Fear of rejection is a powerful fear that often has a powerful impact on our lives. Most people experience some nervousness when placed in situations that could lead to rejection, but for some people, fear becomes paralyzing. This fear can have many underlying causes. An untreated fear of rejection can worsen over time, leading to increasing limitations in a patient’s life.
What is fear of rejection?. Fear of rejection is an irrational fear that has you convinced that people will not accept or approve because of their 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 actions. In fact, while under the influence of this fear, you will do things that you would not normally do if you were not afraid of rejection.
For this same reason, your irrational fear of rejection is likely to affect your career prospects, your relationship with others, and 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 manage your fear of rejection.
Common reactions that others may have
Fear of rejection leads to behaviors that make us seem insecure, ineffective, and overwhelmed. You can sweat, shake, fret, avoid eye contact, and even lose the ability to communicate effectively. While people react to these behaviors in very different ways, here are some of the reactions you may see.
Ironically, the fear of rejection often turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is well known in popular psychology that confidence increases attractiveness. As a general rule, the lack of self-confidence that is inherent in fear of rejection makes us more likely to be rejected. Research shows that trust is almost as important as intelligence in determining our income level.
Some people take advantage of the insecurities of others. Those who are afraid of rejection may be at greater risk of being manipulated for someone else’s personal gain.
Skilled manipulators are generally charming, gentle, and affectionate – they know which buttons to push for others to trust them. They also know how to keep someone afraid of rejection feeling slightly nervous, as if the manipulator is leaving at any moment. Almost invariably, the manipulator ends up leaving once they have gotten what they want from the other person.
Most of the people are decent, honest and direct. Instead of manipulating someone with fear of rejection, they will try to help. Look for signs that your friends and family are trying to encourage your assertiveness, asking you to be more open with them or testing your true feelings.
However, many times, people who fear rejection experience these efforts as an emotional threat. This often leads friends and family to walk on eggshells, fearful of making their fears worse. Over time, they can become frustrated and angry, either by confronting your behavior or starting to distance themselves from you.
Although not everyone experiences every impact, fear of rejection tends to affect our ability to succeed in a wide range of personal and professional situations. These are some of the most common.
Have you ever felt warm and uncomfortable while waiting to be called for a job interview? Sweaty palms, labored breathing, increased heart rate, and difficulty speaking are common symptoms of fear of rejection. There are also possible reasons for an employer to reject a candidate.
Confidence and an air of authority are critical in many positions, and those who suffer from this fear often feel weak and insecure. If you are afraid of rejection, you may also have trouble negotiating an employment contract, leaving valuable wages and benefits on the table. 1
In many positions, the need to impress does not end once you have the job. Entertaining clients, negotiating deals, selling products, and attracting investors are key components of many jobs.
Even something as simple as answering the phone can be scary for those who are afraid of rejection, and picking up the phone to call someone else can be impossible.
Meeting new people
Humans are social creatures, and we are expected to follow basic social niceties in public. Most of the time, idle chatter on the grocery line or in the gym lasts only a few moments. Occasionally, however, short conversations lead to lifelong friendships.
If you are afraid of rejection, you may not be able to converse with strangers or even friends of friends. The tendency to support yourself could prevent you from making lasting connections with others.
The first dates are scary for anyone, but those afraid of rejection can quickly feel overwhelmed. Instead of focusing on meeting the other person and deciding if you want a second date, you can spend all your time worrying about whether that person likes you. Speech problems, obsessive preoccupation with appearance, inability to eat, and visibly nervous behavior are common.
Married life consists of an endless series of negotiations and commitments. No matter how compatible it may be, it is impossible for two people to agree on everything. People with fear of rejection often have a hard time expressing their own needs and staying firm.
You can also develop feelings of jealousy or mistrust in your partner, as your fear of rejection turns into fear of being abandoned. This is sometimes expressed in unhealthy behaviors like checking your partner’s phone messages or social media accounts.
The need to belong is a basic human condition. In high school, we tend to self-select as athletes, cheerleaders, nerds, or any other small group. As adults, we tend to organize ourselves by shared interests, relationship status, and other commonalities.
While dressing, talking, and behaving like a group member is unhealthy, peer pressure sometimes goes too far. It could lead you to do things you don’t feel comfortable with just to stay part of the group.
If your fear of rejection leads you to do things that are illegal, immoral, or just unpleasant for you, then peer pressure could be a problem in your life.
Characteristics of a person who is afraid of rejection
The following behaviors are commonly found in people who are afraid of rejection. Reflect the need to compensate or cover up fear.
Many people who are afraid of rejection develop a carefully monitored and programmed way of life. Fearing that you will be rejected if you show your true self to the world, you can live life behind a mask. This can make it seem untrue and inauthentic to others and can cause a rigid unwillingness to accept life’s challenges.
Although it is natural to want to care for those we love, those who fear rejection often go too far. You may find it impossible to say no, even when saying yes causes great inconvenience or difficulty in your own life.
You can take on too much, increasing your own risk of exhaustion. In the extreme, pleasing people sometimes becomes enabling other people’s miss behaviors.
Concerned about losing the other person, you can make excuses or even help the person with behaviors that you know are wrong.
People with fear of rejection often go out of their way to avoid confrontations. You can refuse to ask for what you want or even speak for what you need. A common tendency is to just try to shut down your own needs or pretend they don’t matter.
Uncomfortable showing their true self but unable to completely exclude their own needs many people who fear rejection end up behaving passively-aggressively. 5 You can postpone, “forget”, keep promises, complain, and work inefficiently on the projects you take on.
Also, fear of rejection often prevents us from pursuing our dreams. Exposing yourself is scary for anyone, but if you are afraid of rejection, you may feel paralyzed. Holding on to the status quo feels safe, even if you are not satisfied with your current situation. Whether you want to travel, write a novel, or ask someone for a date, fear of rejection can keep you from reaching your full potential.
How to overcome rejection?
It is very possible that you already suffer fear or rejection without even realizing it.
Sometimes fear of rejection invades us unexpectedly, and often it hides behind a veil of excuses. However, it is very real and has significant dominance in our lives.
Read the following symptoms of fear of rejection and assess how many of them are currently manifesting in your life.
You lack assertiveness when interacting with other people.
You lack the courage to speak and present a different point of view.
Lacks a sense of personal identity.
You are not satisfied with life, but instead of vocalizing it openly, you tend to internalize your sadness and anger.
You always wear different psychological masks to please others.
You feel that other people have a kind of superiority over you.
You are obsessed with acting and looking like other people.
You are incredibly aware of what other people think of you.
You are afraid to say no and express what you really want.
How many of these symptoms prevail in your life?
The more of these symptoms you have marked on your list, the more influence fear of rejection will have on your life, decisions and actions. And that, of course, is completely fine. Recognition and acceptance is always the first step to change.
Now that you are aware that this is an area of your life that needs updating, you can take the necessary steps to make some positive changes.
Just two steps to overcome your fear of rejection
The fear of rejection is comparable to any other fear. Therefore, it will take time to work through and overcome its debilitating effect on your life.
Overcoming any fear, of course, requires patience, hard work, and dedication on your part. The journey will not be easy because habitual patterns of behavior require constant work and an effort to change. But in the end, it will all be worth it.
In the end, the rewards of this trip will help you regain your freedom. They will help you make your own independent path in this world without the approval of other people.
With that in mind, let’s discuss a quick 2-step process that 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 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 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 if I don’t act now to overcome my fear of rejection?
The final question on this list creates pain by pointing out the consequences of inaction. It is vital that you answer honestly. Hopefully, the answer to this question will help provide you with the motivation you need to overcome your fear of rejection.
Step 2: Get adequate perspective and clarity
To overcome any fear, you must first gain adequate perspective and clarity on that fear. To do this, start by identifying what exactly you fear. Ask yourself:
What kind of rejection do I fear?
Whom do I reject 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 fear of rejection.
With this in mind, take the time to identify the useless behaviors you tend to enjoy while fearing rejection. Ask yourself:
How do I behave when I fear rejection?
How is this useless?
How does this hurt?
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 overcome this fear optimally. Ask yourself:
How else could you deal with this situation?
How else could you think of this situation?
How could it be useful?
Finally, think about the possible obstacles you may need to overcome to overcome your fear of rejection. Ask yourself:
What potential obstacles stand in my way?
Are these obstacles real or imaginary?
How will I overcome these obstacles?
The obstacles you face can, of course, be real or imaginary. In fact, when it comes to fear of rejection, many of the obstacles you face are mainly in your head. And because they are in your head, you can certainly beat them as long as you are honest with yourself and commit to change.
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