When you’re feeling insecure, you typically don’t notice the hundreds of people around you who accept you just the way you are. All you notice are the few who don’t.
In what way is the fear of rejection holding you back? How would your life be different if you didn’t care whether everyone liked you and agreed with you, or not?
Fear is an instinctual human emotion designed to keep us aware and safe – like the headlights on a car clearly illuminating the twists and turns on the road ahead. But too much fear, like high beams blinding us on a dark, foggy road, can cause the loss of the very thing we feared losing in the first place. This is especially true when it comes to fear of rejection.
Constantly seeking acceptance and reassurance from other people is a dead end. These things can only be found within you, not from others. Why? Because any look, word, or reaction from someone else can be warped and misinterpreted as an upcoming rejection when it simply isn’t.
In this post I want to share some tips that helped me feel self-assured and eventually allowed me to overcome my fear of rejection.
1. Realise that fear itself is the real enemy.
Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Nothing could be closer to the truth. This is especially true as it relates to self-fulfilling prophecies.
A self-fulfilling prophecy is a false belief about a situation that motivates the person with the belief to take actions that cause the belief to come true. This kind of thinking often kills opportunities and tears relationships apart. For instance, you might wrongly believe that a group of people will reject you, so you become defensive, anxious, and perhaps even hostile with them. Eventually, your behavior brings about the feared rejection, which wasn’t there to begin with. And then you, ‘the prophet,’ feels that you were right from the very beginning: “I knew they didn’t like me!”
Do you see how this works? Look carefully at your own tendencies. How do your fears and beliefs about possible rejection influence your behavior toward others? Take a stand. Instead of letting fear show you what might be wrong in your relationships, start looking for signs of what might be right.
2. Let go of your “end of the world” thinking.
All variations of fear, including the fear of rejection, thrive on “end of the world” thinking. In other words, our emotions convince us that an undesirable outcome results in annihilation.
What if they don’t like me?
What if he rejects me?
What if I don’t fit in and I’m left sitting alone at the party?
None of these things result in the “end of the world,” but if we convince ourselves that they do, we will irrationally fear these outcomes and give our fears control over us. The truth is, we – human beings – are inefficient at accurately predicting how future misfortune will make us feel. In fact, most of the time we avoid consciously thinking about it all together, which only perpetuates our subconscious fears.
So ask yourself: “If disaster should strike, and my fear of being rejected comes true, what are three constructive ways I could cope and move forward with my life?”
Sit down and tell yourself a story (write it down too if it helps) about how you will feel after rejection, how you will allow yourself to be upset for a short while, and then how you will begin the process of growing from the experience and moving on.
Just doing this exercise will help you to feel less fear around the possibility of rejection.
3. Question what “rejection” really means.
If a person discovers a 200-carat white diamond in the earth but, due to ignorance, believes it to be worthless, and thus tosses it aside, does this tell us more about the diamond or the person? Along the same lines, when one person rejects another, it reveals a lot more about the “rejecter” than the “rejected.” All you are really seeing is the, often shortsighted, opinion of one person. Consider the following…
If J.K. Rowling stopped after being rejected by multiple publishers for years, there would be no Harry Potter. If Howard Schultz gave up after being turned down by banks 200+ times, there would be no Starbucks. If Walt Disney quit too soon after his theme park concept was trashed by 300+ investors, there would be no Disney World.
One thing is for sure: If you give too much power to the opinions of others, you will become their prisoner. So never let someone’s opinion alter your reality.
Never sacrifice who you are, or who you aspire to be, just because someone else has a problem with it. Love who you are inside and out, and keep pushing forward. No one else has the power to make you feel small unless you give them that power.
And when someone rejects you, don’t inevitably feel it’s because you’re unworthy or unlovable, because all they’ve done is give you clear feedback about their own shortsightedness.
There’s a lot of food for thought there, why don’t you come back tomorrow for the rest of thehints and tips I have realised I need to do to stop fearing rejection.