Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Fear of Rejection

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"I don't like you! I never want to see you again!"

"Get out of here, you don't belong here!"

"We are sorry, but you weren't selected to be on the team."

We have all experienced rejection throughout our lives. Why do we fear it? What makes it so difficult and what can we do about it?

Where does fear of rejection come from?

As young children, we learn quickly that a smiling face means that our parents are pleased with us and a frowning one means that we have done something wrong. We equate smiles with acceptance and love, and frowns with rejection, anger, fear, and hate. When our parents smile at us, we know that they love us, and that our needs will be met. When they frown, we know that they are not happy with us, they may even be angry, and that our needs most likely will not be met.

As we get older, we realize that these same principles apply in our relationships. When other people are pleased and happy with us, we feel love and acceptance. When we do something that they do not like, we are usually met with anger and frustration. When this happens we often assume that others do not like us anymore, and tell ourselves that we should look elsewhere for friendship.

Since we live with this reality throughout our lives, it only stands to reason that we want to avoid rejection if at all possible. In fact, we fear it and want to stay far away from it. Rejection is an unpleasant experience, and when others do things that we do not like, we tend to reject them as a form of punishment.

Why does rejection affect us so deeply? 

When we are rejected, we think that we have done something wrong. We analyze our actions critically in an effort to rectify the situation. If we find nothing worthy of the rejection, we automatically make the assumption that we were rejected because we are not good enough to be loved and accepted. 

In fact, we go one step further; we assume that we are no longer lovable and since we are no longer lovable, we must be worthless. Feelings of worthlessness lead to hopelessness and helplessness, the stuff of which suicide is made.

It is no wonder that people commit suicide when they are fired from their job, experience the death of a close loved one, or suffer from a broken relationship. They feel rejected by those who are most important to them; therefore, they assume that they are no longer worthy to live. There is no point in going on.

Even if the rejection we experience has nothing to do with a relationship, we still equate it with feelings of worthlessness. Whether a bad grade on our report card, a “thanks for applying but we don’t need you” letter following a job interview, or a “sorry you don’t qualify for the loan” phone call, we still have feelings of not being good enough.

In other words, we don't have what it takes. We have put forth our best effort, but we didn't make it. We weren't smart enough, tough enough, or in the groove enough. We just feel short. The rejection hole we fall into gets pretty deep and the feelings of discouragement, despair, and despondency bury us alive!

What can we do about it? 

In order to stop the fear of rejection from burying us, we have to stop the assumptions:
  1. Rejection does not mean that we are not loved. As members of the human family, we are all loved unconditionally by our Maker. This beautiful earth is evidence of God's love for everyone. The sun shines on all. The trees, grass, flowers, and bushes are made specifically for our happiness. When we tap into God's love, it does not matter how other people treat us. We are loved and lovable.
  2. Rejection does not mean that we have done something wrong. Frowns do not equal anger, and anger does not equal hate. Rejection may mean that the time is not right, that it is not a good fit, or that we are not compatible. Rejection is simply the process by which we gain information and learn from it. Avoid taking rejection personally by looking at it as simply another piece of information in the puzzle we call life. We work very hard putting all the pieces in the right places, only to find that when we do, the picture has changed. Rejection is simply the initiation of change.
  3. Rejection does not mean that we are not good enough. It simply means that it is time to do something different. Thankfully, we can change; it is possible. Rejection simply means that we go back to the drawing board and come up with another plan. We go forward with faith. 
Fear of rejection may seem like a monster at first glance, but when we look at it with a change in our perspective, we are able to use it to our advantage. Remember, we are good enough. We have another chance; we have another choice.

©2014 by Denise W. Anderson, all rights reserved.

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