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Fear of Rejection: Two effective coping strategies

How to Deal with the Fear of Rejection?

The topic at one glance

In our last post, we described how the fear of rejection can damage our relationships. It can mean we turn to ineffective coping strategies such as substance abuse, isolation, or arrogance to protect ourselves from pain. If you haven’t yet read the last post ‘How the Fear of Rejection Can Destroy Relationships’, it might be a good idea to start with this before you continue reading here.

Hands forming a heart

Two Effective Strategies for Dealing with the Fear of Rejection

My reliance on ineffective strategies for avoiding rejection meant I pushed people away and hurt those who remained. But, as the poet William Blake once said, ‘the fool who persists in his folly will become wise’. The cost of continuing with these strategies became too high, and I was forced to find a new way of approaching life.

Strategy 1 – Choosing to Feel Connected with Others

One common mistake we can make is to believe that it is our job to get everyone to like us. This approach is doomed to failure because:

Things changed for me when I changed my focus to liking people rather than trying to get them to like me. It was the feeling of connection that I was always after, and it was wonderful to find that this something I could just choose to create – it wasn’t as if people could forbid me from liking them.

The more I choose to feel connected to others, the more my relationships improved. I was then able to like people without them having to display obvious signs of liking me, and it is even possible to feel a sense of connection with those who appeared hostile.

Loving-kindness (metta) meditation is a great tool for helping us develop this sense of connection.

Strategy 2 –Self-Soothing

There is likely a spectrum of situations and events that can trigger our fear of rejection. If we have previously put a lot of effort into avoiding any possibility of being hurt, it may mean this fear can be triggered by relatively minor incidents (e.g. another person fails to smile when we greet them).

Once the fear of rejection has been triggered, it needs to be acknowledged. If we try to ignore this discomfort, or tell ourselves ‘we are just being silly’, we are more likely to act out with habitual behaviors (e.g. turning to drugs). Our fear of rejection doesn’t mean we are weak or bad people, it is just a reaction the body has developed to keep us safe.

We self-sooth by learning to sit with any inner discomfort until it passes (this is closely related to self-compassion). The more we do this, the easier it becomes to handle feelings of rejection. This means we no longer need to try so hard to protect ourselves. We then become willing to fully open ourselves to others, to be authentic, because we know we can manage rejection when it arises.

Please share this post if you feel it could be helpful for another person.

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