The fear of rejection is a relatively common problem. Most people have experienced a fear of rejection at some point in their lives, and it’s not particularly unusual for these fears to overwhelm people and become socially debilitating. Many experts believe that fear of rejection is rooted in an evolutionary tribal social impulse, and in that sense, it might be as much of a primal fear as the fear of a dangerous animal. Being rejected in primal times may have been devastating to a person’s status, which could be potentially dangerous in that environment. That danger may have created evolutionary pressure towards the development of a natural fear of rejection.
For many people, the possibility of being rejected can seem incredibly daunting—facing rejection can be almost as frightening as facing physical danger. In cases like these, it can be difficult for people to view rejection objectively, and they often lack the ability to put things in perspective. For people in this situation, it can be helpful to have someone else outline the real likely consequences of a potential rejection so that they can be compared to the person’s imagined disastrous, worst-case scenario. This can sometimes help people avoid being frozen by their fears.
When people fear rejection, it can sometimes have the effect of making them seem less confident, and because of this, the fear can actually have self-fulfilling results. Some people find it easier to face rejection once they realize that their fear is actually increasing their chances of rejection. Once people gain a little confidence, their rejection rate will often go down significantly, and that can also be self-reinforcing in the same way that the fear is self-fulfilling.
For some people, visualization can be a useful strategy for dealing with rejection. There are many exercises built around this kind of therapy, and most of them involve visualizing a situation where the fear of rejection would normally spring up. The person will focus on visualizing herself overcoming her fear and receiving a positive outcome. With repeated use, this kind of therapy can gradually reduce a person’s fear in her day-to-day life.
Another useful strategy for some people is to stop thinking about the consequences of rejection and focus on the possible rewards of acceptance. For people who are generally motivated by negatives, this can be a helpful way of turning the tables. Sometimes it allows them to see things in a different light while letting them have a better understanding of the ways rejection might be holding them back.