What is the Fear Of Rejection

Published: 21st March 2012
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What is Rejection?

A Rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success. Bo Bennett

I could write an entertaining novel about rejection slips, but I fear it would be overly long. Louise Brown

The meaning of the word rejection is to refuse to recognize or be friendly to another person. When we fear rejection we fear that others will not recognize us as human beings and that they may treat us badly. This is not something most of us actively seek. We prefer to avoid rejection as this runs contrary to the way we normally operate in the world.

Usually we try very hard to gain acceptance and fit in to our families and communities rather than be ostracised by them. This is good and necessary as life would be pretty awful if everyone were narcissistic, ego-centric and self-serving. It would produce a world of chaos as no one would be willing to work for the good of others or co-operate to get anything done. Hence, acceptance is an important aspect of life and vital if we are to enjoy life on this earth.

The reality is, that we mostly seek acceptance and try hard to avoid rejection. Ray Bradbury says, You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance. If you are to excel in life and achieve your goals you will need to learn that even though you prefer kindness and friendliness from others, rejection is also a part of life. It is an inescapable part of what it is to be human. Your success will hinge on the level at which you can reject the need for acceptance. When I say reject acceptance, I mean demanding it from others to make yourself feel okay. When you demand that others must accept you, you are placing yourself in a dangerous situation, as you essentially grant them power over you.

The fear of rejection is a social phenomenon. It occurs in the context of other people. If you were the only person alive you wouldnt chance to develop it, as there would be no one around to reject you. Living in a world full of people is a whole different story, as there are many people, both important and unimportant who may push you away. Hence, the fear of rejection exists within the context of our social groups.

The fear of rejection is a form of social control with families, peer groups, companies, communities, religious groups, all using it to control the lives of others. It is inescapable and your life has undoubtedly been affected by it. It has been used on you and used by you as a form of control and manipulation. At times it helps you get what you want and at other times it helps others get what they want from you. The fear of rejection is a strong mechanism which operates all around us all the time.

Most of the time we are unaware of its effects as we don't realise we have encountered it. We merely react to situations unconsciously and find ourselves simply doing things automatically. For example, many people who do not want to be disturbed by salespeople, may simply project body language that conveys a sense of rejection. This usually stops many salesperson from approaching them. Its not the body language thats stops the approach, its the fear that is produced in the salesperson and how they react to that fear.

As you can see, people have a powerful tool at their disposal; they can invoke fear of rejection in you and thus get you to leave them alone. Until you can understand this social control mechanism and how to manage it more effectively, you may always be influenced by its power to manipulate your behaviour.
There are thousands of examples in the world of social control through the fear of rejection. In some countries if people do not follow certain religions for example, they are cut off from their communities and families. People are excommunicated if they do not tow the line. The fear of losing family and friends is enough to keep millions of people from rocking the boat and keep them in line.

They are essentially forced to introject and accept others values and beliefs. At times this has benefits to the individual, and at times it does harm. For example many young people begin smoking, drinking and taking drugs to fit in with peer groups. Their desire to be accepted is so great that they are wiling to forgo concern for their physical health to fit in with the crowd and be accepted. It is evident that the need for acceptance is very powerful and has the potential to exert great control on our lives.

But just like acceptance is a necessary part of life, so is rejection. The same way acceptance carries with it certain advantages, so does rejection. It may not seem like it when you are going through the experience, but in retrospect you may realise that it has certain advantages that will benefit you in the long run. For example, rejection makes you tougher. It fuels your resolve to try again. If your desire to achieve is great enough, rejection will only give you the necessary impetus to try harder and not give up.

It will also stretch you to become better at what you do. If no one ever rejected you, you would have no reason to improve your approach. You would simply stagnate in the status quo. Rejection forces you to use your creative juices and come up with new ways of working and thinking. You become smarter as a result, developing new ideas and gaining new knowledge. You tap into your creative mind to produce new ideas that makes life exciting and challenging.
Rejection can provide you with new challenges that build your character and improve your confidence.

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