In this article, Carol Solomon PhD describes treating a case of fear of success.
A success formula for self-sabotage eliminates binge eating
While this article by Carol Solomon, PhD has a binge eating focus, its concepts can be used for many kinds of success blocks. Note how an important core issue shows up in the process.
By Carol Solomon, PhD
My client, Johnna, was incredibly capable, but found herself continuously sabotaging her success. She would get close to her goal, whether it was weight loss or her creative endeavors, and suddenly revert back to old behavior.
This was particularly obvious with her binge eating problem. Several times per month she would go "over the edge" and eat everything in sight. She made several attempts at overcoming this problem but, alas, she reverted back every time.
It was like a wet blanket was thrown on her drive toward her goal. Her inner critic would then show up, and she would have self-talk such as "Who do you think you are?" Johnna did not believe that she was allowed to be successful in anything, binge eating included.
Johnna recognized her pattern of self-sabotage. There seemed to be some fear of success, but she couldn't identify the source of the problem. Keeping in mind her lack of success with binge eating, we started with some general EFT statements:
- Even though success does not feel safe, I deeply and completely accept myself.
- Even though success does not feel good, I deeply love and accept myself anyway.
- Even though success feels threatening, I choose to love and accept myself completely.
Then we used some general statements to tap around the body:
- Success doesn't feel safe.
- Success doesn't feel good.
- Success is threatening.
- Part of me doesn't want to succeed.
- Who do you think you are?
- I'm not allowed to have it.
- Part of me doesn't want to change.
- It just doesn't feel right.
At this point, Johnna remembered that whenever she was successful, her parents would no longer help her. When she learned how to bake cookies, for example, her mother was happy and relieved. She would withdraw her support and turn that responsibility over to Johnna. It made Johnna feel alone, lonely and overwhelmed since she was saddled with more and more adult responsibilities.
She was always expected to handle these responsibilities. It was what her parents valued in her. But for Johnna, success meant losing contact with her parents, feeling alone and unsupported.
It was such a well-entrenched, unconscious pattern, that as an adult, Johnna became anxious whenever she neared success. If she lost weight, she was afraid there wouldn't be any support and that others would expect more of her.
She routinely sabotaged her success in order to feel less anxious. Yet, she felt frustrated knowing that she was repeating the same vicious cycle over and over again. It was only during EFT sessions that these patterns became clear.
Here is the next set of statements that I used with Johnna:
- Even though success means I will lose my support, and I won't be able to handle that, I choose to know I can get support if I need it.
- Even though success means more responsibility and that I have to KEEP being successful, I deeply love and accept all of my feelings.
- Even though change feels overwhelming and I am afraid that others will expect more of me, I profoundly love and accept myself.
- Even though I am afraid I won't be cared for if I am successful, I choose to love and accept myself anyway.
- Even though success feels frightening and different, I choose to embrace it now.
- Even though it is safer not to try, and I am afraid I will be lonely, I deeply and completely accept myself.
- Even though I feel scared to succeed, I choose to know that I am safe, secure and provided for in every way.
- Then around the body:
- I can't take care of me
- I was just a kid
- Feeling scared
- Feeling lonely
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Feeling angry inside
- Too much responsibility
- I'm all alone
And finish with a positive round:
- I'm ready to embrace my success
- I choose to be responsible for me for my own sake (Johnna's words)
- I deserve success
- I am grateful for my success
- I am ready to allow my success now
- I am ready to enjoy my success now
- I can be successful and still be cared for
- I can say no to too much responsibility
The fear of success MUST be confronted if the client is entrenched in this pattern. You can start to tap on the general issues, and work toward uncovering the underlying core issues. But if you don't unpack this issue, the client will never feel congruent with success enough to allow it.
Since our work together, Johnna has gone from binge eating several times per month to zero binge eating for the past two months. Success! No reverting back to old patterns. This process, of course, needs to be repeated for other avenues of success.
Carol Solomon, Ph.D.
See also: Healing and Transformation through Using EFT
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Keywords: Healing, success, fear of success, EFT