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.
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.
Other Topics That Might Interest You
Can we be too old for rehab? In this post we examine legitimate age-related concerns while also explaining why it is never too late for second-chances in life.
Not everyone who goes to rehab will achieve long-term recovery. It is not just a matter of luck though. We examine here why some people are more likely to succeed than others.
Finding the most suitable rehab program can be a bit like tuning a guitar. If it is tuned too tightly the string might break, but if it is too loose, it becomes impossible to play.
A toxic relationship can be a bit like drinking contaminated water. It may seem to quench our thirst, but it is also making us sick.
An insecure attachment style can be like a bucket full of holes. It doesn’t matter how much water you put in there, the bucket continues to feel empty.
Sound therapy is based on the idea that vibration is a foundational principle of our universe. We can use sound as an aid to meditation and relaxation.