Fear of rejection can be very debilitating
Put a stop to fear of rejection
For instance, when you have a heightened fear of rejection and you say “no” to someone who asks you to do a favour and you don’t hear from them for a while. Your mind starts to panic and you start to berate yourself for saying “no”. You assume that this person hates you now and this leads to you thinking you’re a bad person. You don’t calm down until you hear from the person and find out that everything is OK.
All the anxiety in this situation is ‘self-driven’. The anxiety is driven from a belief that if you say “no’ to people they won’t like you any more and as a result you conclude that you ‘must’ be a bad person if when you say “no” you are not reinforced immediately for doing so.
Step 1: Becoming aware of your fear of rejection patterns
The first step in combating this unhelpful thinking style is to start to pay attention to all the times in your day when your mind starts racing to fill in the gaps. Do you:
assume something is wrong with you, if people look at you a certain way?
worry about what you’re going to wear, just case people see a potential flaw in your body, or think you might not be cool enough
avoid people who you think might ask a favour of you, out of fear of saying “no”?
say “no” to your child, only to give in later out of guilt for saying “no”?
fear whether others are going to like you if you have not heard from them in a while?
When you start paying attention to your emotional reactions, you will begin to see a pattern. In doing so you can pinpoint exactly what is going on. For example, do you have an underlying negative belief that is causing you to feel potential rejection? If so, there are many things you can do to eradicate this negative belief. For example, NLP therapy, which we use in our counselling sessions, is very useful to tap into your unconscious beliefs. Negative beliefs and replace them with more acceptable and reasonable and accurate beliefs.
Make a commitment to yourself to not engage is this destructive thinking style any more.
It will take time. It’s a long ingrained bad habit. However, the more you practice, the better you’ll become and the happier you will be!
Step 2: Challenging your fear of rejection
Have you ever been scared of what someone might say if you stood up for yourself? This fear is a very common one and stems from a fear of being rejected by the other person. When you find yourself in this position ask yourself – ‘what am I afraid of here?’.
For instance, let’s say you have a friend who is quite insecure. You love her, but you don’t want her to take on her negative baggage out on you all the time. Every time she says something that insinuates you’re not putting her first, or that you don’t have a right to feel the way you’d like you, you feel anxious and just give in to her demands.
Let’s say she’s been calling you for a few days and you’re avoiding returning the call because you don’t want the stress associated with talking to her. At this point, ask yourself that question. ‘What am I afraid of?’ In essence you are scared of her making another negative comment. But… what if you decided not to be scared any more. After all, she’s made these comments many times before and nothing bad happened. You’re avoiding her anyway. So why not tell yourself that she can feel however she wants. You’re not giving in to her demands and she is not someone warranted of fear. Words can only hurt if you allow them to.
Now if when you call she goes down the same track, you simply do not give ANY fuel to her comments. This is easier when you have been calm BEFORE making the return phone call. You have to retrain the friend to understand that you’re not going to pander to her insecurities any longer.
The fear of rejection you are feeling in this scenario is caused by a desire to make sure everyone likes you. If someone does not like you – you incorrectly believe you MUST be a bad person. However, this could not be further from the truth, because people’s reactions to things are a reflection of how THEY feel about THEMSELVES and often people project their insecurities on to others.
The key to reducing fear of rejection is to ask yourself whether your response is reasonable. In the above example, it is reasonable for you to ask your friend to stop using you as a emotional punching bag. Your friend is not going to like it at first because she has become accustomed to you taking her punches. However, if you value the friendship, the best thing you can do is calmly (in the moment of being spoken to negatively in an unfair manner) state that this is NOT the way you deserve to be treated and you are more than happy to support your friend when she can speak to you in a respectful manner.
If you highlight that you’re not going anywhere, but there have to be boundaries in the friendship, then you have a much higher chance of coming to a peaceful and respectful outcome, which will only enhance the relationship into the future and will stop you feeding your potential fear of rejection.
Take home message
Fear of being rejected is a very common fear that stops you from living a happy and fulfilling life. You owe it yourself to become aware of when this fear is impacting on your life and then challenging this fear to stop it from impacting on the decisions you make day to day. If you’re suffering from low self esteem you can download our free self esteem building guide at Help For Mums. This will give you a great place to start. So make yourself a priority today.
Lizzie O’Halloran, Founder of Help For Mums and Author of Perfect Mum – How to Survive the Emotional Rollercoaster of Motherhood and Refresh Your Life – The revolutionary motivational weight loss program