Scared of Rejection?
Are you scared of rejection and want to overcome this fear? Read more to understand the psychology of rejection, effective ways of handling it and what you can do to overcome it.
The first step is to really be clear about what is going on inside of you. The fear of rejection often triggers intense emotional reactions, and these feelings can be so overwhelming that we fail to analyze what’s behind it. Neuroscientists now know that a certain part of our brain – the anterior cingulated cortex – lights up when we feel the pain of rejection, which means we process the pain of rejection the exact same way that we also process physical pain. ((Eisenberg, N. I., & Lieberman, M. D. (2004). Why rejection hurts: A common neural alarm system for physical and social pain. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 8(7), 294-300.))
Oftentimes, you’re scared of rejection because it would make you feel inadequate or unworthy. Every man, no matter what he has achieved in his life, has doubts about his own abilities, feels insecure about his worth in some areas of his life. And the same is true for women. After all, we are tribal creatures, social beings.
Now before we can even get rejected, we have to take a small leap of faith: we have to make some kind of offer or proposal to someone else. And if that other person doesn’t think that our proposal is good enough, it can be really tough on our self-esteem. Especially if what we offer is something as personal and intimate as our love.
But it’s not just romantic rejection, the same is true for professional rejection. If for example you work in sales, the one thing that you will probably experience most often is rejection. And if you want to be successful, you can not let that hold you back.
Rejection is an issue that we can face in all areas of our lives. With our lovers, with business associates, with our kids, with colleagues, with prospective employers, with friends, with family, and so on. But the nature of being afraid of rejection is always the same.
There are different ways to overcome this. You can do it the hard way, bootcamp style. You can force yourself to approach so many people with some kind of offer or proposal and just let them reject you again and again that you develop a thick skin. Psychologists call this method desensitization. This can work in many cases, but it’s also a very difficult way – quite honestly, a little more difficult and tiring than it needs to be.
Ultimately, your fear of rejection reaches deep down into your psyche. And it is often connected to very early and intense experiences of rejection, which happened during our childhood. Sometimes we may consciously remember these experiences, sometimes not. It’s not really that important whether we do or don’t.
However, what is important is that we can detach rejection from these intense emotions. These emotions come from a different area of our brain, which is called the amygdala. The amygdala is part of the limbic system, and it is a very rudimentary brain area that is important to our survival, because through the help of emotions like fear, or anger, it can provide us with energy that we need when our lives are in danger.
But rejection isn’t really a threat to our lives. It’s not like we have to run away from a tiger, or fight an enemy in a battle to death. In order to deal with rejection most effectively, we should be able to remain calm and have a clear mind. With the help of hypnosis, you can overcome the intense feelings that make you so scared of rejection and be confident even if someone rejects you.
There are so many areas of life where this can play a role. For example, if you’re not being invited to a party, or if you want to participate in an event or activity, it can happen that you’re feeling frightened of rejection.
One of the earliest common experiences for many people in this arena happens in school: it’s when players get picked for a sports team. The good players get picked first, and then there are those that stand there when everyone else is already on some team – they are the people that nobody wants to be with.
Has a person you love ever told you: “Let’s just be friends”? That’s painful because it’s a rejection. It’s a nicely packaged rejection, but it still hits you with full force. In fact, as one researcher on the subject of rejection wrote ((H. E. Fisher, L. L. Brown, A. Aron, G. Strong, D. Mashek. Reward, Addiction and Emotion Regulation Systems Associated with Rejection in Love. Journal of Neurophysiology, 2010; DOI: 10.1152/jn.00784.2009)):
Romantic rejection causes a profound sense of loss and negative affect. It It can induce clinical depression and in extreme cases lead to suicide and/or homicide.
[…] Activation of areas involved incocaine addiction may help explain the obsessive behaviors associated with rejection in love.
And most people have had their fair share of rejections when applying for a job.
In fact, rejection gets deep into our brains. Scientists were able to show that even such a trivial thing as a Facebook friend request gets rejected there is a strong emotional reaction happening in the brain.
Studies ((Bregtje Gunther Moor, Eveline A. Crone, Maurits W. van der Molen. The Heartbrake of Social Rejection: Heart Rate Deceleration in Response to Unexpected Peer Rejection. Psychological Science, 2010; DOI:10.1177/0956797610379236)) have shown that rejection actually causes physiological changes in your body.
Common advice on how to handle reaction often goes like this:
“Don’t take it personally.”
But how are you supposed to take it? How to learn to be unafraid of rejection? How to force yourself to fight fear against rejection?
When you’re terrified or rejection, you can miss out on so many good things in life. That’s why it’s so important to get over this fear.
I love the inspirational power of stories, so here is a true “rejection to success” story:
Every College Rejected Him, But He Made It To The NFL
Bo Eason wanted to become a professional football player since he was nine years old. But he didn’t seem to have the physique or strength or speed that was required to achieve that goal. By the age of 19 he wanted to go play college football. But not a single college wanted him. In fact, he applied to every single college in the USA where they play football, and nobody wanted him. That’s more than 300 rejections!
Most people would have given up at this point. But Bo went to a college where they gave no scholarships to football players, it was open for everybody.
Bo was so excited – finally he got a football uniform, got out on the field and played with the other guys.
And at the end of that first day, the coach was waiting for him in the locker room, and he called Bo: “Mr. Eason, come here for a minute.”
And Bo Eason was so excited: the coach wanted to talk to him! He probably wanted to congratulate him on being such a good player!
But here’s what the coach said: “Mr. Eason, you’ll never play on our time. You are too small. You are too slow. You are too weak. We can’t afford to have people like you drag down our team. Give back your uniform and your locker key and don’t come back here.”
Now that was a hard blow.
And most people would have given up at that point. Most people would simply have given up on their dream.
But this story is a great lesson on how to deal with rejection.
Bo didn’t give up. In fact the next day he went back to the stadium and he talked one of the locker rooms guys into giving him an old football outfit to practice in.
The helmet was too big. The whole thing didn’t fit, and it wasn’t even the same color as the other players’ uniforms.
But he went on the field nonetheless. And he practiced by himself. Because the coach wouldn’t let him practice with the team.
Bo just practiced all by himself alone on the field. He watched what the guys on the team did, and he did the same thing, but in another area of the field, all by himself.
And he hoped he’d somehow earn the respect of the coach that way.
And one day the first game of the team approached.
And Bo hoped that the coach would let him play.
And he went to the locker room to get his uniform.
But there was no uniform.
So he went to the locker room guy and asked him: “Hey, Sid, where’s my uniform for the game?”
And Sid said: “Look kid, there’s no uniform for you today. We gave you that old uniform so you could make a fool out of yourself on the field during training. But this is a real game. You’re not on the team. You’re not gonna be playing anything today, and you’re not going to wear a football uniform today, and you’re not going to be on the field today.”
I mean, what are the chances that a guy would get rejected so many times? So much humiliation. And yet, Bo talked to the locker room guy until he gave him an uniform, but he wasn’t allowed to play on the field – he could only sit on the bench and watch the others play.
He finally managed to sneak into the game and really did earn the respect of the coach. He got on the team, and he became an NFL star.
And after playing professional football for 5 years, his body wasn’t able to do that anymore, because it’s a sport that wears you down quickly.
And then Bo wrote a screenplay. And he acted in it. And it became a huge success, and he became a professional screenwriter and trainer, and he now has an amazing life. But if you’ve looked at the first 20 years of his life, with all the rejection he’s been through, there was no way of foreseeing that.
But he didn’t let his fear of rejection hold him back – he kept going for his dreams and made them come true.
Ultimately you have to decide whether you want to live a small and timid life full of regrets and let fear of rejection limit yourself – or whether you want to life live fully.