Last week, I was out to travel to the northern areas of Pakistan for official reasons. Gilgit Baltistan and Chitral regions are known for its cultural and historical significance. I met many people; most of them were teachers. On my third day of the session, one candidate asked me a question that triggers a series of questions in my mind. He asked ‘Sir, If I do not fulfil this requirement in my application form, would I be rejected?’ I said, ‘Yes’. He replied, ‘Oh! Then I might not apply for that program, because I don’t want to be rejected’. Later on, that day, I thought about that guy and questioned myself, why do we fear of rejection? Rejection, either in relationships or in a career, is equally brutal for almost every person. Students fear of failure in exams, teachers fear the failure of their lesson plans, and parents fear of their children’s future decisions. We all scared of being rejected but what makes us fear of such rejections?
The fear of rejection is an irrational fear that makes people convinced that they would not be accepted or approved by other people due to their opinions, looks, personality, values, beliefs or behaviour. This fear of rejection not only makes people anxious about their decisions, but it also influences their daily choices and action. While under the impact of that fear people will do things that they would normally not do in their healthy lives. Sometimes we believe that we are good at something, and it may be true, but due to the fear of failure we back-off.
Most of the times, I witnessed such anxiety and stress in my students. Majority of them confess during their one-on-one sessions with me that they do not participate in certain classroom activities because they scared that everybody will be going to laugh at them. In short, they afraid of not being accepted by their classmates. Fearing of rejection often impacts teen’s social behaviour, where they incapable or merely unable to express their own opinions with their friends and most of the times they hold back their feelings and emotions because they fear that their friends might disapprove or disagree with them.
One of the impacts of that fear, which is common among teens, is that people will get afraid of being different, due to which they ended up copying how others talk, dress or act. Copying others minimises the feeling of rejection. Some people might argue that we do copy others all the times. However, there is a difference between modelling other’s behaviour out of inspiration or to adopt it as our own and to copy other’s behaviour out of fear of rejection.
The impact of such fear might be life long in the form of lack of self-confidence, integrity, and lack social skills. People with a fear of rejection often adopted the idea of being compared with others, and this constant comparison convinced them that they must imitate other people values and behaviours to be accepted into their world.
How to Overcome the Fear of Rejection
As a teacher, I always encourage my students to not to afraid of being rejected and always trust yourself. However, it does not seem that easy as it sounds. Therefore, to overcome the fear of rejection, one must first identify what, and to be specific why it is precisely he/she want. Take a piece of paper and start listing the top 10 reasons why you want a particular thing in your life that is forming fear in you. Ask yourself:
What do I want? Why is this important to me? How will I benefit? What will I miss out, if I do not act right now to overcome my fear of rejection?
The last question will help you to provide the necessary motivation that you need to overcome the fear of rejection. Following these questions, now list down your perspectives about the fear of rejection.
What type of rejection do, I fear? Whose rejection do I fear? Why? How do I behave when I fear rejection? How is this unhelpful? How is this hurting me?
These questions will help you to gather enough information about the anxiety you are having because of fear of rejection. Now, search for the alternatives, ask yourself:
How else could I approach this situation? How else could I think about this situation? How could this be helpful?
After finding alternatives make a plan, and list down all the challenges you might face while achieving your goals. Ask yourself:
What potential obstacles stand in my way? Are these obstacles real or imagined? How will I overcome these obstacles?
Majority of the times, the obstacle you think you might have faced while achieving your goals are primarily exists in your head because of the fear of rejection. Listing it down might help to recognise and to inform your mind consciously that you do not despair of rejection.
Fear of rejection is natural because we live in a diverse and pluralistic society where we meet with new people daily and hence start involve ourselves in an unnecessary competition or we can say unnecessary fear of rejection. Simply, trust yourself first because the more confidence you have in yourself, the more confidence others will have in you. Good luck 🙂