Handling Fear of Rejection

We humans are social beings who are wired for connection. Due to our innate need to belong, experiences of rejection can be deeply impactful. Many of us will hold ourselves back or hide parts of ourselves to avoid the risk of rejection, limiting ourselves from living the lives we desire.  Here are some suggestions with resources to help you move through the fear of rejection:

  • Self-Acceptance is very important when it comes to overcoming the fear of rejection. Emotions expert Brené Brown puts it beautifully, “Because we can feel belonging only if we have the courage to share our most authentic selves with people, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” Click here for a guide on self-acceptance.
  • Self-Validation, which goes together with self-acceptance, can be necessary for overcoming this fear. Constantly seeking approval from others feeds this fear of rejection. When you believe in yourself and your own choices, you may find that you aren’t as affected by the disagreement or disapproval of others. Click here for a guide on cultivating self-validation and approval.
  • Exposure to Rejection, as scary as it sounds, is one of the best ways to overcome the fear of rejection. Rejection exposure involves purposely acting in ways that invite rejection, like asking strangers to take a survey or going to the 10 items or less grocery lane with a lot more than 10 items. The idea is that practicing rejection makes you more comfortable with it. When you stop avoiding your anxiety, it loses its power. If you want more exposure ideas or need more proof that this can work, watch this TED talk.
  • Pre-Socialization Boosts can be helpful to shift your mindset into one that serves you before going into a social interaction that triggers your fear. This boost could be meditation, a walk outside, listening to songs that make you feel confident, or maybe some affirmations. Anything that allows you to release some nervous energy and invite in some self-love is helpful!
  • Rejection Reflection is a great idea to really dig into your rejection anxiety and see what’s beneath the surface. Marriage and family therapist Jonathan Decker offers some great reflection questions in his video on overcoming this fear:
  • In childhood, how were you not safe, accepted, or loved as you naturally are?
  • What coping mechanisms did you learn as you sought acceptance?
  • Are you willing and ready now to forgive yourself for coping mechanisms that you’ve outgrown?

The idea is to acknowledge the coping mechanisms that once kept you safe, but are no longer serving you now, and receive the truth of the reality that you want to create.

Understand that your fear of rejection is there to protect you. You have the power to acknowledge the fear without being overtaken by it. You can say, “Thanks for looking out for me, but I’ve got this. Even if I do get rejected, I’ll be able to handle it. I know my worth.”

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