Rejection: 3 ways to overcome the fear and pain


Have you ever feared rejection so much it felt like life or death?

I remember a time during school when my friends gave me the cold shoulder. The way my body processed the rejection felt life threatening.

My heart rate quickened, I became sweaty and panicky, like a prey animal abandoned by its herd.

My reaction felt out of proportion to the situation. But I couldn’t talk myself out of it.

It turns out there are good reasons why rejection feels so painful. In the past, being cast out from the tribe meant losing your life.

So, it makes sense that rejection today can still feel like a small death.

In spite of these very real and painful reactions to rejection, it’s important to overcome your fear. Here are three things you can do to overcome fear of rejection.

1. Acknowledge the pain you’re feeling is real

The pain of actual or anticipated rejection is real. You might experience physical hurt like stomach ache along with the requisite sweaty palms and dry mouth.

Then there is the emotional pain of self-doubt that threatens to pull you under.

It doesn’t help to deny the very real pain you’re feeling. That creates cognitive dissonance which makes you adjust your behavior to a reality you know is not true.

You’re lying to yourself. Don’t do that.

Instead, acknowledge the nerves and work through them. Remember to breathe. You might share your fearful feelings if you’re comfortable doing so.

This way you won’t risk getting through on false bravado. Your vulnerability will shine as you come from an authentic place.

My daughter’s karate teacher asked the kids if they felt nervous before an assessment. He told them he hoped they did because it showed they care.

Much more effective than saying “don’t be nervous.”

2. Surround yourself with supporters

The human need to belong is so strong that a ‘no’ from someone we’ve never met can mean more than a hundred words of encouragement from a loved one.

Make sure the people who surround you are supportive and make you feel good about yourself. It helps to have cheerleaders to encourage you while you’re pushing through scary situations.

Listen to the kind words of people who know you rather than imaginary words of strangers who may or may not reject you.

3. Celebrate your courage to risk rejection

It takes tremendous courage to express your needs or stand in front of a crowd to deliver a speech. You’re doing something many people are afraid to do.

Personal growth only happens outside the comfort zone. Click To Tweet

Remind yourself that personal growth only happens outside the comfort zone. Playing it safe will never help you grow. Change is hard and that’s why most people avoid it.

But you’re not most people! Give yourself a pat on the back for fighting through those real feelings that are designed to keep you safe.

And for having the courage to reach out to others to share you dreams. Because it’s so much easier to hide and go through life without challenging ourselves.

But you’ve decided you want something more and have fought your fears to realize it. This puts you in a class of people who are not willing to settle for the status quo.

It might very well make you the target of people who preferred you stay where you are. Maybe it’s because they envy your desire to honor God’s direction for your life.

Or maybe your staying small served them in some way. Your courage to overcome those obstacles in addition to your own fears is formidable. Remember that.

Rejection as success

I’ve learned to take rejection as confirmation of success. It means I tried and gained knowledge to help me improve or take a different route next time.

What you view as rejection might simply be a poor fit rather than a failure. Click To Tweet

What you view as rejection might simply be a poor fit rather than a failure.

You’ll be happy to know your willingness to risk rejection makes you more evolved. Back in the days when we could not survive alone, you would have adapted your behavior to fit in with the tribe.

Thankfully, today those shackles no longer bind us. All it takes is courage to overcome the fear of rejection.

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