So whenever something’s going good, I want you to recognize your thoughts, your feelings, your emotions. I want you to take a look at everything and start asking the question, what is the lie that I’m telling myself right now? What is the thing that I’m experiencing right now? Am I starting to feel like this is just going to fail, but it’s going to fall apart, but it’s not going to be successful?

Take a look at that. Notice it. Have your success radar on right that joy radar on, and then do something. Say something out loud like this does not mean that something bad is gonna happen. Now, I can tell you for myself, one of the things that I have to do, and I’ve been doing this for years, one of the things I do is if something negative starts to happen or self sabotage starts to happen in my brain, I go “knock it off.” I have to shock my brain, stop it and shock it, and then I start speaking the truth. This does not mean something bad is coming. This does not mean I’m not worth this success. This does not mean that I’m not worthy, that I’m not good enough. Tell yourself the truth in the moment. Next thing I want you to do is I want you to have gratitude practice.

I cannot say this enough. The more thankful you are, the less self focused you are. Let me say that again. The more thankful you are, the less you’re focused on you, the less selfish you are. This is something that we teach all the time in Next Level Life because fear really comes from me being focused on me, right? If I’m not worried about me, if I’m not thinking about me then guess what? I’m not focused on fear for me. So one great way to be less focused on me is to be incredibly focused on what I’m thankful for. So practice gratitude right away. So those are a couple of things you can do right now. Now, if you want to learn more about next level life or you think it may be time for you to check it out, go to chrislocurto.com/discover

Now, many of you out there have been listening to, I can’t tell you how many folks come in and we’re like, well, when did you decide to do this? Well I actually decided I needed to do this three years ago, but I didn’t actually take action until now, always two days later. They’re like, I really wish I would have done this three years ago. Just take the next step at chrislocurto.com/discover. There’s no commitment there. Go get more information on what I think is going to be one of biggest life changing events of your life. Go check it out. Well folks, hopefully this has helped you today. I want you to go do those action steps. Let’s get these changes in your life. Understand you are good enough, understand you are worthy enough. Understand that success is something you do not need to fear in your life. So thank you for joining me today. I hope it served you well. I encourage you to subscribe, rate, review, and share the podcast to help more people join our community. And as always, take this information, change your leadership, Change Your Business, change your life, and join us on the next episode.




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Meet Chris LoCurto


Chris has a heart for changing lives by helping people discover the life and business they really want.

Decades of personal and leadership development experience, as well as running multi-million dollar businesses, has made him an expert in life and business coaching. personality types, and communication styles.

Growing up in a small logging town near Lake Tahoe, California, Chris learned a strong work ethic at home from his full-time working mom. He began his leadership and training career in the corporate world, starting but at E'TRADE.

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