Achievemephobia: Fear of Success

  • Time to read: 8 min.

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Achievemephobia, also known as the fear of success or the fear of winning, is a condition where an individual has an irrational and persistent dread of achieving their goals. This can manifest itself in various forms such as procrastination, avoidance behaviors, self-sabotage and anxiety. It can be debilitating for those who suffer from it and prevent them from reaching their full potential.

It is estimated that around 10% of people have some form of achievemephobia but this number may be higher due to many individuals not seeking help or being unaware that they are suffering from it.

Definition of Achievemephobia

Achievemephobia, or the fear of winning, is a psychological phenomenon that affects individuals who experience crippling anxiety when faced with expectations of success. These expectations can be placed either by the individual or by external factors such as family members or peers.

The fear of achieving success can stem from a variety of personal issues and result in an avoidance of situations where certain accomplishments may be expected. It is thought to be a result of low self-esteem, insecurity, and negative self-talk surrounding personal capabilities.

The term achievemephobia was first coined during research on how individuals react to external expectations.

Specifically, those with this phobia perceive their potential successes as too overwhelming and ultimately avoid any activity that could lead to achieving something great. This behavior consequently prevents them from having the chance to receive recognition, praise, or even awards for their efforts and achievements. 

This type of irrational fear can manifest in a variety of ways depending on the individual’s circumstances.

For instance, someone who suffers from achievemephobia may become hesitant to apply for a job due to feeling underqualified or unworthy; they may also refuse to participate in activities that have significant rewards attached to them such as competitions or exams; and finally, they may find it difficult to celebrate successes out of fear that it will cause envy from others around them.

Causes of Achievemephobia

One cause may be related to anxiety and low self-esteem. People with achievemephobia may feel that they do not deserve success or recognition; thus, they shy away from the possibility of “winning” because they are afraid to fail due to their own feelings of inadequacy.

The fear of success may also be linked to perfectionism, as individuals may worry that they won’t live up to their expectations and will not be able to attain the level of excellence they desire. 

Another cause may be related to childhood experiences. People who have had negative past experiences with success (e.g., being teased for being smart or receiving excessive praise) may become anxious when presented with the prospect of succeeding in something new.

This type of conditioning can lead to a fear of achievement, particularly if the individual does not believe that he or she will measure up to a certain standard set by others in his or her past. 

Finally, some people develop achievemephobia due to an underlying fear of change or uncertainty about how others will perceive them if they succeed at something new. The thought process here is often rooted in the fear that one’s successes will lead to significant changes in his or her social circle, which could make it harder for him or her to fit in with peers and make friends.

Symptoms of Achievemephobia

Achievemephobia, or the fear of winning, is a strong aversion to the idea of success in any form. People suffering from this type of phobia are often in a constant state of anxiety and distress, as they tend to feel extreme pressure to succeed.

Common symptoms associated with achievemephobia may include physical symptoms such as nausea, tremors, and sweating; cognitive symptoms such as racing thoughts and difficulty concentrating; and emotional symptoms such as feeling overwhelmed or out of control. Individuals may also experience social withdrawal and avoidance of situations where success is expected or possible.

Other symptoms can include perfectionism, procrastination, low self-esteem and overall feelings of defeatism. It’s important to note that those who suffer from achievemephobia may not be consciously aware that they have an irrational fear of succeeding. For this reason, it’s essential for individuals to be aware of the signs so they can seek professional help if necessary.

How to Overcome Achievemephobia

The first step to overcoming achievemephobia is to recognize that it exists and understand the reasons behind it.

Those suffering from this fear may be afraid of letting others down if they succeed, or they may feel overwhelmed by the thought of succeeding. They may also be focused on external expectations and fears of failure rather than internal motivation for success. Understanding the root causes of achievemephobia is key to beginning the process of overcoming it.

Once you have identified the source of your fear, try to break it down into smaller parts. Instead of trying to tackle all your goals at once, focus on smaller challenges that you can take on in steps.

This will make them more manageable and will help build confidence in your ability to succeed over time. Additionally, create an accountability system with friends and family who can support you as you work towards achieving your goals without judgment or criticism.

Another way to overcome achievemephobia is by re-framing negative thoughts about success into positive ones. Remind yourself that success means different things for different people and celebrate progress instead of results.

Acknowledge any successes no matter how small they are, as this will help build confidence over time. Finally, practice self-care regularly—getting enough restful sleep, engaging in physical activity, eating well—as having a healthy body and mind are key components for achieving your goals without anxiety or stress associated with achievement phobia.

Strategies for Dealing with Fear of Success and Winning

One of the most effective strategies for dealing with the fear of success and winning is to focus on the process, rather than the outcome.

Focusing on the journey rather than the destination can help prevent feelings of anticipatory anxiety that often accompany success or winning. It’s important to take it one step at a time and set short-term goals that are achievable. This will provide a sense of accomplishment while also helping to build confidence in yourself and your abilities. 

Another strategy for overcoming fear of success and winning is to recognize and embrace failure as an essential part of any journey toward success. Failing can be seen as a learning experience, not a sign of failure or inadequacy. Everyone fails from time to time, but understanding why something didn’t work out can help you create solutions for future successes. 

Finally, try to reframe your mindset around success and winning by focusing on what you would gain from achieving them rather than on potential losses or pitfalls associated with it.

This means looking at success through a more positive lens as something that will bring reward and growth instead of dreading it because of potential repercussions or letdowns associated with it. By shifting this perspective, you may find that there are more opportunities for satisfaction derived from achieving success and winning than were initially perceived.

Real Life Example

Nina had been an extremely successful professional for most of her career. She was highly respected and admired in her field, and she was even presented with a prestigious award at one point. However, despite all the accolades and recognition that she earned, Nina felt overwhelmed by her success and became increasingly anxious about what it meant for the future. 

One particular moment that stands out in Nina’s story is when she received a promotion at work, which came with an additional salary increase and more responsibility.

Instead of feeling overjoyed like she expected to be, Nina started feeling scared of what this could mean for her future success. She started worrying about how long she could maintain such a high level of performance and began having thoughts about not being able to keep up with expectations anymore. 

The fear of success became so overwhelming that it eventually caused Nina to burn out from stress and fatigue. She stopped taking on new projects, skipped important meetings, and eventually had to take time off from work due to exhaustion. This experience made Nina realise that although success can be rewarding, it can also be burdensome if we put too much weight on ourselves when trying to achieve it. 

Nina learned valuable lessons from this experience – primarily that it is important to remain grounded no matter how successful you might become, but also to recognise our limitations as humans so that we do not overextend ourselves or succumb to burnout. Working hard towards achieving goals is important but it should never come at the expense of our health or well-being.


Overall, fear of success and winning can be a difficult thing to overcome but with the right strategies and mindset, it is possible to work through this issue. By learning to focus on the process rather than the outcome, recognizing and embracing failure as part of success, and reframing our mindset around success, it is possible to overcome the fear of success or winning.

Everyone’s experience with this issue will be different but with a bit of effort and determination, it is possible to move past this fear and start embracing success and winning with enthusiasm.  By doing so, you can start to enjoy the rewards that come with achieving goals and gaining success without letting fear stand in your way.

FAQ – Acheivemephobia: Fear of Winning

What phobia is fear of winning?

Achievemephobia is the fear of success or winning. This phobia can refer to both professional and personal successes, such as winning awards, promotions or competitions. Affected individuals may have difficulty pursuing success due to feelings of anxiety or fear of not being able to uphold high standards.

Why am I scared of being successful?

Fear of success can stem from a variety of reasons, including fear of failure, fear of responsibility, fear of the unknown, or fear of change. It can also be a result of low self-esteem or feeling overwhelmed by the possibility of success and increased expectations from others.

How do you overcome Achievemephobia?

To overcome fear of success or winning, it is important to focus on the process rather than the outcome. Recognizing and embracing failure as part of success can also be beneficial, as this will help to reframe the way we think about success. Additionally, it is important to practice self-care and recognize our limitations so that we do not overextend ourselves or succumb to burnout.

What is the fear of reaching your potential?

The fear of reaching one’s potential is sometimes referred to as “achievemephobia” or the fear of success. This type of fear is driven by a feeling of anxiety or worry about not being able to live up to expectations and maintain one’s success. Affected individuals may also feel overwhelmed by the pressure of achieving their full potential.