A Guide To Overcome the Fear of Success in Recovery

Man sitting alone in a room.

A Guide To Overcome the Fear of Success in Recovery

Fear of failure can keep you from achieving your goals, but fear of success can actually threaten your long-term recovery. Why are some people afraid to succeed? What does a successful recovery look like, and why is that so frightening for some people? What fears do you have that are keeping you from success?

How Fear of Success Differs From Fear of Failure

The fear of failure is something that may be easy for people to understand. Fearing failure comes from that place of unworthiness, feeling not good enough, or that place where any past perceived failures are stored. These fears keep you “safe” from doing things outside of your comfort zone but can also paralyze you and keep you from moving forward.

Fear of success tends to come from fearing change, losing yourself, or living up to increased expectations. You may also fear success because of how it will affect your relationships with others, your job, or your living environment. In essence, fear of success often stems from a core belief that you might actually be able to do this. 

Reasons You Might Be Afraid to Succeed in Recovery

Success in recovery specifically can be very frightening. Recovery is like taking everything you know in your life, turning it upside down, shaking it up, and turning it inside out. Almost every aspect of your life in active addiction will need to change, and that can be very scary. You may need to change where you live, who you live with, the friends that you hang out with, where you hang out, and what you do with your free time.

What seems to frighten people the most about recovery is that you may have the opportunity to change your life. By making all of those changes to your life when you are unhealthy, unhappy, and possibly in trouble in your relationships or with the law, you now have the opportunity to be healthy, happy, have healthy relationships, and get yourself back in good standing with the law. Those are some very significant changes, and that level of success can be frightening when you are in the opposite place.

What Does Success in Recovery Look Like for You?

What would your successful recovery look like? What is it that you want to achieve? In addition to becoming clean and sober, what are your goals for success in your recovery? Some of the generic goals for success might include:

  • I will forgive myself
  • I will love myself
  • I will be physically healthy
  • I will be mentally well
  • I will be emotionally well
  • I will recommit to my recovery every day
  • I will be financially stable/independent
  • I will have a job/a better job/my dream job
  • I will have healthy relationships
  • I will give back to the recovery community

You can choose your own success in recovery and what that looks like for you based on your own desires, needs, and situation. Just remember that when you choose to be successful, you do not need to put limitations on your success based on fear.

Overcoming Your Fears of Being Successful

Change can be difficult. Change can also be exciting. One way of overcoming your fears of success in recovery is to change your thinking surrounding the experience. Instead of being afraid of the changes or anticipating negative occurrences, anticipate the positive changes that will come in recovery. Find the changes that you can look forward to.

Fear is often based on the unknown, and the life you have now is all that you know. There is something happening in your life that is serious enough for you to be taking action and making these changes, so what you know now can not be that great. There has to be something better. Successful recovery will definitely be better.

How to Become Fearlessly Successful in Your Recovery

The best way to overcome your fear of success is to take that first step forward. Then take another step, then another, and keep moving forward. With each step forward, your fears will be negated by your success. Change will happen; sometimes quickly, at other times gradually, but the change will happen.

Recovery is not easy; it will require putting one foot in front of the other every single day. Some days, you may stumble or even fall, like a toddler learning to walk. Success in recovery is all about picking yourself back up and putting one foot in front of the other again. As you do so, you will be successful—fearlessly successful.