Fear of rejection – then get a strategy
Do you remember when you were young, still at school and gallantly trying to work out your place in the scheme of things. Suddenly, there across the proverbial crowded room or more likely the busy playground – something or someone stirred your adolescent heart.
Your eyes met for the briefest of moments, you may have even exchanged the merest trace of a smile – and then – c’mon, quickly, I want to hear the rest – and then, nothing. You blew it at the vital moment and learned the stark reality of what happens when you embrace the fear of rejection.
You desperately wanted to say something, but the words would not come, because you thought the object of your affections would find you boring, ugly or stupid. It’s not my job to be negative so you have a go – I am sure you can find plenty of words to put yourself down – that’s what fear of rejection can do for your self-esteem.
Most of us overcome these early adolescent fears, put them down to childhood experience and move on with their lives. They quickly realise that the person they most wanted to talk to when they were young was equally nervous and worried about rejection. It’s an essential part of growing up into a balanced adult.
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But for some the fear of rejection never goes away. It seeps into their lives affecting relationships and employment opportunities. They will never put forward an original idea, ask for help or try to pursue a relationship.
Fear of rejection is so engrained they believe they are unworthy or will be laughed at or ridiculed, so humiliated that they will never be able to face the world again – so they withdraw into themselves, become more introverted and isolated – never offering an opinion and never contributing to a conversation.
In time the few friends they have will gradually drift away and the downward spiral continues, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Interestingly, those that fear rejection the most are usually the most intelligent, can solve problems quickly and easily and given the right platform can be incredibly entertaining.
The trouble is – they think too much – quickly work out a worst case scenario when dealing with others, assume that this will actually happen and then decide that is probably not worth the risk. To cover up their reticence they may contribute something totally irrelevant into a conversation which causes some mild amusement – further confirming everything they thought would happen.
It is difficult to introduce positive thinking into your life when you are so used to worrying about rejection, but not impossible, but first you need to know what rejection really means and get it into some sort of perspective or context. If you really feel that others will not accept you due to feelings of low self-worth, then you – with help from positive thinking - can do something about it. Please check out my blogs on low self-esteem where I go into more detail.
Low self-esteem aside, fear of rejection is really about fear of taking a risk and if it all goes wrong from time to time it is not always all about you. “But, if I ask that person out on a date and they say no I will be devastated.” Yes, you will be upset, but why assume that you were unworthy when there could just as easily have been many other good reasons for that refusal.
Think about it for a while. That person might not be ready for any kind of relationship right now, they might be committed to someone else, they could be equally fearful of becoming involved – it is not always about you.
Could be that you are worried about contributing ideas in a business context, afraid that others will think you are stupid. It’s an understandable fear but once again, it’s not about you – you must separate yourself from fear of rejection and adopt instead a positive thinking strategy – it goes something like this.
If fear of rejection is such a worry then build in what I call “a get out of jail free card.” It is a full back up situation should you feel the worst has happened. In a business situation it can work something like this.
When you put forward your idea preface it with words such as: “I might be wrong” or “I am not sure I fully understand this” or “this might sound like nonsense” – then you put in your idea as a question such as “what do you think about this?”
It’s really just common sense but it has enabled you to get into the game and do you know what – the best ideas sound stupid at the time but frequently act as a catalyst for something else to evolve – you would have made that happen.
Use your get out of jail free card in relationships. It doesn’t have to be the direct will you come out with me statement. Preface any approach so that if rejection happens then no one need be upset or offended and you have to realise that once again - it’s not about you.
If you are thinking that you have already tried these things you then have to use positive thinking to accept that rejection is part of life from time to time and learn to respect the decisions of others. Then you can allow yourself to be upset, but do not let it stop you getting back into the game – everyone gets rejected from time to time – just ask any aspiring actor or dancer.
It's natural to feel a little hurt after getting rejected, but it's important that you don't let yourself become afraid of rejection in the future or it will continue to blight your life for ever. So start that strategy now and you will see that people do not think you are worthless or stupid – they see you for who you really are – a very unique person – and a brave one as well.