Whether we like to admit it or not, most of the choices we make are based on the fear of rejection. From a young age we seek such things as acceptance, affirmation, meaning, and at the core of it all love. First we seek this from our parents, and as we grow older we seek these from various relationships from peers to friendships to lovers. In much the way that an old broken bone pains in cold weather, it seems to be the moments of rejection that we’ve encountered in our past that leave their lasting effects.
The thing is when you think about it, the bottom line is what does all fear lead to? Loss. We fear losing a variety of things, money, health, status, youth and looks, peace of mind. But the thing that we often fear the most above all these is losing the approval of others. The fear of rejection is everywhere, and has been for as long as can be remembered. When you think about it most religions are based upon it. One just has to look to Genesis and the story of Adam and Eve being banised from the garden of Eden. A move by a so-called creator that has resulted in the fear of rejection being there from the moment we are born.
Look at how the ancient tribes used to interact. The greatest punishment and shame was being forever banished from the safety and community of their tribe. This similar act of rejection has been seen throughout history to modern day from high class society circles to the popular kids at school. We live in a wolrd where sad to admit it but rejection is everywhere. People use rejection as a sense of power over others. The need to feel desirable and part of something greater than ourselves whether it be family, friendships, career, and loving relationships is inevitable in the society that we live in today. Some are willing to go to extreme lengths just to preserve that feeling of belonging, sometimes at the sacrifice of thier own identity. I say this because I’ve been there and I know many others who have too.
Similar to the way a lighthouse warns ships of dangers in the distance, a certain level of fear should keep us first alert and then safe. But if that fear is not balanced, what we have is a blinding light in much the same way a rabbit finds itself frozen to the spot staring into the headlights of an upcoming car. Our ability to act is completely thrown out the window and we risk the loss of the very thing we fear losing. And this is quite true when is comes to the consequences that we face with the fear of rejection.
Here’s a few examples of what I mean…
You’re struggling in a relationship, you have certain needs or feelings but you choose not bring them to light in fear that your partner will reject you and it could mean the end of the relationship. Instead you keep those feelings inside and overtime it brings a strain to the relationship that inevitably brings on the very thing you feared will happen.
You work hard in your job, you put in the hard yards and the extra overtime. You want recognition or at least the salary to reflect it. But you you can’t bring yourself to chat to your boss because you put yourself in the mindset that everyone is replaceable. Instead you go through the motions, you keep working the job, the passion dwindles, the quality of your work drops and suddenly you have the boss saying those fateful words “You’re fired!”
You meet someone that you connect with. Maybe the situation is a little weird, and you’re still getting over the past hurt and rejection of your own previous relationship. The two of you continue to connect on a deeper level. Perhaps there’s little signs on either side of an interest in being more than just friends, but you’re scared to make the first move or reciprocate their advances. As time goes by and the lack of communication and understanding of where each other stands, the lines become so blurred that the two of you no longer know how to interact with each other.
Maybe you’ve been working in the same industry for so long that you need a change. You want to try something new and different. Perhaps you’ve sent out an application for a new job, only to find out your application wasn’t successful. Instead you fill your mind with thoughts such as “You’re not good enough” or “it’s too late.” Before you know it you’re still working in that dead end job full of regret and bitterness. It pays the bills but doesn’t pay your happiness.
Now looking at these four examples there is something they all have in common, while at first glance you would be right in thinking it is the fear of rejection but it goes deeper than that. Self doubt. When we doubt ourselves, we doubt our ability to take action ultimately controlling how we interact with people and function in everyday life whether it be in raising a family or attending our daily duties at work.
A friend once said to me these words and they’ve kind stuck with me ever since, “Never judge yourself of other people’s opinions of you. Because ultimately they’re just a manifestation of their own inner insecurities.”
Now I’m gonna be pretty blunt here and also because this post has turned out a lot longer than I anticipated. If your seeking worth from other people, enjoy the train wreck. You will always face the fear of rejection because what motivates you is the approval of others. Sooner or later you’re going to find yourself in a situation where your rejected by somoene whether it’s a friend, boss or even lover and because you’ve given so much power to this person everything is going to come come crashing down, you’re pretty much going to fly right off the track and be left a shattered mess on the side.
Franklin D. Roosevelt once said “there is nothing to fear but fear itself.” There’s some profoundness in those words.I’m sure many of you have heard of the term self-fulfilling prophecy.
“The self-fulfilling prophecy is, in the beginning, a false definition of the situation evoking a new behaviour which makes the original false conception come true. This specious validity of the self-fulfilling prophecy perpetuates a reign of error. For the prophet will cite the sctual course of events as proof that he was right from the very beginning.”
Say you’re in a relationship and you wrongly believe your partner is rejecting you. You find yourself acting out of anxiety, defensiveness perhaps even out of anger. Time goes by and eventually this behaviour brings about the very feared rejection that wasn’t even there to begin with. There are some people that just want to be proved right, even if this means resulting in a bad outcome. For some people expecting the worst kind of acts as a type of emotional insurance policy so to speak.
Ask yourself, how do your beliefs and fears of possible rejection influence your behaviour and how you react to circumstances and interact with people? If you feel rejection is the worst thing possible, you will fear it all the more. Fear is only as powerful as you let it. If you sit down and think “okay, if he/she does leave me, how will I manage?”, you are facing that fear constructively. The fact of the matter is of course you will survive, you might even find yourself thriving and flourishing in ways you might not have even thought possible, doors may even open up to the possibilities of new relationships.
Knowing you’ll be okay no matter what happens or what rejection you might face not only provides you with confidence in yourself but will also make way for you to finally switch the off button on the rejection detector that for the most part is usually faulty to begin with. Do I still suffer with the fear of rejection? Looking at recent circumstances that I’ve found myself in I would be lying if I said didn’t. However I try not to give power into the fear that it completely dictates my every choice, instead I choose to use it as guidance on those stormy seas. I think it’s important to remember our hearts only get hurt as much as we let it, and there is a beautiful sense of empowerment there.
Originally when starting this post I thought I was writing about the fear of rejection but looking over what I’ve written I think it’s gone a little bit deeper than that. Maybe it makes sense and maybe it doesn’t. Honestly I’m not quite sure it’s like 2 in the morning right now. I guess I just want to encourage you with this; If by chance you find yourself in a situation where someone does reject you, don’t instantly think your worthless or unlovable, simply take it as very clear feedback about themselves and what they might want in life. Sometimes there’s a lot to be said about the “rejecter” rather than the “rejected.”
What are your thoughts?