One of the scariest things people anticipate is rejection, but getting over the fear of it will bring you one step closer to emotional maturity.
Aristotle once said, “Humans are social animals.” From the moment of our birth until the day we die, we will always long for the company of our fellow men. Our natural bonding behavior predisposes us to seek out and form new relationships, which could be as mundane as helping out a stranger we barely even know or something deeper like falling in love.
Considering that we love the company of other people, we would naturally want to belong and hate to be rejected. Rejection is being spurned or cut off from the association of others, or simply put, being “unwanted.” This is often one of a person’s greatest fears, and one would go to great lengths to avoid being rejected. This fear of rejection is one of the main driving forces that influence our social behavior, how we see ourselves, and how we form new relationships.
A life experience concerning rejection could make or break our perception of the issue. For instance, a person who got severely rejected could be traumatized and develop a sense of fear and insecurity towards rejection. Everybody fears rejection to some degree, but overly fearing rejection makes us adopt unhealthy behaviors in order to avoid it.
Why do people fear rejection?
To start off, let us explore some of the main reasons people would go to great lengths to avoid being rejected.
#1 People fear rejection because it feels unpleasant. Nobody wants to go through the embarrassment, the disappointment, and the self-questioning that happens after you get rejected. If you get rejected the first time, the first thing you ask is “why?” Is it your physical appearance? The manner of your dress? The way you talk? These are some of the questions that run inside your head when you get rejected.
#2 People fear rejection because it diminishes your self-worth. If you get rejected by someone, you tend to view yourself negatively. Getting rejected makes you think that you’re inadequate or unappealing to be associated with, in contrast to acceptance and approval, which boost our ego and confidence.
A fear of rejection can be gleaned from some of your overt behaviors, such as the following.
#1 People-pleasing behavior. Inasmuch as we tend to be careful to please the people around us, people who overly fear rejection tend to put up with a persona meant to please everyone, up to the point of putting their own welfare behind other people. This also includes the difficulty to say “no” to other people for fear of being rejected. [Read: 20 signs you’re too much of a people pleaser]
#2 Rigidity. As a result of developing people-pleasing behavior, the person often feels constrained by the persona, where their activities are patterned for the people around them, the inability to voice out a particular idea or stance to avoid dissenting others’ ideas, and extreme susceptibility to peer pressure.
#3 Vulnerability to manipulation. People who fear rejection lose their assertiveness and their ability to stand up for themselves, making them fully dependent on a dominant peer figure. This makes them easily manipulated or used by the people whom they wish not to be rejected by.
Tips for overcoming the fear of rejection
It is important to note that everyone fears rejection to some degree. It is when you develop an excessive fear that it will start to harm your relationships and self-perception. These tips can help you overcome these fears, in order to foster healthier relationships with others.
#1 The “fear” is merely a state of mind. If you think about it, almost all people have experienced rejection at some point in their lives, yet they’re still very much alive and functioning. And surely you personally have rejected people too. It just happens.
If you give this a little thought, it is the fear itself and not the rejection that makes you vulnerable. If you lose the irrational “fear,” you will see rejection as something that’s a normal part of social interaction, thus helping you avoid the effects associated with these fears.
#2 Rejection is a part of daily life. Remember the saying: “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.” In the same manner, rejection will not kill you. You’ve been and will be rejected in the future, and you will still be here, alive and functioning.
#3 Rejection teaches life lessons. People will normally think that rejection is all bad, with all the grief it causes. Most people fail to realize that rejection can be a personal learning experience. With a little optimism and open-mindedness, you can see that rejection is a way of people saying “no” and a sign for you to learn when to stop. All it takes is for you to learn from the experience, so that when the time comes when you’ll be confronted with a similar situation, you will be ready.
#4 You will never be truly alone. As stated, one of the reasons why people fear rejection is because they believe that they will be isolated and unwanted. That is absolutely untrue. If you get rejected by a person you like, you still have your friends, associates, and family. Keep in mind that the people who will accept you greatly outnumber the people who will reject you. It’s all a matter of perspective.
Everyone has that core group of friends, or a best friend to support you in case things go south. And if you notice, it is that inner circle of friends that will always be there to join you for a drink if you get dumped or rejected by someone you like.
#5 Rediscover and appreciate your individuality. Another reason why people get fazed by rejection is the idea that acceptance equals self-importance. People who fear rejection too much develop a people-pleasing attitude, which makes them agreeable to anything, even if they’re uncomfortable about it.
Remember that you are a unique individual, and that you know yourself better than anyone else. You should know better than to pattern your activities to suit everyone’s tastes. Time to flip the switch, and start doing the things you see fit for you, even if it leads to a few rejections.
#6 If someone rejects you, there are others out there who are worth your attention. Rejection is never more meaningful when it comes to romance, as it is more painful and distressing compared to other forms of rejection. As the common saying goes, there are a whole lot of people out there.
If someone rejected you, it’s not the end of the world. You don’t have to mope and vow you’ll never try dating again. And it doesn’t mean that you’re a despicable person who doesn’t deserve to be loved. Whoever rejected your advances may have had a good reason to do so, and it’s a cue for you to just accept it and move on.
#7 Rejection could make you a better person. If you get rejected, you either get discouraged and reclusive, or you could take it as a challenge to improve yourself. The key is to always stay positive and keep in mind that rejection is not equal to animosity towards you as a person.
If you get rejected in a job application, a sports try-out, or a talent audition, it tells you to stop, backtrack, and improve whatever craft or skill you have. If you think you’ve improved, then try again, stronger and more confident this time. [Read: 7 powerful ways to combat and break out of loneliness]
Rejection is a normal part of our social life. You will be rejected every now and then. Be if from a clique, a job interview, a credit card application, or from a romantic interest, you will experience rejection.
Though painful and unpleasant at first, the “fear” associated with rejection is merely a state of mind. It should never define who we are or dictate how we would bear ourselves in this cruel, snobbish world.
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Paul Timothy Mangay
Paul aka Morty is a keyboard-pounding cubicle-dweller based in Manila where he occasionally moonlights as a writer for anyone in need of his mediocre word-strin...