How To Overcome The Fear Of Rejection And Improve Your Self-Esteem
Feeling rejected hurts. It undermines your confidence and makes you doubt your worth. And whether you’ve experienced it a lot or it has only happened once or twice in your life, it can easily lead to deep anxiety about future rejection. Trapped by a horrible feeling of worthlessness, you might let your fear of rejection stop you from even trying to achieve your dreams. This in itself makes you feel worse about yourself, creating a vicious cycle of fear and low self-esteem. Sometimes, you probably feel like you’ve tried everything to feel better and just don’t seem to be improving.
However, it is possible to overcome the fear of rejection and develop a healthier level of self-confidence. Whether you’re dealing with a fear of rejection in relationships, in your career, in your friendships or simply in every part of your life, there are techniques you can use to move forward.
Circumstances Where You May Be Feeling Rejected By Everyone
There are many different contexts in which you might feel rejected by everyone. Each comes with unique challenges and emotional wounds, and you’ll find that thinking about your own particular experiences of rejection can help you better understand what you need to do to heal.
Here are three of the most common circumstances that foster fear of rejection:
At work, you might feel rejected for professional or social reasons.
Perhaps you feel you’re often passed over promotion, or not asked to take on exciting new responsibilities. Alternatively, maybe you struggle to fit in with your colleagues and feel they don’t like you or don’t invite you to spend time with them.
You might feel rejected at the start of friendships when it seems like you’re keener than the other person. On the other hand, perhaps long-term friendships are making you feel low. Maybe you feel like your friends use you for favors, taking advantage without reciprocity. Or maybe you feel pushed out or ignored when you get together in groups.
Dealing with romantic rejection is notoriously tough. Whether you struggle with how to deal with rejection from a woman or how to deal with rejection from a guy, the feelings of pain and shame are the same. You may feel undesirable, uninteresting and pessimistic about the prospect of finding love.
What is the Psychology Behind “Feeling Rejected”? Fear of Rejection Symptoms to Look Out For
In order to overcome the fear of rejection, you need to recognize not only your triggers but also a fear of rejection phobia actually manifests in you. Once you can see this, you can develop a clearer action plan for building self-esteem.
Here are the major fear of rejection symptoms identified by psychologists:
- When you feel rejected, you think about how other people see you (and assume they see you negatively).
- Rejection makes you believe you can’t really achieve your dreams.
- Anytime you feel rejected, you think about how you must not seem interesting or worthwhile to other people.
- The rejection leaves you thinking that you aren’t intelligent, talented or capable.
- Being rejected leads you to imagine how disappointing you are to people you care about.
- You work hard to make people have low expectations of you so that they won’t expect you to succeed.
- Experiences of rejection make you believe that there’s nothing you could have done to create a better outcome.
- When you’re going to do something that might lead to rejection, physical symptoms of anxiety (e.g. stomach pains and tension headaches) sometimes stop you from doing that thing.
- If it’s possible you will end up feeling rejected, you find other things tasks to do that will help you avoid the risk.
- You find excuses to remove yourself from circumstances where you might feel rejected, telling yourself you have no other choice.
How to Handle Rejection: Improve Your Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence
Now that you have a better understanding of what your fear of rejection looks like, you’re ready to beat it.
Working out how to handle rejection and how to improve self-esteem are gradual processes that are subtly different for everyone. However, whether you’re looking to learn how to deal with rejection from friends, how to deal with rejection in love or how to handle rejection from a job, the key steps are the same.
Step 1: Reject the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
When you hold on to the false assumption that others will always reject you, you create situations where rejection occurs. Unconsciously, you’ll send out signals that push people away and make your fears into reality. Then, you’ll use the next rejection as evidence that you’ll always experience rejection!
Start battling this self-fulfilling prophecy by deliberately looking for signs of acceptance – write them down if it helps.
Step 2: Focus On How You Want to Be
Are you phrasing your goals in terms of what you don’t want? For example, when dealing with rejection at work, are you thinking “I don’t want to be rejected”?
You’ll be much more successful if you flip your goal into a positive. For example, make it “I want to make friends at work” or “I want to get a promotion by next year.”
Step 3: Construct a Narrative
When learning how to improve self-confidence, it’s important to know where the lack thereof began. Who taught you to fear rejection? Where did you receive messages suggesting you lack value?
These limiting beliefs often come from things that happened when you were very young. Once you make them concrete, you can challenge them, and they start to lose their power.
Step 4: Tap Into Your Imagination
Overcoming the fear of rejection takes creative use of the imagination.
Every day, make time to visualize yourself acting confidently in situations that generally make you feel insecure. Imagine yourself not only surviving but thriving, unworried by the idea of rejection. In time, this visualization habit can help to reshape your thoughts and expectations.
Step 5: Embrace Not Knowing
Feeling rejected often leads to feeling certain that you will be rejected again. As noted above, this creates an unending vicious cycle.
Start to question yourself when you make assumptions about whether you will do well at something or whether someone will like you. Accept that all possibilities are open – good and not so good – and tell yourself that you’re capable of handling both.
Step 6: Remember You Will Survive
Getting over rejection also requires that you learn to see it differently. No particular rejection is the end of the world for you. You can survive the end of a relationship, or a job that doesn’t work out, or a friendship that no longer fits.
When you catch yourself fretting over a “What if?” question, challenge yourself to imagine how you would overcome the scenario and find happiness again.
Step 7: Redefine the Meaning of Rejection
Finally, remember that all your favorite musicians, novelists, and artists have been rejected at some point. When you get rejected, you probably assume it means something awful about you. But how do you feel about others who have experienced rejection?
Try to see that experiencing rejection isn’t the same as being unlovable, worthless or destined to be alone forever. In other words, rejection doesn’t have to carry that much weight – not if you don’t let it.
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