Try to recall how old you were when fear of rejection first entered your life.
For most of us, it happened young: picked last for the sports team, laughed at for having an unexciting Show & Tell, told we couldn’t sit with someone because we smelled funny. Adolescence was fraught with incidences perfectly suited to chipping away any sense of confidence we had and replacing it with doubts which do nothing but fester for the life of the user.
As adults, these doubts become our Fear of Rejection; a fear that will often prevent us from taking the roads less traveled, as the famous poem by Robert Frost immortalized, and instead remain as low key as possible, which often leads to unhappy, unfulfilled lives.
It is best to meet these fears head on and show them for the illusions they are. Here are 8 steps toward conquering some of the most common varieties.
The biggie. The hottest of the hot potatoes. Fear of romantic rejection forms the basis of so much of our lives, even down to how toothpaste is advertised (only the whitest whites will attract a mate! YOUR TEETH ARE NOT AS WHITE AS THEY NEED TO BE!), but it’s also a fear rooted in something considerably far from romantic: possession. That feeling that someone should be “yours.”
We never lose that child inside that stomps its feet when it doesn’t get what it wants. Some of us, however, take that disappointment and turn it inward, almost as punishment. (After all, isn’t punishment what we’re trained to think is the proper response to these tantrums?)
The best way to combat fear of romantic rejection is to first realize you’re not going after a prize but rather hoping to engage a real person, and no person owes another their time, interest, passion, or obligation just because we want them to.
Second, try to see yourself as a whole person, not someone seeking extra body mass to fill a personal hole. If you start off pressuring yourself, you add so much weight to the possibility of rejection that it creates a self-fulfilling prophecy: you think they’ll reject you, you present yourself poorly, romance is not achieved, you name yourself the UnChosen One and bitterly grant your fear the validation it needs in order to survive.
Third, delete the word “rejection” from your romantic lexicon. There are a million overlapping reasons a person might not show interest in you that have nothing to do with you per se, but our societies insist it was “you” that was rejected. Unless you are a jerk, this is not the case. If you are a jerk, rejection totally applies because who wants that in their lives?
Fourth, embrace the old “What’s the worst that could happen” ethos. Again, unless you’re a jerk deserving of a knee to the nethers, the worst that anyone will subject you to is the word “no.” Such a tiny 2-lettered thing! Surely not the terror we think it is. If anything, it’s the bounding-off point to new adventures!
Fifth, stop thinking of romance as warfare. “He was shot down.” “Don’t let love beat you.” The need for a “wing man” in social gatherings. “All’s fair in love and war.” If your mindset is already one of conflict, pain, and carnage, even metaphorically, you’ve already removed yourself from the entire realm of romance and replaced your interactions with strange, cartoonish gameplay.
There comes a point in all our careers where we realize we want more. A promotion. A raise. Maybe simply a reevaluation of duties. But we don’t ask. Fear of rejection rears, and we come up with a variety of chestnuts as to why we shouldn’t bother, from “we’re not good enough” to “they’ll just say no anyway” to “why bother?”
It’s painful to think of how many dreams have withered and died for lack of proper self-watering. Let’s go through these inner roadblocks and see why knocking them down is easier than we thought.
“There’s no way I’ll get that position, I’m not good enough”… even though you’ve likely been performing the functions for years without benefit of title (or pay). “I’m not good enough” is the fear of rejection’s security blanket. Dismiss this fear by balancing it against three equally powerful words: “Yes I am.” Negative conversations we have with ourselves tend to go one-way until challenged.
Thinking someone will say no anyway is you saying no anyway, not anyone else. It is you feeding your blanketed, comfy fear when it is already full. Banish this by realizing it is an automatic negative thought that pops into your head to trip you up whenever you get close to a goal.
This one’s so simple to quell. Why bother? Because you’re worth it. Done and done. People will so often take a point of frustration as pointlessness, when the two are so separate from each other as to be in different timezones.
Reject This Article
“Rejection” is an unavoidable part of every single sentient being’s existence on this planet, even the so-called fortunate ones: the beautiful people, the lucky lot, all those we mythologize as somehow never having faced their own series of childhood NOs. You may find something helpful here or you may reject it outright; that doesn’t change the fact that we’ve met and life goes on.
The fear of not being liked at a new school; the fear of not being a standout at a party; the fear of someone seeing you as less than what you purport to be. Fears on top of fears. That’s so much pressure in a world that simply wants to interact with us and move on. We’re beings of experience, we need contact and sensation from myriad sources throughout our lives, and rarely in the same way twice. The fact that someone says no to you simply means that, at that particular point, the bond of connection between you and them was not yet – nor may ever be – strong. But there are a billion more connections to be made.
The fear of rejection is a fear of impermanence, a fear that you’ll be forgotten, a fear that nothing is yours. In actuality, you are already part of everything, and there’s no need to cling to every interaction as if it’s a magical cure.
Realize. Actualize. Contextualize. Accept. Re-evaluate expectations and assumptions. Value yourself. Avoid self-censure. Say yes to opportunity.
So few things in life ever go as we wish, so fear of possibilities is a foolish thing. If we stop and think about where these fears came from and why we hold onto them, we can begin to dismantle them. We begin to realize that we are what holds them together as blockages while life flows through and around us come what may.
We see that our identities are not being rejected, that our creativity, vision, passion and vitality are not threatened, nor is our self-worth part of the equation.
Yet if we’re all simply drops of water in the stream, isn’t it best to release the fears and go with the flow? So much more is achieved in life by telling ourselves the word yes rather than no.