A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success. – Bo Bennett
What Exactly is the Fear of Rejection?
The fear of rejection is an irrational fear that has you convinced that people won’t accept or approve of you due to your opinions, looks, personality, values, beliefs or behavior.
No matter what it is, one thing is clear, this is a very debilitating fear that significantly influences your daily choices, decisions, and action. In fact, while under the influence of this fear you will do things that you would normally not do if you didn’t fear rejection.
For this very reason, your irrational fear of rejection is likely to impact your career prospects, your relationship with others, as well as your everyday social interactions.
Here, in our exploration, we will investigate how to better understand the fear of rejection. However, you may also be interested in learning more about how to handle your fear of rejection.
The Consequences of Succumbing to the Fear of Rejection
Living with the fear of rejection can be quite detrimental to our quality of life as it tends to impact and influence many aspects of our everyday experience.
With that in mind, let’s explore six consequences of this debilitating fear and how it negatively influences our quality of life.
Prevents You From Sharing Your Personal Opinions
Fearing rejection often makes you feel as though you’re incapable or merely unable to express your own personal opinions.
You hold back your opinions about certain things because you fear that other people might disapprove or disagree.
This fear can become so debilitating that you literally won’t do or say anything that contradicts another person’s opinion. You essentially become a “people pleaser.” Or, in other words, you do and say things not because you believe them, but primarily because agreeing with another person reduces the likelihood that you will be rejected.
Leads to Excessive Copying of Other People’s Behavior
The fear of rejection has such a firm hold over your life that you are afraid to be different — afraid to be uniquely yourself.
As a result, you end up copying how other people act, talk, and dress. You might even adopt other people’s values and beliefs. Subsequently, you begin to live this illusory life that has absolutely no basis in reality.
There is, of course, nothing wrong with modeling other people. You do it all the time. In fact, everybody does it all the time without conscious thought or awareness. However, there is a significant difference between modeling someone’s behavior — in an attempt to adopt it as your own — and copying someone behavior out of fear of rejection.
Modeling comes from your intention to improve yourself and your livelihood. In such instances, you are modeling other people’s behavior but staying true to who you are. In other words, you are modeling others to improve yourself.
On the other hand, copying is something that you do out of fear. You temporarily lose touch with who you are in a feeble attempt to please other people.
You Succumb Emotionally to People’s Changing Opinions
Because you fear rejection, you have a tendency to build the foundation of your emotional experiences on other people’s feelings, comments, criticism and/or praise.
This implies that you have an external locus of control, which means that your entire livelihood, happiness, and fulfillment in life is dependent on external factors.
All the emotions you experience are primarily based on what other people think and say about you. As a result, your life is an emotional roller coaster ride. One day you’re feeling great, and the very next day your emotions are spiraling out of control.
Given all this, you persistently fall prey to significant mood swings throughout the day. These mood swings stem from how you perceive and interpret other people’s feelings, behavior, words, and actions.
You have essentially lost all sense of identity and consistently struggle to find self-acceptance.
You Succumb to Excessive Neediness
You might not realize this, but your fear of rejection is coming across as a sense of neediness.
Since you don’t express your own opinions, and since your sense of identity rests in other people’s hands, you have a tendency to become very needy.
You rely on other people to make you feel happy, you crave positive attention, and you find it extremely difficult to say no.
You Succumb to Manipulation
Other people naturally sense that you’re very needy and that you seek constant approval. As a result, they will either manipulate you for their own purposes, or they will simply take you for granted. Either way, you lose.
People like to associate with individuals who are confident and who value their own personal worth. These are the kind of people that are rarely manipulated or taken for granted. They are the kind of people you should model and aspire to become.
You Fall Victim to Feelings of Guilt and Dissatisfaction
To live with the fear of rejection is to live a life of extreme dissatisfaction and guilt.
You’re never truly happy because happiness comes from within. And as far as your happiness is concerned, it’s built upon what others do, say or think about you.
All this, of course, stems back to a lack of self-esteem, which essentially sits at the core of our feelings of rejection.
The Evolution of Your Fear of Rejection
As hard as it might be to believe, you were actually not born fearing rejection. It’s not a natural part of the human psyche.
You instead developed the fear of rejection over time as a result of your interactions with others and the world around you.
But today, there are real legitimate reasons why you continue to suffer from the fear of rejection. Here are some ideas of how this fear has continued to linger in your life.
You Struggle with Poor Self-Esteem
The primary reason the fear of rejection is prevalent in your life is often due to a lack of self-esteem.
You fear rejection because you have a low value and opinion of yourself. As a result, you look to others for cues to help you feel better about yourself. But, of course, if for any reason people don’t approve, you succumb to feeling dejected.
Often low self-esteem stems back to childhood experiences. In fact, certain events might have taken place that naturally made you doubt your sense of worth.
It could even have been one significant traumatic experience of rejection that immediately transformed your view of the world and of other people.
You Lack Self-Confidence
A lack of self-confidence often stems from not having a sense of accomplishment.
You don’t necessarily feel as though you’ve achieved anything of significance in this world. This might be a direct result of feeling stuck in a constricting comfort zone.
Your lack of self-confidence might also result from a plethora of other fears that are robbing you of your livelihood.
Subsequently, you look to others for cues about what you should or shouldn’t do in specific situations.
There is essentially nothing wrong with looking to others for guidance and direction — as long as your primary intention is to learn and grow from the experience and then to later do things independently.
However, if you intend to win the approval and acceptance of other people, then the fear of rejection will always have a stranglehold on your life.
You Lack Social Skills
The fear of rejection can also be a direct indication that you need to upgrade your social skills.
You may lack confidence in social situations due to long periods of social isolation you experienced as a child.
If you don’t have the necessary social skills to make your way in the world, then you are likely to depend more on other people to provide you with the necessary cues you need to figure things out.
This is all well and good. In fact, this is an ideal way to learn more about the world and about your social environment. However, it doesn’t work so well when your dependence on other people outweighs your desire for independence.
As a result, you don’t attempt to learn and grow from your experience but instead, rely on other people to dictate how you will feel at any moment in time.
You Were Constantly Compared to Other People
Fear of rejection can often stem from the fact that while you were growing up, you were always compared to other people.
These persistent periods of comparison have convinced you that you must now imitate other people’s behavior, values, beliefs, and opinions in order to be accepted into their world.
You don’t feel as though you’re good enough, and you, therefore, have a need to be someone you’re not in order find acceptance and approval.
As a result, you have a strong desire to meet people’s expectations of you, and this often leads to a reliance on other people’s opinions to help support your sense of self.
How to Recognize the Fear of Rejection
It’s very possible that you already suffer from the fear or rejection without even realizing it.
Sometimes the fear of rejection creeps up on us unexpectedly and often hides behind a veil of excuses. However, it is very real and has a significant stranglehold on our lives.
Have a read of the following symptoms of the fear of rejection and assess how many of them are currently manifesting in your life.
- You lack assertiveness while interacting with other people.
- You lack the courage to speak up and raise a different point of view.
- You lack a sense of personal identity.
- You’re dissatisfied with life, but instead of vocalizing it openly, you tend to internalize your sadness and anger.
- You’re consistently wearing different psychological masks to please others.
- You feel as though other people have a kind of superiority over you.
- You’re obsessed with acting and looking like other people.
- You’re incredibly conscious of what other people think of you.
- You’re afraid to say no and express what you truly want.
How many of these symptoms are prevalent in your life?
The more of these symptoms you just checked off your list, the more influence the fear of rejection has over your life, decisions, and actions. And that, of course, is entirely okay. Acknowledgement and acceptance is always the first step to change.
Now that you’re consciously aware that this is an area of your life that needs an upgrade, you can take the necessary steps to make some positive changes.
Just Two-Steps for Overcoming Your Fear of Rejection
The fear of rejection is comparable to any other fear. It will, therefore, take time to work through and overcome its debilitating effect on your life.
Overcoming any fear, of course, takes patience, hard work, and dedication on your part. The journey will not be easy because habitual patterns of behavior require consistent work and effort to change. But in the end, it will all be worthwhile.
In the end, the rewards of this journey will help you gain your freedom back. They will help you make your own independent way in this world without needing to rely on other people’s approval.
With that in mind, let’s break down a quick 2-step process you can use to help you overcome your fear of rejection.
Step 1: Identify What You Want
To overcome your fear of rejection, you must first identify what it is you want and why exactly you want those things.
There must be legitimate reasons for wanting to overcome your fear of rejection. Without legitimate reasons, there will be very little motivation to make a change. Ask yourself:
What do I want?
Why is this important to me?
How will I benefit?
What will I miss out on if I don’t act right now to overcome my fear of rejection?
The final question on this lists creates pain by pinpointing the consequences of inaction. It’s vital that you answer it honestly. The answer to this question will hopefully help provide you with the motivation you need to overcome your fear of rejection.
Step 2: Gain Proper Perspective and Clarity
To overcome any fear, you must first gain proper perspective and clarity about that fear. To do this, begin by identifying what it is precisely you fear. Ask yourself:
What type of rejection do I fear?
Whose rejection do I fear? Why?
Okay, so now you have a general idea of what exactly you’re working with. However, you still need more information about what specifically happens when you experience the fear of rejection.
With this in mind, take time to identify the unhelpful behaviors you tend to indulge in while fearing rejection. Ask yourself:
How do I behave when I fear rejection?
How is this unhelpful?
How is this hurting me?
This should now give you enough information about your fear. Your next step is to identify more resourceful behaviors that could be used to help you work through this fear in optimal ways. Ask yourself:
How else could I approach this situation?
How else could I think about this situation?
How could this be helpful?
Finally, have a think about the potential obstacles that you might need to work through to overcome your fear of rejection. Ask yourself:
What potential obstacles stand in my way?
Are these obstacles real or imagined?
How will I overcome these obstacles?
The obstacles you face can, of course, be real or imagined. In fact, when it comes to the fear of rejection, many of the obstacles you face are primarily in your head. And because they are in your head, you can most certainly overcome them as long as you’re honest with yourself and make a commitment to change.
Overcoming the fear of rejection isn’t a one-and-done sort of thing. It’s an ongoing process that you must consciously work through until the moment other people’s opinions no longer bother you.
This, of course, requires an unwavering commitment to ongoing self-improvement — an unwavering commitment to building your self-confidence, self-worth, and self-esteem over time. For this to happen though, you must take time to master two fundamental skill.
We, of course, live in a social world. As a result, we interact with other social beings. During these social interactions, we risk being criticized, judged, and rejected. It’s the way life is, and there’s nothing you or I can do about it.
Even though you can’t control what other people think, do or say, you can, however, minimize the impact of that rejection by developing your social skills along with your ability to assert yourself when required.
The more competent you are in social situations, and the more assertive you are while speaking your mind and asking for what you want, the more confidence you will exude when around others.
With a higher degree of confidence, you will feel more capable of dealing with any social rejection you might experience.
Subsequently, the more confidence you have in yourself, the more confidence others will have in you, and before you know it, the tables will have turned.
Other people will swiftly look to you for guidance and support. They will look to you for acceptance and approval. And they might even end up modeling their own behavior on the person that you have become. 🙂
Time to Assimilate these Concepts
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Gain More Knowledge…
Here are some additional links and resources that will help you learn more about this topic:
- 5 Ways the Fear of Rejection Holds You Back @ Forbes
- 6 Ways to Conquer the Fear of Rejection @ Inc.
- 7 Ways to Get Over Your Fear of Rejection and Achieve Lasting Love @ Huffington Post
- Deconstructing the Fear of Rejection: What Are We Really Afraid of? @ Psych Central
- Facing Rejection? 5 Steps to Handle Them Like a Pro @ Dumb Little Man
- How to Combat Your Fear of Rejection @ Entrepreneur
- How to Turn Rejection into Inspiration @ Work Happy Now
- Overcoming Rejection: A Personal Journey @ Entrepreneur
- Rejection: What it Means and How to Handle It @ Pick the Brain
- The Fear of Rejection: A One Day Cure @ Psychology Today