A Common Fear:
One of the most common fears we have is the fear of rejection.
We fear it because the pain of rejection can be as bad as the pain of loneliness. And our response to rejection can take us out of our power.
Fear of rejection often causes anxiety. Social interactions are stressful with anxiety about being rejected.
This often causes us to:
- hold ourselves back in insecurity
- be inauthentic to fit in
- avoid interacting with people as much as we can
A lot of us have social anxiety from fear of rejection and this hurts our social life as well as our inner experience of ourselves.
An Uncommon Cure:
The good news is there is a way to use rejection to empower yourself and help you feel good about yourself! Few of us do this, and those of us who do are happier and more successful. This uncommon cure for social anxiety/fear of rejection begins by changing your perception of rejection from thinking of it as a hurtful experience to thinking of it as a tool and an opportunity.
Embrace the Opportunity:
Every time someone rejects you is a wonderful opportunity! When you embrace this opportunity, you remove the fear factor in approaching people and socializing. You replace fear of rejection with an enjoyment of the opportunity rejection provides you.
What opportunity am I referring to? Feeling bad about yourself, of course. Just kidding! I’m referring to the opportunity to accept yourself in the face of rejection. This is a powerful action and it makes you more powerful.
When you accept yourself when rejected by someone you:
- strengthen your resilience.
- deepen your enjoyment of yourself.
- increase your self-respect.
- deepen your self-acceptance.
All of this puts you more in your power.
What Makes This Hard, Makes You Strong:
It is hardest to accept yourself when you are rejected. That’s why rejection is so useful in empowering you! Because the challenge to accept yourself is greatest when someone else rejects you, the strength gained in overcoming that challenge is greatest also. It’s like gaining more strength from lifting 50 lbs. (accepting yourself when someone else rejects you) than from lifting 5 lbs. (when someone else accepts you).
How You Can Actually DO This:
Right now, you’re probably thinking “Yeah, but it’s not easy. Rejection hurts and makes me feel bad about myself.” Well, there is a method that helps you do this.
It goes like this:
- Someone rejects you in some way and you remember the opportunity created.
- You respond by thinking to yourself: “I like myself anyway.”
- You respect yourself for offering to connect with the person/people who rejected you, or for communicating your idea or opinion.
- You feel into your independence in liking yourself.
- You remind yourself of some specific things you like about yourself.
- Make what you like about yourself feel bigger than the rejection. In this way, you shift from feeling rejected to feeling accepted. This shift in feeling is what works. The previous steps get you into this good feeling shift with which your enjoyment of yourself replaces the hurt of being rejected by someone else.
This can be a quick process. When you get really skilled at it, you can do this in a heartbeat. When you are new to this practice, I suggest taking your time with it. This is a worthy investment of your time. And even when you are experienced and skilled at this, it’s nice to spend some time on it because, hey…it feels good.
And the benefit of using rejection this way is progressive. The more you do this, the deeper your self-acceptance becomes and the more empowered you will feel. So instead of making rejection a painful thing to fear, use it to deepen your personal power.
Put yourself out there. Reach out to people. And if you don’t get rejected, don’t worry. There’s always next time!
And guess what? You become more likeable too! Self-acceptance, self-respect, and self-confidence are more enjoyable than insecurity and self-rejection. They feel better.
The deeper your self-acceptance is, the more internally relaxed about yourself you are. When you are relaxed about yourself, your energy feels better which means you feel better to people. People like people who feel good energetically.
The Common Mistake:
When you respond to rejection by feeling bad about yourself, the tendency is to think of yourself as less likeable and become more insecure. This energy does not feel good and when you feed it by meditating on the rejection and ruminating in the hurt of it, you make yourself less enjoyable and less likeable. Sure it’s okay to feel a little hurt, but keep it brief so this does not weaken you and cause you to hold back your wonderful.
An Example from A Wise Child:
When I was a teenager, I had a friend who was the most popular guy in his high school. This was evident at the parties we went to. And when I visited his school. Everyone seemed to want to hang out with him.
My friend surprised me one day when he told me he had been unpopular in elementary school. I was shocked! I had met him at the beginning of 7th grade (in Boy Scouts) and had known him to be popular then, and all the way into high school. He had been popular in every group I had ever been in with him socially: Boy Scouts, hanging out at parks and beaches, parties and school dances. I had always known him to be popular so I had thought he had been popular his whole life.
Baffled, I asked my friend “Tim, how did you change your unpopularity.” His answer was a lot like the self-acceptance process I have outlined above. It was something he decided the Summer before going into 7th grade (not long before I met him and noticed he was popular). And it was impressive wisdom from a child who was going into the insecure and socially awkward years of adolescence.
The Summer after 6th grade, he decided that whenever he met someone new, he would think to himself “I’m a dork and you’re gonna like me anyway!” Sure, some people didn’t like him, but he went right on accepting himself anyway. He decided that he was likeable even if people thought of him as a dork like they did in elementary school.
And this worked! His self-acceptance won over many people.
Stay tuned for my next article in this series next week!