Cronos Syndrome: The Fear of Being Replaced

Some people have a hard time taking steps to achieve their goals. They’re afraid of failure, so they don't even try. The flip side of that are people who are afraid of losing all that they've achieved. The name for this set of feelings and behaviors is Cronos syndrome.
Cronos Syndrome: The Fear of Being Replaced
Sergio De Dios González

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Sergio De Dios González.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Most of the problems people have are related to their goals and the steps they have to take to reach them. Most of us have to invest a lot of effort and determination into achieving our goals and we don’t want any missteps. However, as you’ll see in this article, achieving goals isn’t the only problem people have.

The flip side of that problem is the fear some people have about losing what has cost them so much to achieve. Although it normally arises in business, it can affect other parts of your life as well. If you’re close to achieving your goals, or you already achieved them, Cronos syndrome will probably make an appearance at some point or another.

What Exactly Is Cronos Syndrome?

Cronos syndrome is fearing that you’ll be replaced by someone else or other people in an area of your life that’s important to you. For example, a business executive might be afraid that one of their subordinates will try to steal their job. This idea puts extra pressure on them, which leads to stress and anxiety. It could even result in trying to sabotage the people that they feel are threatening them.

Cronos syndrome is also related to envy. If you have Cronos syndrome, you feel jealous of other people’s achievements. Consequently, you might look down on them and undermine their confidence in themselves so that they never achieve more than you.

A businessman being scolded by a shadow.

Of course, one of the root causes of this problem is lack of self-esteem. When you feel sure of yourself, you have no need to feel superior to other people. The opposite is also true, which leads to self-fulfilling behavior.

Why Is it Called Cronos syndrome?

This syndrome got its name from Greek Mythology. Cronos was the son of Uranus (the creator of the universe). In his youth, Cronos defeated his father and took his place as God of all Gods, but he had to pay a very high price for his actions.

Afterward, Cronos was always afraid that his sons would overthrow him. To prevent this from happening, Cronos ate his sons as soon as they were born. However, the goddess Rhea helped save one of them: Zeus. When Zeus reached adulthood, he defeated his father, saved his brothers, and became the new King of the Gods.

People with Cronos syndrome share certain traits with the Greek god. For example, their biggest worry is that those below them will try to take their place. In general, however, when they try to protect themselves from that possibility, they end up causing more problems. They might even end up triggering someone to do what they fear the most.

People who work under someone with Cronos syndrome tend to be unhappy employees for obvious reasons. Consequently, they might try to sabotage or undermine their superior. The ironic thing is that they wouldn’t have done it if their boss didn’t have Cronos syndrome.

How to Fight Cronos Syndrome

Here are some tools to mitigate the effect of this syndrome:

  • Work on your self-esteem. Although people with Cronos syndrome probably seem very confident, many of them actually believe they aren’t good enough. So, if you want to avoid Cronos syndrome or nip it in the bud, you have to learn to trust yourself. That’s the only way you’ll realize you’re unique and, as a result, that you can’t be replaced.
  • Strive for excellence. It doesn’t matter what area of your life you’re struggling with. If you want to stop being afraid of someone replacing you, try hard to be the best version of yourself you can be.
  • Accept that you can’t always win. Lastly, you need to understand that you can’t always be the best. Even if you completely dedicate your life to being the best, it won’t happen one hundred percent of the time. It’s just impossible. However, does that mean that you can’t live the life that you want? At the end of the day, there are goals within your reach that’ll provide some satisfaction. If you put in a little effort, you’ll be able to have a better life than the one you have now.
A happy woman in front of plants.

In conclusion, Cronos syndrome can be a serious obstacle for those who are trying to reach their goals. Nevertheless, with a little perseverance, it’s possible to defeat your fears. If you identify with what we’ve described in this article, don’t worry. Just commit yourself to improving and seek outside help if you think you need it. What are you waiting for?

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.