FEAR OF REJECTION
Everybody faces rejection at some time in their life. Sometimes we are rejected for a job and occasionally we face rejection in relationships. Most people just forget about the rejection and get on with their lives, looking for new and better opportunities.
But there are some who are taken aback by rejection and can’t accept the fact. After several rejections, these people acquire a fear of rejection, which prevents them from giving their best and results in still more rejection. So the fear of rejection develops into a vicious circle.
Many people who experience fear of rejection have had a troubled childhood. They did not feel loved by their parents or other family members, and an odious comparison with siblings or other children brought on a feeling of inadequacy.
Many of these children imitate the behavior of those who they admire in a misguided attempt to fulfill their parents’ expectations, resulting in them trying to discard their own personality and disguise themselves as someone else. They grow up to be adults with low self esteem and distorted personalities.
Sufferers tend to exhibit a particular pattern of behavior. They are unwilling to communicate openly and hesitate to express their views. And if their views happen to be different from those of the ones they are trying to please, they find it difficult to disagree and keep their personal feelings hidden.
Fear of rejection in relationships often comes from previous rejections or failed relationships. Sufferers do not want to initiate a relationship for fear of being turned down. When in a relationship they tend to take it too seriously, too soon.
This can be disturbing to the other person and result in a failed relationship. People with a fear of rejection are often manipulated by the people they try to please. In groups, they are always at the periphery and are not allowed within their inner circle.
Fear of rejection, like many other social phobias, can be overcome by positive action. Here are a few tips for overcoming the fear of rejection. Many sufferers have become conditioned to always trying to please others. So become aware of when you’re feeling this way and learn to say ‘no’ when people’s demands or requests seem unreasonable.
By saying ‘no’ you are respecting your own needs and boosting your self confidence. Also you will learn to understand and respect those occasions when people say no to you.
Learn how to please yourself and work out in advance your needs for the day and calculate how to achieve them. Don’t let yourself be sidetracked by others who ant to put their needs before yours. This will show you the way to feeling comfortable about saying ‘no’ to others if you feel the need.
Remember that you have a fundamental right to be happy. Don’t allow your feelings of self-worth be governed by whether or not you’re rejected by other people. If you face rejection, tell yourself to move on. If you are rejected for a job or experience any other form of rejection, simply move on and don’t take it personally. Start looking for other opportunities which may turn out better.
Always remember that if you hold back from interacting with people because of your fear of rejection, you miss out on the possibility of acceptance and all that it can bring. If you place yourself in a position where people can’t say ‘no’, then you don’t offer them the opportunity to say ‘yes’.
WOUNDING REJECTION AND SELF-CONFIDENCE
While working as a therapist, I have come across many men and women who have an extreme fear of rejection which has been based on the pain they have experienced when previous relationships have come to an end.
How ironic, do you not think, that we can be prevented from getting into a relationship because of our fear of what we may experience when it comes to an end?
And yet, where human relationships are concerned, such fear is far from uncommon. Would you believe it possible that a man or woman could refrain from engaging in a sexual relationship, simply because they feared rejection?
I suppose to some of you that may not come as a surprise, but perhaps those of you who find this a little disquieting may be reassured if I define “rejection” by means of a story about a client of mine.
One man who came to see me was so traumatized by his sexual experience that he had not sought out a relationship after his first disastrous experience with a woman at the age of 18.
Somewhat older than him, she had derided his sexual competence after he ejaculated within two minutes of intercourse starting. In fact, she told him to get out of her bed and get out of the house, and never to see her again.
This proved to be so traumatic for the man concerned, possibly because he felt shamed, but more likely because the sheer rejection was too much to cope with, and far too damaging for his self-esteem to be easily rebuilt, that he had never attempted to form a sexual relationship with a woman again — until he came to see me at the age of 37.
Now then, you begin to see the power of rejection?
I would define rejection as anything that severs connection between two or more people, no matter how tenuous; or anything which can leave your his self-esteem in tatters due to the way an individual had spoken to you, behaved towards you, or feels towards you.
After all, rejection is really, at its root, about the existential denial of another person’s right to be different to yourself, another person’s right to do whatever they are doing, another person’s right to be there, or another person’s right to have the characteristics that they have (such as premature or delayed ejaculation).
I know it’s a very sweeping and wide definition, but I believe it to be appropriate. When you think about it, one of the key factors in maintaining social order is to exclude those who have failed to comply with society’s system of control, its dictates, orders, legislation, and customs even.
You see this in many animal societies, particularly those which depend on a social existence for survival against predators: horses, for example, will exclude an individual from the herd for as long as it takes to modify its behavior. When re-admitted to the herd, the behavior of the excluded individual is very different. Very conforming.
So exclusion and rejection are powerful weapons that animals and humans use, unconsciously or consciously, against each other in the search for — well, what? Social dominance, social order, social exclusion?
So why, for example, would a woman in bed with the young man mentioned above, berate and deride him for his failure to sustain intercourse for longer than a few minutes?
Certainly this may have reflected a disappointment, but it’s an unkind and harsh way of expressing disappointment. Does this mean that rejection is sometimes the consequence of people’s inexperience, social ability or lack of social ability?
Might it be that when disappointment is expressed in such profound terms of rejection, that the real problem lies in the emotional in articulacy of the person who is wounding the other?
Yes, to some extent, certainly. But it also lies in the fact that person wounded is sensitive enough to be damaged by this rejection, and not strong enough to stand up and put a boundary in place which would consist, perhaps, of something like: “That is completely unacceptable; do not speak to me like that; I have no intention of seeing you ever again.”
This of course is something that comes from self-confidence and social experience, so we’re beginning to form a picture, perhaps, of people who feel rejection, or rather more accurately fear rejection, as those who may not be particularly self-confident, those who perhaps have weak boundaries, and those who have been wounded in childhood.
The problem is of course that in childhood there are many ways we can be wounded.
We are very sensitive as individuals by nature, and because of the need for social interaction, and in particular the need to be part of a group, it’s especially true that those of us who are brought up without consideration and respect will be very sensitive indeed to rejection.
Exclusion from the group is exclusion from many other things — not just internal values like appreciation and approval, but sometimes, at least, biologically and instinctually, exclusion from protection, survival and even existence itself.
With such existential forces at work, it’s no wonder that people fear rejection, to the extent of having a phobia around it. What can you do if you have a fear of rejection?
My suggestion would be that you use a good therapeutic technique, of which there are many to choose from; your difficulty may lie more in finding the one that is suitable for you than in finding a therapy that works.
I’ve experienced clients gaining great benefit from Emotional Freedom Technique, also known as EFT, or EFT tapping. If you’d like some information about EFT and phobia, please click on this link EFT and phobia – training to lower anxiety.
Now supposing that you don’t believe in energy therapy like EFT, what are you going to do? The answer probably lies in conventional psychotherapy on a one-to-one basis, and you can obtain details and information about therapists who may be able to deal with fear of rejection from either the American Counseling Association or the British Association For Counseling and Psychotherapy.
FEAR OF REJECTION
A recent client of mine had a huge fear of rejection: of getting rejected by the opposite sex, of rejection when meeting new people in general, even when trying to get a job. He didn’t enjoy going out anymore and was pretty unhappy most of the time.
When we talked, it became clear he believed that rejection would mean everyone would lose respect for him. And he would feel worthless. So why was he so dependent on othe rpeople’s opinions? Read on.
Fear Of Rejection And How It Damages Your Life
Fear of rejection is based on the irrational belief that no one will accept you as you are, nor accept what you stand for and how you behave. This fear can be the product of rejection in early childhood, or later in life. But these days, therapists and counselors tend to find ways to overcome the fear of rejection rather than look at its origins!
We’ll examine these techniques in a moment.
But first, fear of getting rejected can impact on you in many ways:
- It makes you think what other people think of you is more important than your own opinion of yourself.
- It puts others in charge of how you feel and gives them the power to “push your buttons”.
- It makes you fearful of saying or doing something “wrong”.
- It makes you withhold your true self because you fear of not being accepted and respected.
- It makes you look for reassurance from other people and want their approval.
- It distances you from other people because they sense your neediness.
- It makes you jealous in relationships.
- It may make you try to get into relationship too fast, looking for security.
- Fear of rejection can make you reject others (before they reject you!)
- Fear of rejection may make you want to fit into society’s norms and standards instead of being unique.
Techniques To Overcome Fear Of Rejection
Instead of fearing rejection, think about benefits from overcoming your fear:
- Focus on a positive outcome: the date, the possible new friend, the new job.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you do get rejected.
- Decide to be courageous and go for your desired outcome.
- If you do get rejected, be proud of yourself for trying.
Set boundaries: be clear about what you want.
- For example, the person you want to date must be a friendly, honest person. The job you want must have a specific salary and amount of free days.
- Note that if you settle only for what you want, you will naturally decrease your fear of rejection. After all you are now setting expectations as well!
Often being rejected has no real consequences – except on your self-esteem. So make sure you have words ready to deal with rejection: if it’s a date who doesn’t want to see you again, for example, say, “OK, it was nice meeting you anyway, have a nice day.”
Or when you get rejected after the job interview, you could say “OK, I understand, thank you for considering me as a candidate. Would you mind telling me what I could have done better so I can improve on my next job interview?”
All of these things indicate confidence and so help to reduce your fear of rejection. I might add there is nothing wrong with playing at being confident – rehearsing it, even if you don’t feel it, is a good way to develop real confidence and overcome fear of rejection.
And further more, don’t take rejection personally. If you get rejected it can be a blow to the ego, but try to see it in perspective.
Getting rejected is inevitable in life. It will happen. If you accept this as a fact and decide to go for it anyway you become more powerful.
Note also that rejection only has the meaning YOU give it. So if your fear of rejection is based on the fact that rejection means you are unworthy and a loser, change the meaning you give it to something more productive, for example: “I did not get the outcome that I wanted.
This means I need to consider changing my approach. I can now use this knowledge to my advantage because I now know how not to do this! “
OVERCOME FEAR OF REJECTION
Do you fear new relationships because you worry that you will be rejected?
If the fear of rejection is stopping you forming new friendships or relationships, fear not! I will show you several techniques which will effectively overcome your fear of rejection.
Rejection causes so much difficulty because we link it to qualities that no-one wants: very negative views of oneself. (Loser, pathetic, inadequate…and so on. You no doubt know what I mean.)
But the more you think about the possibility of rejection, the harder it is to face another event when you might get rejected again!
And if you happen to be emotionally sensitive, or your self-esteem’s a bit shaky, or if you’ve had a dysfunctional or abusive childhood, rejection can seem like the end of the world. (Of course, a lot depends on how you define “rejection”. So at least some of this is “all in the mind”.)
However, whether you are sensitive and shy, or confident and out-going, you can change the way you talk to yourself about the your fear of rejection: sure, this means practicing some new ways of thinking about rejection, and you will need the help of some good techniques to develop more supportive ways of thinking.
But one thing remains: if you want to interact with other people and make friends, you have to accept that occasionally people will reject you.
To make fear of rejection less powerful, and reduce the possibility of rejection you can:
- Remind yourself what beating your fear of rejection will do for you (things like having a happy social life)
- Change the way you talk to yourself about rejection and stop tying your self-worth to acceptance and rejection
- Take small steps when developing new relationships
Know which people to look for (avoiding those who will reinforce a pattern of rejection)
- Perhaps – depending how brave you are – set out to experience rejection (that way you’ll learn fear of rejection is not so bad)
- Decide to make approaches to other people with an open mind about the outcome
- Make a lot of approaches to other people.
One way that you can lessen the fear of rejection is to develop relationships slowly. Your efforts can then be low key and casual, rather than intense. Also, check out a person’s body language and facial expressions.
Do they give you encouragement with smiles and nods? Is their posture open or closed? Do you sense they wish to carry on with the conversation?
If the other person shows no signs of rejection, and is enjoying your company, then you must overcome fear of rejection and make some invitation that will continue the relationship.
Although this may sound terrifying, and indeed may spark your fear of rejection, one way to get over fear of rejection is to put yourself into places and situations where you will get rejected a lot. This is a dramatic kind of therapy, but it is the choice of some therapists in the treatment of shyness.
If you actually confront the situations which cause you to develop a fear of rejection, dealing with the feared event will reduce its power over you. Use some techniques to develop new ways of thinking about rejection, so you can get over negative and self doubting thoughts.
If you have a profound fear of rejection, you may believe your self-worth depends on whether people “approve” of you or accept you. But judging your worth in this way is going to build low self-esteem, because you can become so overwhelmed by negative emotions that you don’t even see the flaws in your thinking.
By making many social overtures, you can clearly see that rejection is simply a part of life. It does not mean you are a flawed human being.
Another important point: even though you cannot control rejection, you can control how you respond to rejection.
If you condemn yourself and stop interacting if you think someone will reject you, then you will miss out on all the warmth, pleasure, fun and excitement that other people can offer you.
And it’s a truth that if you do not put yourself in a situation where a man or woman may say “no” to you, you will never be in a situation where they can say “yes”.
So, the more often you interact with others, the more likely you will be to overcome your fear of rejection. Even though some of those people will reject you, the odds of some people accepting you is still greater than it would be if you met no-one!