Why do we Fear Rejection? – Reasons and Remedies
Last week, I was out to travel to the northern areas of Pakistan for official reasons. Gilgit Baltistan and Chitral regions are known for their 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 triggered 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 that day, I thought about that guy and questioned myself, why do we fear rejection? Rejection, either in relationships or in a career, is equally brutal for almost every person. Students fear failure in exams, teachers fear the failure of their lesson plans, and parents fear their children’s future decisions. We are all scared of being rejected, but what makes us fear such rejections?
The Fear of Rejection is an irrational fear that makes people convinced that they would not be accepted or approved by others 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 accurate, but we back off due to the fear of failure.
Most of the time, I witnessed such anxiety and stress in my students. The majority of them confess during their one-on-one sessions with me that they do not participate in certain classroom activities because they are scared that everybody will laugh at them. In short, they are afraid of not being accepted by their classmates. Fearing rejection often impacts teens’ social behaviour, where they are incapable of merely being unable to express their own opinions with their friends. They often 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 end 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 time. However, there is a difference between modelling others’ behaviour out of inspiration and copy others’ behaviour out of fear of rejection.
The impact of such fear might be lifelong in the form of a lack of self-confidence, integrity, and lack of social skills. People with a fear of rejection often adopt the idea of being compared with others. This constant comparison convinced them to imitate others’ values and behaviours to be accepted.
How to Overcome the Fear of Rejection
As a teacher, I always encourage my students not to be afraid of being rejected and always trust themselves. However, it does not seem that easy as it sounds. Therefore, to overcome the fear of rejection, one must first identify what and why they want. Take a piece of paper and start listing the top 10 reasons 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 be benefited? What will I miss out on if I do not act right now to overcome my fear of rejection?
The last question will help you provide the necessary motivation 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 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?
The majority of the time, 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 recognise and 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 new people daily and involve ourselves in unnecessary competition, or we can say excessive 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 🙂