Monday, September 18, 2006

How to Overcome the Fear of Success

Sometimes clients are great hypnotic subjects. They are very motivated to achieve success in overcoming fears or phobias. They are enthusiastic to quit smoking or lose weight. They are properly encouraged to overcome guilt and shame, which is holding them back from achieving their goals.

Then an old fear pops up to derail the process. This old fear is called the fear of success.

What is the fear of success?

Fear of success is best illustrated by the following hypnosis session. I will call my client “Melody.”

Melody came to me in 1978 to help her overcome “test anxiety.” Melody was a teacher in a school district located in Illinois. She needed to obtain a high score on her graduate entrance test so she could attend Graduate School at a local university. Melody’s school district had a requirement that all teachers need to obtain a Masters Degree by their 8th year of teaching. She was in her 3rd year of teaching but needed to begin her studies now as she could only attend college part time, while working at her teaching job.

I began my hypnosis induction to relieve test anxiety, but stopped in the middle of it. I took Melody out of hypnosis because I was perplexed. Most of the teachers I knew were always excellent students. Tests where always easy for them and most of the teachers I knew went in to teaching as a result of obtaining top test scores. Test taking as well as test creation were skills where all teachers excelled.

So, I asked Melody, “What grades did you receive in high school and college?”

She said, “I received straight A’s in high school and was on the Dean’s List in college.”

Then I asked her, “Since you have been such a great student in the recent past, why are you afraid of taking one more test?”

She said, “I don’t know.”

I asked her, “What is the worst thing that would happen if you flunk the test?” Melody said, “I would lose my job as a teacher by my 8th year because I would not have my Masters Degree.”

I then asked her another key question, “What would happen if you passed the test.” She said,” I would be able to continue with my college studies and my job.” I then asked Melody, “What would you lose by eliminating your test anxiety, forever?”

Tears welled up in her eyes. Her head nodded and she struggled with the words, “I would lose my husband.”
Melody explained how her husband named Mike had to quit school at 16 and run the family automobile repair business. Mike held Melody up on a pedestal recognizing how smart she is and how dumb he is. He told her many times how lucky he was to have Melody as his wife and knew that if she got any smarter, she would leave him for someone else.

I asked Melody if she would leave her husband if she obtained her Masters degree and she said no. She loved her husband more than anything and would do nothing to hurt him.

I added that the fear she was experiencing was not the fear of taking tests, but the fear of success. If she succeeded in passing the test and beginning her studies in Graduate School, she risks making her husband fearful of her “getting too smart.”

I recommended she confront her husband and let him know of this fear, also letting him know that she loves her job and wants to continue. I told her to assure her husband that she will love him just as much in 5 years as she does now.

Melody went home and discussed her fear of success with her husband. He listened and agreed he was not acting rationally about the situation and would support her to the best of his ability. Melody took the Graduate School Entranced Exam and aced it.

It’s been many years since 1978, but Melody and Mike are still happily married.


You will find the fear of success when you question your clients with, “Once your problem is solved forever, what do you lose?” You may be surprised with some of the answers. Until you can help your clients clear the hurdle of what they will lose by achieving their goals, your hypnotherapy will not create permanent change.

Do you want to help other people? Click here to take my audio hypnosis training course. You can learn my entire knowledge base in hypnosis in 48 hours. Click here for information on my two day one-on-one training in your home town!

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“My mission in life is to help you achieve your mission in life.”—Wayne F. Perkins


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