Most people face all different kinds of rejection in their lifetime. It’s a natural part of life. But it can lead to a very common fear. The mere thought of putting ourselves out there can seem daunting. ‘What will people think? What if they don’t like me?’ If these thoughts have crossed your mind more than you’d like, you may be suffering from a fear of rejection.
If our efforts are not reciprocated or do not result in the intended outcome, this can cause us to avoid situations that may involve rejection altogether. Something that begins as a very normal worry can develop into anxiety or panic. This can prevent people from pursuing things they really want or even need to progress. If you are human, you are probably at least a little bit scared of rejection but it’s only an issue if you let your fear of rejection outweigh your desire to do something you love.
What are you afraid of?
It may be useful to think about why you have the worries you have about rejection. All fears start somewhere. Perhaps it might help to ask yourself where this fear came from. You may discover that your fear is smaller than you think. It could be related to a specific type of rejection, for example, fear of failure in your relationships. Understanding what you are afraid of and why is a crucial step in being able to overcome the fear of rejection.
Our thoughts can play a big role in how we feel. Whenever you want to do something and get a negative thought or become overwhelmed with doubt or fear – try to challenge your thinking. It’s perfectly normal to experience negative thoughts from time to time. However, it can be really useful to stop and observe those thoughts.
Challenge yourself like you would challenge a friend who was thinking this way. Getselfhelp.co.uk has a really helpful resource on thought challenging called ‘alternative or realistic thought‘. So, if you get a negative thought such as ‘I’m going to embarrass myself in the presentation and everyone will laugh at me’, you can challenge it with an objective thought. Ask yourself, is this fact or opinion? What is an alternative way of looking at this? What advice would I give a friend who was feeling like this?
Everyone lets their minds get the best of them from time to time. If you think about something long enough, it will likely feel as though it is true. This isn’t to say that your thoughts are not true but when you have negative thoughts, overthinking can make them seem bigger or worse than they actually are. Worrying about rejection can lead to overthinking. A good way to challenge our overthinking is through being mindful.
According to Mind.org, mindfulness is a ‘technique you can learn which involves making a special effort to notice what’s happening in the present moment (in your mind, body and surroundings) – without judging anything’. It’s important to practice mindfulness as often as possible. Staying in the present moment prevents us from worrying about the future or past. You can find more information about mindfulness and how to stay mindful on our blog here.
Just do it
A useful way to overcome the fear of rejection is to be… rejected! It may seem strange because most people assume that facing their fears will reinforce what they already feel. However, one of the best ways to overcome the fear of rejection is to just simply put yourself out there. Whatever it is you want to do, just do it. Overcoming a fear usually means you need to face up to that thing, as many times as you need to, to get over it.
Each time you do public speaking or share your artwork with the world – you become increasingly desensitized to the fact that people will judge you. They may make negative judgements, but they could make positive judgements too. In fact, most people will probably forget soon after because when we are anxious about something we usually overestimate its importance, in our minds and everyone else’s.
Play the rejection game
This may seem strange, but, if you’ve tried the last tip, you may find it effective to play this game. A 30-day challenge where you try to get rejected as much as possible. If you are really brave, Jia Jang did an entire TEDTalk on his attempt at 100-days of rejection.
You can use this time to really put yourself out there. Start off small – you can apply for a job that you believe you are under-qualified for, you can ask someone for a tiny favour that you think they may say no to. This might seem silly at first but the goal is to get used to hearing the word ‘no’.
What can you learn?
The last but certainly not least important trick to overcoming any fear is thinking about what you can learn from the situation. You’ve thought about all the steps you would take to overcome your fear and maybe you’ve even made an attempt. That is great but to gain confidence it’s important to reflect on the positive things you have learnt.
Perhaps, it wasn’t as scary as you imagined. This can help you to realise that even though the idea of facing rejection or not receiving the intended outcome can seem daunting, it’s just a part of life that everyone faces. The more you put yourself out there, the more your confidence grows and the less afraid of rejection you become.
Rejection is a part of life that cannot be avoided. However, if you take the time to apply these tips, you can start to see a significant improvement in your relationship with rejection! Try your best to think carefully about the cause of your fears, challenge your negative thoughts and take actionable steps towards making a positive change. Start off small and over time you will likely see a huge difference in the way you perceive rejection.
If you are feeling crippled by your fear of rejection, Ceed is here to support your personal development. We are on a mission to help every individual reach their full potential.
You can find a full list of our services here.