The fear of rejection is something most people experience at some point in their lives, but it can be crippling for some, and even inhibit them from maximizing their potential. Everyone’s inner “people pleaser” wants to be accepted by all, but it’s just not a realistic desire, so we all have to learn how to overcome fear of rejection.
I’ve had more than one experience in life that’s drastically stretched me out of my comfort zone. Going into adulthood, I wanted to choose an alternative career path than my parents, and I can remember the fear of rejection that I felt. I wanted their support of my desire to distinguish myself as an adult, but I wasn’t sure they would support it.
The fear could’ve left me acting in compliance to what I thought they would want, which would have left me feeling unfulfilled and lots of regret. Thank God, I chose to pursue my individuality, and I was able to rally my parents support. Unfortunately, I’ve seen others live lives completely trapped by the paradigm of their fear of rejection, so I’ve written this article to help others break free.
Like my situation, the fear of rejection often creeps up on us when we’re trying something new. These are a few situations where people tend to feel a fear of rejection:
Starting a New Business
Often times, when you start a new business, it’s an expression of your creativity, but it can also be more. A business can be a very deep personal connection.
Some people see their business as a way out of a miserable situation (like an unpleasant job or relationship), a method for financial independence, an expression of their legacy, or a vehicle bigger than themselves to impact others. Since a business can have so many deep meanings, we want it to be accepted by others in the same light we see it, but it’s not likely to happen that way.
Others don’t usually have the same optimism in business as we do. We see this beautiful vehicle for change and opportunity while others may look at us like fools.
If you find yourself fantacisizing about starting a business but crippled by the thought of what others would think or say, you could be trapped by the fear of rejection.
Similarly, when you’re selling–whether in your own business or in someone else’s business–some people will say “yes” and others will say “no”. The “no’s” get to us.
We see the “yes’s” as a means to our goals, but often times, we can’t see the “no’s” as any more than rejection. Sometimes, the idea of a “no” can be so crippling that we don’t present our offers, we don’t sell, and we don’t make money.
If you know selling would help you achieve goals you have, but you keep making excuses about why you’re not doing it, you could be experiencing paralysis analysis from the fear of rejection.
When you express a dating interest in another person, it’s a vulnerable time. You’re exposing attraction of some sort, and most people want the other person to reciprocate the dating interest.
Unfortunately, we each have standards laid out of when we want to date, why we want to date, and who we want to date, and sometimes, to people’s standards don’t match up. If you desire partnership in life, but you’re finding yourself procrastinating about asking someone on a date, fear of rejection may be something you may want to learn to solve.
Often times, when relocating, you leave behind a support system, people you’ve come to rely on, and you’re required to completely change. I remember relocating to join the military or deploying. It was strange because both times, I didn’t have continuity.
I didn’t have anyone from my hometown that I knew in Texas when I left for BMT. Then, when I left for Iraq, I didn’t know anyone I left with, so it was uncomfortable to consider going into a war zone with a group of people I didn’t know.
My relocation experiences grew me so much. My character has benefitted because I’ve learned more resilience than I knew before.
If you’re thinking that relocating can benefit you professionally or personally, but you’re questioning yourself alot, you’ll definitely want to follow along in this article to learn more on the fear of rejection.
Meeting new People
There’s so many people that walk around acting like they don’t see people passing them by. For a long time, I’d take it personal when someone would walk past me without greeting until I learned that many people don’t greet because of fear of rejection.
Many people can’t fathom the idea that they may say “hello” and the recipient may still walk past them, so they choose to walk around without greeting anyone. For me, I’ve chosen to take the chance, to greet others even if they don’t respond to me, but if you are one of the people who doesn’t want to speak because you’re worried that others won’t speak back, you may be dealing with the fear of rejection.
Whether it’s retiring from a job, going to a church, or starting a business, our peers definitely have alot of power in most people’s lives. We all want to pursue a path that others encourage, but sometimes, peer pressure could negatively effect you.
If you’ve identified decisions that could inhibit you from achieving your destiny, but you have peers who are telling you to do them anyway, you may either disappoint them, or disappoint yourself. If you’re pondering making a decision you feel instinctively is wrong to so you don’t disappoint someone else, you may need to learn how to overcome fear of rejection.
Holding Loved Ones Accountable
Holding loved ones accountable is hard. Sometimes, when we hold our loved ones accountable, we have to remind them of goals they may want to abandon, we may have to challenge them to do things they may not be convinced they can do, or we may have to identify a behavior that they might want to “sweep under the rug”, and we may cause friction in the relationship for taking a stance.
It’s never good to be a people pleaser all the time. Sometimes, we have to make a clear stance in order to help steer our loved ones towards good decisions, however, if you find yourself struggling to make a clear stance with your child, spouse, or other loved one, maybe you may need to learn how to overcome fear of rejection.
Behaviors that Result from a Fear of Rejection
If you’re dealing with fear of rejection, you typically behave unnaturally, and these are some of the common results…
Often times, if you don’t know how to overcome fear of rejection, you lack authenticity. You don’t want others to be disappointed, so you try to silence the opinion you have and smile, nod, and act compliant. It’s like wearing a mask. Internally, you want to say “no”, but externally, you’re saying “yes”, or vice versa. No one can get a real pulse on your real feelings when you mask them, stuff them, or camouflage to your surroundings.
Sometimes, being phony can get so frustrating that you might start blurting passive aggressive statements or behaviors because you’re angry about being silent. You might “forget” to answer the phone or “mistakenly” behave a certain way, rather than being open and honest about your feelings and intentions.
Taking care of others (especially loved ones) is natural. You don’t want to see people you love disadvantaged or hurt, but people pleasers often have a difficult time balancing their yes’s and no’s. You may struggle with boundaries so much that you keep saying “yes” even at the risk of paralyzing your own success.
When you don’t stand up for yourself or keep promises to yourself, it takes a negative toll on your confidence. It’s like giving others permission to ignore and devalue your voice.
As a result of stuffing your voice, you feel unheard, unappreciated, your self-worth and esteem goes down, and low confidence can have a negative impact on many areas in your life.
Since you’re scared you’ll be rejected when you’re straightforward and honest, you may try to stage outcomes undercover rather than being open and honest. If it’s a business situation, you may try to portray that you were “forced” into investing or manipulate events in favor of your decision to start a business.
Avoidance or Non-assertiveness
Maybe you want to pursue a career path, but you avoid taking college courses towards that path because you know your parents would want you to pursue a different path. Maybe you want to speak up about something that’s really bothering you, but you avoid discussing the topic because you’re afraid it could be a splinter in your relationship. Avoidance or nonassertiveness could be another way to mask a fear of rejection.
When you’re not authentic and expressing your true opinions, it leads to frustration. You’re frustrated about being phony, wearing a mask, or manipulating things. However, if you’ve personified the fear, and you want to avoid rejection, often times you’ll bear with the frustration until it’s too uncomfortable.
I’m not usually a law of attraction proponent, but in some cases, the things we obsess over become the results we attract: rejection is included. Some examples could be…
- Someone finds out about the business you’ve tried to hide, and tells you their opinion anyway
- The girl you can’t stop staring at assumes you’re interested and decides to tell you she’s uninterested before you ask
- or, the loved one you’ve tried to comply with tells you “I know you won’t like my decision, but I’m making it anyway”.
Sometimes, the rejection we’re running away from comes to us anyway.
Steps for How To Overcome Fear of Rejection
1. Quantify the Risk
Sometimes, it helps to quantify the risks. For example, if you died today and you never started the business of your dreams, could you be happy with your life? If you stayed single for the rest of your life because you were too afraid to express interest to anyone, would you experience regret?
Every decision we make has consequences. Sometimes, it’s helpful to quantify the consequences we’d experience and confirm whether or not we prefer to experience the regret or the rejection. While rejection is a risk, regret is sometimes the greater and less appetizing consequence to live with.
2. Don’t Take All Rejection Personal
Earlier, I told you that some people don’t greet because they fear rejection. Sometimes, when I greet, people don’t respond, and I’ll never understand why. Some people that ignore me may have prejudices, some may have hearing problems, and others can be so consumed by anger and discontentment that they cannot separate themselves long enough to greet someone who acknowledges them.
Do you see the common thread with how I’ve interpreted people who ignore me?
Rejection does not have to be personal. It doesn’t have to relate to whether you are good at something or bad at something. You can be rejected regardless of how you look, how many people are your fans, how much power you have, or how much money you have. Rejection can happen to anyone, so don’t take all rejection personal.
Sometimes, people will reject you because of something you’ve done or a unique trait of yours, but this is rarely the case, therefore, when someone rejects you, approach it as their downfall first.
3. Realize Rejection is a Milestone towards Certain Areas of Growth
For some journeys, you’ll have to experience quite a bit of rejection before growth. For example, as a salesperson, they typically have to do their presentation several times for practice. Often, on their journey to being good at their trade, they experience lots of rejection, but those who persist, are able to see paychecks far beyond what most jobs can give.
4. Know “No’s” are a Necessary Before a “Yes”
Some of the world’s most notable entrepreneurs and leaders have experience lots of rejection before reaching their success. Entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, J.K. Rowling, Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffet, Barbara Corcoran, Jeff Bezos, and Sally Crawcheck have stories of rejection that proceeded their “breakthroughs”. Often times, “No’s” are essential parts that prepare the way for a “yes”.
5. Maintain Positive Self-Talk
All along, while others are saying, “no” or even very mean things like “I think you’ll fail”, you have to be able to combat external doubt with positive self talk. Instead of complying with rejection, you say, “I believe in myself” or “I believe what I’m aiming for will work”. If no one else believes in us, we still have to commit to ourselves.
6. Be Willing to Prune Your Social Circle
At times, the social circle could be the problem. If you find yourself dreaming and instinctively feeling the need to make decisions, but you’re experiencing lots of discouragement and doubt from your social circle, sometimes, you may need to cut people off, strengthen relationship boundaries, or displace yourself for a period of time.
It’s not good to be around too much doubt and negativity. In his interview with Omar Ellatar, Ed Mylett said he intentionally tries to stay in social circles where he’s the furthest behind. Rather than being the leader, or the one everyone is looking to for positive motivation, sometimes, it’s good to have mentors and people who can uplift you also.
You can check out that interview here:
7. Commit to Your Destiny even in the Face of Rejection
The bottom line in life is your life was given to you for a purpose. Your purpose is not to please everybody, but to please your Maker.
In your pursuit to accomplish your purpose, you may experience jealousy, envy, disgust, and disdain, but you have to keep your focus on fulfilling your purpose, and allow those who are frustrated by your pursuit to deal with their feelings on their own.
8. Be Persistent
Don’t give up. Rejection can be hurtful, sad, and disorienting, but persist towards living an impactful, purpose-driven life.
Final Words on How To Overcome Fear of Rejection
The goal of this article was to show you how to overcome fear of rejection. Rejection is something most people have to deal with several times in life, and learning to overcome the fear can be very liberating.
If you have questions or concerns about this, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section. I’d love to help you out! If you’d like to grow a business, check out my free e-course. It’s a framework to grow a business: from idea to enterprise. Check out my free e-course here.
Now, it’s Your Turn…
Have you overcome fear of rejection before? What did you do? Have you noticed an area where you’re paralyzed by rejection? What do you think you’ll do about it now?