Rejection is a painful experience that can have detrimental effects on your mental health, emotional wellbeing, and social life. Yet, the truth is that rejection is a common experience because we are social beings.
Many people want to belong and form connections with others, particularly people they care about. Yet, the risk of feeling rejected by those people and feeling unwanted can lead to feelings of shame and low self-esteem.
Unfortunately, the situation gets worse if you have a history of experiencing rejection. In most instances, people with a history of rejection lack self-confidence and choose to simply put up with toxic people because they fear being rejected.
Of course, most of us, if not all of us, to some degree have a fear of rejection. But the truth is that this fear can hold us back from taking risks and pursuing major goals. Fortunately, it is possible to overcome this fear. So, read on to learn more.
What Causes a Fear of Rejection?
A fear of rejection can stem from a variety of factors. They include:
- A physical condition: People who have a physical condition that they believe makes them unattractive, are likely to fear rejection.
- Insecure attachment: Studies show that insecure attachment in children can lead to a fear of rejection in adulthood.
- Experiencing rejection as a child: A person who was rejected as a child, was abandoned or felt unloved can be sensitive to rejection. The person may have had a traumatic experience of rejection as a child that scarred them. They may have never been exposed to healthy ways of handling conflict or disagreements and may lack a healthy sense of self-worth or self-esteem.
Regardless of the cause, this fear can create issues in adult life. Having a fear of rejection can lead to co-dependent, clingy, jealous, obsessive, or angry behavior in relationships. It can also push others away from you, if you are the one with the fear.
A fear of being rejected can often make you reject others to avoid being rejected yourself.
Overall, fear of rejection can lead to a disruptive pattern of behavior and feelings that can hurt relationships and limit how you pursue your dreams in life. Many people who exhibit this fear of rejection and the desire for acceptance are negatively affected in every area of life.
It could affect their choices concerning education, career direction, achievement level, work behavior, interpersonal and marital relationships, social life, and more.
Common Symptoms of the Fear of Rejection
How do you know that you suffer from a fear of rejection? Although this fear exhibits different traits in different people, some of the common symptoms include:
- Difficulty saying ‘no’
- Difficulty in breathing and sweaty palms when faced with a situation. For example, if you fear rejection during a job interview, you may experience these symptoms.
- Hiding your true self from others
- Extreme sensitivity to criticism
- Self-condemnation when things don’t work out.
- Staying in a toxic relationship even when all the signs are there that you should leave.
- Having a habit of people pleasing
- Struggle with making new friends unless you’re certain that they like you.
How To Get Over The Fear Of Rejection
1. Realize that it Happens to Everyone
Ask any therapist, and they’ll inform you that the fear of rejection is a universal experience. It can happen on a small scale or a large scale and can happen several times in a person’s life. For example, a friend can ignore your messages about hanging out, or you can be turned down for a date.
Being rejected is a never a pleasant experience. However, there’s a quote that says, “Rejection is merely redirection: a course correction to your destiny.”
Therefore, if you’re wondering how to get over a fear of rejection, your first step is to realize that it happens to everyone, and you can overcome it.
2. Face Your Fear
Sure, if you isolate yourself from the world, then you won’t experience that much rejection. But the sad truth is that you probably won’t realize your goals either, and you’ll struggle to go after things that will result in your success. You might experience rejection when you face your fear but then again, you may not.
Human beings are hard-wired to avoid pain. Whether it’s physical or emotional, we will avoid it at all costs. That’s why people with a fear of rejection engage in behaviors that make them want avoid it. In fact, research shows that the fear of rejection triggers the same parts of the brain as physical pain.
Yet, the best way to overcome this pain is to turn avoidance into action. If you really want to achieve your goal in a certain area, you must face your fear.
3. Keep Things in Perspective
If you’re overly sensitive to rejection and spend most of your time worrying about it, you might constantly picture yourself experiencing worst case scenarios. For example, when you’re called for a job interview, you may imagine that you won’t get the job even before you get to the interview. Or, when someone asks you to go out on a date, you may imagine that they’ll not like you even before you have met them.
This type of continuous negative self-talk is called catastrophizing, and it’s usually not an ideal framework of reality. One way that you can overcome it is to give yourself a couple of actionable backup plans or come up with counterarguments that help you overcome some of your main fears.
4. Reject Negative Self-talk
People who have a fear of rejection tend to be bombarded with negative self-talk. When they experience rejection, they end up in a cycle of self-criticism. For example, “I shouldn’t have asked her out,” “I shouldn’t have said that,” “I always mess up.”
Such talk frames your belief that the rejection was your fault even when it may have had nothing to do with you at all. If you believe in the negative self-talk, it eventually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So, what would happen if you engaged in positive self-talk? Well, it doesn’t necessarily mean that things will turn out the way you want them to. But it can help improve your perspective. If you encourage and support yourself, then you are more likely you are to accomplish your goals without allowing fear to hold you back.
5. Remind Yourself of Your Worth
When someone experiences rejection, they can lose their confidence and end up loathing themselves. Failure to deal with such feelings can cripple your social life and harm your ability to form healthy relationships.
But instead of letting rejection contribute to a negative frame of mind, that’s self-destructive. You can choose to look at it as a case of two people with needs that simply contradict each other. Unfortunately, some people have a poor way of dealing with conflict. They may ghost a person or alternatively, say hurtful things to them. However, instead of letting their actions affect your life, work on building up your own self-confidence and self-worth.
Remind yourself as frequently as possible that you’re worthy of love. Such a positive perspective will make you less afraid of searching for it.
- Write a paragraph on some of the things that you’re most proud of about yourself
- List five ways that you practice personal values
- Remind yourself of the good characteristics that you possess (kindness, generosity, etc)
6. Look for the Opportunity to Learn
Looking for an opportunity to learn can be a hard tip to swallow, especially if you’re familiar with the pain of rejection. However, the truth is that there’s something to learn from every experience.
Rejection brings with it an opportunity to engage in personal growth and discovery. For instance, if you struggled with self esteem and end up experiencing rejection, you can look at it as a chance to work on boosting your self esteem.
If you are not accepted to take an interview for the job of your dreams, after dealing with the pain of the rejection, you can choose to evaluate your resume or have someone else evaluate it for you to see why you weren’t able to stand out from the other candidates.
When you take this approach, time you experience rejection becomes an opportunity to become better and grow within that area. You never know, you might end up with an even better job opportunity than the one you wanted in the first place.
7. Find Out What Really Scares You About Rejection
Self-discovery is a powerful thing. It helps you understand how certain situations affect you and other people. It also helps you look for the best way to overcome it. The same rule applies to rejection. It’s important to figure out what really scares you about it.
For instance, you may find out that you fear being rejected in a relationship because you don’t want to be lonely. This realization can help you focus on strengthening your friendships or look for ways to overcome loneliness.
Or perhaps you worry about being turned down from a job interview because you are struggling financially and don’t have a plan B. In that case, you could come up with a plan B, incase you don’t get the job you desire right away.
8. After Licking Your Wounds, Feed Your Growth Mindset
A common sayings is ‘what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.’ When it comes to rejection, the best way to overcome it is to feed your growth mindset. The truth is that no one likes being rejected. But it happens, and after going through it, you can exert your efforts on the next best thing, which is growth.
Choose to turn your lemons into lemonade by acknowledging that you’re not perfect and we all make mistakes. A growth mindset means that you view the rejection as an opportunity for self-improvement.
Value the process rather than the end result and work towards cultivating a sense of self purpose. Remember that the emphasis is on growth and not on how fast you grow. Be kind with yourself and take the time to grow to levels that you never even dreamed imaginable.
9. Refuse to Let the Rejection Define You
Most people have the tendency of letting rejection define them. For example, if they got fired from the first job, they feel that they won’t last long in the second job and they see this as being their fault. However, it is essential to realize that such a way of thinking will influence your personality and behavior.
It’s important for you to not allow other people’s opinions and decisions to define you. Just because a relationship failed doesn’t mean that you’re unlovable or that every relationship after this one will also fail.
Similarly, just because your business venture failed doesn’t mean that you’re bad at business. The only person who can define you is yourself.
You can avoid this habit by working on your self-esteem and saying kind things to yourself on a daily basis. Look for inspirational quotes that motivate you to have a positive outlook on life irrespective of the situation and work towards building your resilience.
10. Lean on Your Support Network
It is essential for you to spend time with supportive family and friends when you feel rejected. This will help you avoid the emotional rollercoaster associated with such an experience. Furthermore, when you take time to be with friends and family, their love and knowledge will help you feel less vulnerable and more loved and wanted.
A good support network is great for your mental health, as it helps foster feelings of acceptance and a sense of worth. You need this network to move forward in pursuing your goals and finding success in life.
The Bottom Line
Rejection can sometimes leave a scar that affects your emotions and self-esteem. It hurts and makes you feel demotivated to take risks and pursue your goals. But this fear impedes you from experiencing all that life has to offer.
Choose to free yourself from this fear by looking at rejection as an opportunity for growth instead of something you can’t overcome. This approach will make you less afraid of the opportunities that come after rejection.
Time heals all wounds, and the pain of rejection is no exception to this rule. In time, you may feel like you no longer remember the pain. However, if you still struggle daily with overcoming this fear or the accumulation of past experiences of being rejected, a therapist can guide you through the process to becoming free from the fear of being rejected.