What do we do when a Fear of Rejection stops us from moving forward and achieving? When we have a fear of rejection it can prevent us applying for jobs, asking for a pay-rise, sharing information about our work, promoting ourselves, giving an opinion …. the list is endless.
Then you can go on to consider the wider areas of your life that might be affected by a fear of rejection. It might affect all types of relationships, from dating to marriage, to business dealings, networking, meeting new people.
Although not every person experiences every impact, the fear of rejection tends to affect our ability to succeed in a wide range of personal and professional situations.
Understanding The Fear of Rejection
There are parts of our brain that are hardwired when we’re born. So that we instinctively know certain things we need to do. A bit like when turtles break out of their shells on the beach, all alone, they instinctively know to head for the sea. They’re hard-wired to do that in their teeny little brains. We have wiring like that too.
Some of our hard-wiring means we respond in ways that are designed to keep us safe – to keep us alive. Just like the turtles.
So, we’re hardwired to respond to fear. I always explain that our fear response is like an internal fire alarm going off in our head (it’s called the amygdala). When that fire alarm goes off we respond in ways that we have been pre-programmed to do.
The fear of rejection is because in tribal times we needed to stay within our tribe. Being rejected from that tribe means that we were cast out to fend for ourselves. That meant danger. No safety of a group. It’s no wonder we instinctively fear rejection.
But all is not lost. If your fear of rejection is stopping you from doing the things you want to do, if it’s holding you back from dreams or desire then it’s time to do something about it.
Check Out the Root Cause
Although I’ve said we are hard-wired with fear, it doesn’t always have to surface. Sometimes we can identify the reason we have this fear of rejection. Did something happen when you were little? Is there a significant event or circumstance that you know about or that replays in your mind? Doesn’t matter if there is not, but if there is, that it’s time to reframe that. The thing is that sometimes our fear is coming from inside us, rather than from what we will receive or experience.
Keep Emotions Under Control
Fear is an instinctive response and then we react emotionally to that because we believe we are in a danger situation. Fear is always based on perception. That means that when we can learn to control our fear and keep our emotions under control we can cope with situations so much better. Then you can look at the situation more rationally.
Using a calming mechanism such as a breathing technique can be helpful in switching off the fear response.
It’s Not Personal
Often the more we practice something the better we are at handling it. Listen to the podcast to hear about how I had to get used to hearing no when I took a job in my 20’s and I had to push myself forward. Often when someone is offering their services or asking for something and there is a NO response it’s not personal. It just means that the service, offer or situation is not right for them at that time.
Think about when small children go up to each other in the playground. They haven’t yet learned about empathy and feelings. Will you play with me. No. and walk way. We’re cringing yet they’re not bothered.. We only get these worries and feelings because we’ve learnt about feelings! The people you’ve had criticise or hurt you or reject you, then the reality is that they’ve probably not go as much empathy as feeling as you.
How many times have you really experienced rejection? Really been rejected. Having had your feelings hurt with big criticism and hurtful things is true rejection. How many times have you interacted, met or associated with other people and it’s been fine? Quite a lot yes? So how many times have you been somewhere, talked to someone and it’s been OK? If you have then the rejection is not there is it?
If you’ve applied for a job, up against 5 other candidates they’re looking for the right fit for them, not the right fit for you! So only 1 out of 5 are going to get a yes. Recognising that other people are rejected too, keeps it in perspective. It becomes more of a normal situation in life rather than a threat.
Improve your Resilience
Bouncing back or being resilient is a learned response too! Build your awareness of the situation, by keeping a perspective and recognising it’s not personal are key to good resilience. Recognise too what’s going on inside your head. Are your thoughts directed to Oh that’s my fault or I’m not good? The more you work with this the better you’ll become. Being able to interpret things in a more pragmatic and rational way will mean you can bounce back more quickly.
It’s not so much about how you get knocked back, the focus needs to be on how quickly you recover. So if there’s a job or client that you really wanted, there no harm in feeling a little sad about it. Have a moan to your friend or partner, talk it through a little. Just don’t wallow in self pity and have it stop you moving forward.
Nowadays it’s very different way of surviving. So those no’s and rejections don’t have the power that our primitive brain think they have! Don’t let yourself get caught up in that fear of rejection. You can take action so that you no longer have to cope with the frustration of not getting where you want to be or not taking steps to get the outcomes you want.
Just because the fear is hard-wired from tribal days or caveman times, doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. After all, we no longer live in caves.