Rejection – of course nobody enjoys it, but some of us are able to handle it better than others. You see an attractive man/woman across the room, you’re drawn to them. Do you go over and strike up a conversation, or do you choose the safe route and decide to stay put based on the possibility of being rejected? Fear of anything paralyzes us, and it stops us from doing the things we truly want to, and from being who we truly are. So what IS the fear of rejection, where does it come from, and most importantly, how do we get rid of it?
The fear of rejection is an irrational fear usually based on emotions connected to negative past experiences. These past emotions get triggered by situations in the present, and we then find ourselves afraid of feeling these same things again. We end up choosing fear over living life. It is the fear that you will not be accepted for who you are, what you believe in, and how you act. This fear can result in several behavioral patterns, including lack of assertiveness, a confusion as to your true identity, enabling other people in their own bad behavior, game playing, and being dishonest with yourself.
What causes a fear of rejection?
Lack of self-esteem. If you’re not comfortable and proud of who you are, your identity tends to be tied up in what other people think of you. You are then constantly molding your behavior to fit into what you think other people want to see. In order to work on low self-esteem, it’s important to begin to identify where it comes from too. Some factors that can contribute to lack of self esteem are:
1. Social isolation as a child.
2. Lack of good role models growing up.
3. Never having learned healthy ways to deal with conflict or disagreements.
4. Having a physical condition that makes you feel different from everyone else.
5. Lack of personal accomplishments (when comparing oneself to other people).
6. A traumatic experience such as a divorce.
7. Having been told you are second best.
How Do I Overcome My Fear of Rejection?
Once you are able realize that there really is no such thing as rejection, things become a lot easier. If you truly love yourself, then you can see that someone “rejecting” you has nothing to do with you personally. It doesn’t change who you are inside, and it doesn’t make you any less of a person. Living your life with good intentions, and not hurting other people or yourself is all you need to ask of yourself; someone else’s opinion, especially someone who doesn’t even know you inside, should have no bearing on how you feel about yourself. Some steps you can take to undo your fear of rejection are:
1. Identify who you are afraid of being rejected by.
2. Write down the types of behavior you display that are motivated by your fear of rejection. Do you let people walk all over you? Do you keep your feelings inside? Do you tend to go along with what other people want to do even though you want to do something else?
3. Identify what you would really like to do in these situations from a healthier behavioral standpoint. For instance, if a friend asks you to do something that you really don’t want to do, instead of going along with it for fear they will reject you, you would tell them the truth that you really don’t feel like it. You could then suggest an alternative that could work for both of you.
4. Think about what the consequences would be by using these healthier methods. Would you feel better about yourself? Would you be happier not catering to other peoples’ needs all the time and having your own needs met?
The bottom line is, we teach people how to treat us. Sometimes our fear of rejection causes us to surround ourselves with people who use others as doormats. It’s important to have friends who don’t take you for granted and who love who we are inside, but even more importantly, WE have to love who we are inside and let it shine so others can actually see it. Be proud of yourself, love yourself and the rest really will follow.