Q. I'm a low level employee with what a psychiatrist told me is "success phobia." He said I'm afraid of succeeding because I don't want any more stress or anxiety in my life. I'm already stressed because I don't have enough money and I have no social life. What can I do about this?
Ans. It sounds like you're stuck. You want to make more money to ease your stress. But you believe a new job or more responsibility would be even more stressful than your current situation. The thing is, stress is not the problem here. It's how you respond to stress that's getting in your way-and that is true for people at all levels of career success, according to Jonathan Berent, co-author of "Work Makes Me Nervous: Overcome Anxiety and Develop the Confidence to Succeed" (Wiley $24.95). Anxiety-obsessive worry, a fear of being noticeably nervous- is an overreaction to the adrenaline flow caused by normal life events, Berent explains. He suggests if you learn to surf the wave of adrenaline rather than perceiving it as negative, you'll be more comfortable taking on new challenges. His co-author Amy Lemley adds that if you turn down that "critical inner voice, an adrenaline boost can provide energy to fuel performance."