People who are very successful in life but are secretly unhappy usually display these 8 subtle behaviors

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

Success isn’t always synonymous with happiness. There’s a surprising number of highly successful people who, despite their achievements, harbor a deep-seated unhappiness.

Often, this unhappiness is hidden beneath a veneer of success and can manifest in subtle behaviors that might go unnoticed by most.

These behaviors can be difficult to spot, but once you know what to look for, they become a lot clearer. And it’s important to be aware of them not just in others, but potentially in ourselves as well.

So let’s delve into these 8 subtle behaviors that are commonly displayed by people who are very successful in life but secretly unhappy.

1) Constant striving for more

Success is often accompanied by the relentless pursuit of more: more wealth, more recognition, more achievements. But when does it become too much?

For highly successful people who are secretly unhappy, this craving for “more” can be a subtle sign of their internal discontent.

Despite their accomplishments, they may never feel satisfied or content with what they have achieved. Instead, they continue to strive for greater heights, often at the expense of their own happiness and well-being.

It’s a cycle that can be exhausting and unfulfilling, leaving them feeling empty and dissatisfied despite their outward success.

And it’s one of the key signs that even though they’re externally successful, they may be internally unhappy.

2) Neglecting personal relationships

I remember a time when I was so engrossed in my career, chasing promotion after promotion, that I almost forgot about the people who mattered most to me.

For individuals who are successful yet secretly unhappy, personal relationships often take a backseat to their professional ambitions. They find themselves spending more time in the office or on work-related tasks than with their loved ones.

I recall missing out on important family gatherings, birthdays, and even forgetting my own anniversary one year. I was so focused on achieving my goals at work that I neglected my personal relationships.

Over time, I realized the cost of my success was too high. I was losing connection with my family and friends, and I was feeling lonely and disconnected despite my professional achievements.

This neglect of personal relationships is a subtle sign of unhappiness masked by success. It’s a stark reminder that success is not just about professional achievement but also about personal fulfillment and maintaining meaningful relationships.

3) Experiencing Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome is a psychological pattern where individuals doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.

Successful people are not immune to this. In fact, they can be more susceptible due to the high standards they set for themselves and the pressure they face to maintain their success.

Despite their achievements, they may constantly feel like they’re not good enough or that they’ve only succeeded due to luck rather than their abilities or hard work.

This constant self-doubt and fear of being found out can be a sign of hidden unhappiness. It also acts as a barrier preventing them from truly enjoying their success, as they’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

4) Prioritizing work over health

Another subtle behavior displayed by successful individuals who may be secretly unhappy is the tendency to overlook their physical and mental health. They are often so consumed by their work and the pursuit of success that they neglect their well-being.

This might mean skipping meals, getting insufficient sleep, or pushing through stress without taking time to relax and rejuvenate. It could also mean ignoring symptoms of chronic stress such as headaches, mood swings, or even depression.

Unfortunately, this neglect of health can lead to serious consequences in the long run. It’s essential for anyone, regardless of their level of success, to take care of their health and well-being.

After all, what good is success if it comes at the cost of your health?

5) Lack of work-life balance

Successful people who are secretly unhappy often struggle to strike a healthy work-life balance. They may spend the majority of their time focused on their work, leaving little to no time for leisure, hobbies, or relaxation.

This imbalance can lead to burnout, stress, and a decreased quality of life. They may find themselves constantly working, even during times traditionally reserved for relaxation or family.

The inability to switch off from work and enjoy other aspects of life can be a subtle sign of unhappiness. 

6) Feeling disconnected from their passions

There’s a certain joy and fulfillment that comes from doing what you love. But sometimes, in the pursuit of success, individuals lose touch with their passions.

Successful yet secretly unhappy individuals often find themselves in a position where they’re no longer doing what they initially loved. Their work may have become more about maintaining their success and less about the passion that drove them to this point.

This disconnect can lead to a sense of emptiness and loss. They may start to question the value of their success if it doesn’t bring them the joy it once did.

It’s a heartfelt reminder that while success is important, staying connected to our passions and finding joy in what we do is equally vital for our overall happiness.

7) Hiding true feelings

There was a time when I found myself at the peak of my career, surrounded by applause, yet feeling incredibly lonely inside. I felt like I had to put on a brave face, smile, and pretend everything was perfect.

This is a common behavior among successful individuals who are secretly unhappy. They often feel the need to hide their true feelings, fearing that showing their vulnerability might tarnish their image of success. They put on a mask of happiness and contentment, concealing their internal struggles.

The constant pressure to appear happy and successful can be extremely draining and isolating.

It’s crucial to remember that it’s okay to not be okay all the time, and it’s okay to ask for help when needed. After all, we’re all human, and humans have feelings – both good and bad.

8) Ignoring their inner voice

The most subtle, yet telling behavior of successful people who are secretly unhappy is ignoring their inner voice. This voice, our intuition, is our internal guide. It tells us when something doesn’t feel right, or when we need to make a change.

Highly successful people can often drown out this voice amidst the noise of their success. They may neglect their feelings and instincts in order to maintain the status quo, even when it’s causing them distress or unhappiness.

Listening to our inner voice is essential for genuine happiness and fulfillment. It’s our own personal compass, guiding us towards what truly matters to us.

Ignoring it can lead to discontentment and regret, regardless of how outwardly successful we may appear to be.

Did you like my article? Like me on Facebook to see more articles like this in your feed.

Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

8 morning habits that happy and mindful people always practice

Study reveals surprising link between number of sexual partners and marriage happiness