Rejection: Why Do We Fear it?
What Can Be Done About it?
By Marie Miguel
Irrational fears are quite common in our psyche. We have a fear of flying, even though flying is much safer than driving a car. Despite that tidbit of wisdom, we may doubt our ability to step onto the plane. We may fear the common house spider, even though they help to catch pests. One prevalent fear found in many is the fear of rejection.
The biggest consequence of rejection is that someone tells you “No,” yet we fear it no matter the situation. It’s as if that “No” was a death sentence.
So Why Do We Fear Rejection?
Everyone has their own reason they fear being rejected, but there are some common themes. These include:
Low Self-Esteem or Confidence
People often think lowly of themselves, or feel like they don’t have the courage to say what they want to say. Because of this, they may fear rejection because they don’t want their self-esteem or confidence to be worse than it already is. If you think you’re ugly, you may avoid potential relationships because you fear that someone will tell you no.
Some Past Hiccup
Another reason why we fear rejection is because of some trauma in the past. Perhaps you were someone who was told “no” too many times, even if you had a reasonable request. Maybe when you were young, you asked the prom queen out, and she shot you down.
Rejection in the past can stick with you, and it can make other opportunities much harder to obtain because you lack the confidence to even apply to it.
We Think the Absolute Worse Will Happen
Sometimes, the reason we fear rejection is because we imagine that the worst will happen. This is usually more than a “no.” For example, we may fear that if we ask someone out, not only will they say no, but they’ll talk about how awful of a person you were. You may fear that if you apply to the job, not only will they say no, but they’ll talk about how unskilled you are.
Regardless of the reason, rejection happens, especially in common situations.
Some Common Situations Where the Fear of Rejection Takes Over
A Job Interview
Some people fear rejection so much that even the application process is difficult to deal with, but if you make it there, you may fear the job interview. You worry you’ll be rejected and will have wasted all your time at the interview. You may imagine yourself coming in the interview with mismatched socks, or stumbling during the final question.
It’s usually a self-fulfilling prophecy, too. Your fears make your hands sweaty, eyes shifty, and this turns off the employer.
The same rules apply. First, when you’re talking to someone you want to date, you may fear asking them out and instead talk about meaningless stuff until they lose interest. If you do date, you may come in looking nervous and afraid, and this may decrease your chances of another date.
It doesn’t have to be something life-changing. Talking to potential new friends can make you fear rejection. You may worry that they won’t like you and they’ll talk negatively about you to your other peers. You may spend your time on your phone instead of socializing and making a new pal. Again, this is usually the case of a self-fulfilling prophecy at work.
It Can Be Toxic
Besides the fact that rejection can make you miss opportunities, you may develop some toxic traits because of it. For example:
- You could come across as bitter and angry all the time. Your frustrations are hard to voice, and it may come in a form that’s more off-putting than it should be.
- You may be a little more passive-aggressive than others. This can turn people away from you.
- Fearing rejected could cause you to be easily manipulated. You may stick to people who just want to use you, since they don’t reject you if you do everything you want.
How to Fear Rejection Less
Growing past your fear of rejection is possible. Let’s talk about a few things you can do.
First, the most important step you can take is to seek help from a counselor or therapist. Talking about your fears to someone, especially a professional, is nothing to be ashamed of. A therapist can help you get to the bottom of why you fear rejection, and teach you some valuable ways to move past it. Online therapy can help you just as much as regular therapy can, and if you want to try online therapy, click here for more information about it.
Working out can help with your fear of rejection in many ways. For one thing, working out can help you to focus on running or lifting weights, keeping your mind off your fear. Not only that, but working out can make you feel less fearful because your mind releases endorphins, chemicals that make you feel good and ready to take on the world.
Besides that, working out is a great way to release your frustrations. If you feel upset or angry about your fears, punching a bag or running your heart out can make you feel amazing.
Finally, it can help improve your energy and appearance, which may help on the confidence side of things.
One Step at a Time
If you fear something, gradual exposure is a great idea. Order everything you fear rejection of from smallest to biggest. For example, if you fear being rejected on a date, first conquer a smaller social fear, like saying hi to someone on the street. Just one step at a time can increase your fears and make you feel much better in the process.
Another way to combat your fear of rejection is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness involves full awareness of the present. When you're mindful, you don’t fear the future, but are instead focused on the here and now.
Achieving mindfulness is possible no matter who you are. Controlled breathing, learning to discard your negative thoughts, and being aware of your surroundings are just a few ways you can be mindful.
Reading Stories of Inspiration
Sometimes, stories of people getting past rejection can make you fear it less. For example, some of the most famous artists are people who were rejected many times. Do you think your favorite band got famous on their first try? No. It took many record labels and many attempts before they hit it big. You’re the same way.
The fear of rejection is nothing to be ashamed of. We all have it to a degree, even those who seem to be fully confident. It’s how you handle those fears that’s important. By being mindful and ready to take the fears on, you can succeed. Also, seeking help from a professional can get you back on track to achieving your dreams.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.