Of all the obstacles that we might run into when attempting to lose weight, it is rare that we consider how terrified we might be of actually succeeding. We fear that we won't be able to stick to that diet or what if it comes off but it just goes right back on? We think about the food restrictions and how hard it will be to say no to that brownie or that glass of wine.
One of the number one reasons people struggle to stick to a diet, get stuck at a plateau or even have a hard time starting a weight loss regimen, is the fear of success. The fear of letting go of their relationship with food, fear of losing control of their lives by committing to change and fear of what it will be like if that weight actually goes away.
1. Saying goodbye to your security blanket. If you have been struggling with weight your whole life, you probably have a long relationship with food. To change your eating habits and work toward weight loss means controlling emotional eating. That can be terribly frightening if food is the one thing that has been a constant in your life. Maybe food has an instantaneous calming effect on you. Regardless of the bad feelings after indulging, you have built a habit of leaning on food in times of need. It can be scary to say that you have to rely on something else to handle the tough moments of life.
2. Losing your invisibility shield. If you lose the weight, you might get more attention. Many people might think this should be a good thing. But to many others, this is a very scary proposition. If you have insecurities or struggle with self-confidence, hiding behind weight can be a great excuse to not meet new people, not succeed in business or do so much more. Hiding, regardless of the loneliness or dissatisfaction with life, can seem easy in comparison to people actually noticing you. An overweight woman might get used to not getting attention she sees thinner women getting. As a result, she is terrified of what she would do if people noticed her.
3. Experiencing an unknown way of feeling. We get used to being the way we are. To change that can be frightening because it's unknown and therefore unpredictable. If you can't remember what it was like to be thin or if you feel you have been overweight your whole life, even in childhood, you might be afraid of thinness. It would feel different and different is scary. We know how to deal with the devil we know. So we will often block ourselves from what we want if we are not use to it.
4. Saying goodbye to an old friend. The fat on your body can feel like as good a friend as any person in your life, maybe even more so. It's been there through the good and the bad. If it's gone, you might wonder if you will even know who you are anymore. The size of our bodies can become a defining factor in our perception of self. If you look in the mirror, pull in your stomach and immediately have a panic attack, you may be afraid to lose your old friend.
5. Acknowledging that you deserve to take care of yourself. To commit to a weight loss regimen, and/or an exercise routine could mean doing something good for yourself. You might have a negative core belief about yourself. A belief that you do not deserve good, are not worthwhile or not as good as other people. You will behave in ways that uphold that negative belief you have about yourself by not letting yourself commit to change or self-sabotaging anything good that you could be doing for yourself.
Many women sit in my office and ask me why it is that they can't lose weight or stay with a plan. When I begin talking to them about the possibility of fear of success, they have many reactions. Sometimes it's denial, because the brain is telling them that it isn't rational to fear success. Sometimes it's relief that someone has named their blockage. Often it's tears. The tears usually come from a place of shame, fear, frustration and self-judgment. When we can start to work our way through the things that block us from being willing to achieve a goal, we usually begin to see change.
Be willing to acknowledge your negative core belief without judgment. Be willing to acknowledge your relationship with food or even the fat on your body without judgment. Be willing to risk the unknown and find out what it might be like to change. Don't assume you know that it will be terrible and not worth the pain. Again, do this without judgment. When you start to notice what your fears are, you'll be able to face them. You may find out that change can be wonderful and that you can be wonderful.