The Real Way to Overcome the Fear of Rejection

Fear of rejection, everybody has it to some level or another in some context or another.

Anyone who tells you they are 100% completely unafraid of rejection is either lying, hilariously delusional or has psychopathic tendencies.

If you’re normal and have the slightest sense of self-awareness, you’re probably afraid of rejection in many different contexts. (Welcome to the club)

But the difference between those who succeed versus those who fail is that those who succeed are comfortable enough with the fear of rejection to take action.

It’s not that they’re not afraid of rejection, but they’re afraid and they do it anyway.

There’s nothing noble about getting rejected — it can be quite mentally taxing, especially if you’re constantly being rejected and don’t see a way out.

The solution comes in becoming comfortable with the idea of rejection happening to you, but minimizing the potential of that actually happening and dealing with it in healthy ways if and when you get rejected.

Why Are We Afraid of Rejection

The fear of rejection is human instinct.

When human instinct was being formed (a long time ago, ~ 6 million years ago), being rejected by others meant that we were being rejected from those in our tribe, the people we depended on for our survival. Rejection from the tribe meant that you had to fend for yourself in the cold, dark woods. And when the equation came down to one individual human versus all the wild animals and conditions… let’s just say that the human doesn’t do so great.

So the fear became hardwired in our DNA. Rejection literally equaled death.

Fast forward many millennia, and although our society looks completely different, our instincts are still quite similar.

The reason why you’re afraid to go talk to the attractive person you’ve been crushing on, the reason why you’re too afraid to text first, the reason why you’re afraid to ask them to meet up are all the same reasons as your ancestor being afraid of fighting bears, lions, and stuff on his own many many years ago.

It’s Not (Always) Your Fault

To blame all rejections on you is foolish.

To blame all rejections on others is equally foolish.

To blame all rejections on external circumstances is foolish.

To try and find out the truth about every single rejection is foolish.

As you live your life and interact with others, you will get rejected many times in many different ways. It’s likely going to be a combination of all three of the factors we listed above.

Just knowing that all rejections are not your fault is a big relief to most.

Making good guesses as to why you got rejected is something that comes with managing your emotions and understanding the nuances of life, but there are things you can do to improve your chances of not getting rejected.

How to Reduce Rejections That Are Your Fault

Likable people get rejected less because people… like them. Sounds simple but it’s the most logical solution. Lucky for you, a big part of my book and program is dedicated to making yourself someone that people actually want to be social with.

Those who are socially intelligent get rejected less because they are able to communicate in ways that make people more receptive to them. Aside from physical attacks, one of the biggest threats to people by others is people that are not socially intelligent. A lack of social intelligence codes as a threat because they may not act in socially predictable or accepted ways. Creepy, needy, weird all fall under this category.

You can study many sources including the book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, the YouTube channel Charisma on Command, or the Art of Charm podcast, to name a few.

How to Reduce Rejections That Are Other People’s Fault

When you become vulnerable enough to put yourself in a position where you can get rejected, you’re taking an emotional and social risk. Why would you take a risk on people who have a higher likelihood of acting in a harmful way that isn’t in your control?

There’s a catch to this: you need to be secure and emotionally stable yourself. It’s difficult to detect insecurity and emotional instability in others if that behavior is normal to you as well.

A fish has no concept of water because they’ve spent their entire lives only in water. Emotionally unhealthy people can have a hard time understanding emotionally healthy behavior because you only know how to do what you know.

Therapy, becoming healthy, and reading good self-help books on the topic are great ways to help you learn to become more emotionally secure and stable.

How to Reduce Rejections That are an External Circumstances’ Fault

This one is going to be almost impossible to explain in a short and simple way since all external circumstances have so many unique variables and conditions.

A good general rule for this is to try and control the possibilities of extreme emotion that could cause someone to reject you. These are going to be situations where people feel safe, comfortable, and relaxed. When you feel rushed, threatened, angry, scared, annoyed, or so, the chances of rejection skyrocket due to a bigger chance of an emotional reaction.

But trying to control ALL the variables is pretty much impossible.

Self Esteem and the Fear of Rejection

The way the human mind works might be different than what you’re used to believing. We may believe that the human brain is rational, where we objectively layout all the facts and information and make a decision to come to the best possible conclusion.

While that is true for a very small percentage of our total thoughts, most of our thoughts are emotional. When our brain operates on emotions, it creates an emotional conclusion, and we find the facts or information that will confirm our preexisting conclusion.

Inner security, self-confidence, self-esteem, whatever you wish to call it, is an emotional perception of yourself. The emotional conclusion of your self-perception is somewhere between: “I completely suck and am worthless” to “I’m the greatest person in the world.”

For most people who are terrified of rejection, it looks something like this: “I’m not good enough for people, I don’t like myself.”

Where this becomes a problem is that when a person rejects you, they are sending you information. The information is that they did not want to talk to you or be with you for whatever reason. What happens when you get rejected is that it either confirms or conflicts with your pre-existing emotional conclusion of yourself and if you’re very afraid of rejection, it confirms your pre-existing conclusion of I don’t like myself and I’m not good enough for a person since this person didn’t want to talk to you.

The opposite of this is when it conflicts with your pre-existing emotional conclusion of yourself. Those with high, healthy self-esteem don’t take rejection as poorly or personally since they don’t use rejection as validation for the fact that they dislike and don’t accept themselves. It may very well still hurt, but their perception of self isn’t completely shattered.

Learn how to accept yourself, to love and support yourself unconditionally, and you should be well on your way to becoming comfortable with the idea of getting rejected.

Use Rejection to Learn How to Succeed (MUST READ!!!)

There’s nothing noble about being rejected.

Cute sayings like “don’t take it personally,” “they’re the ones missing out,”, and other things your mom would probably tell you to sound good and may make you feel a little less shitty about yourself, but that’s not enough.

Being rejected means nothing and won’t do anything for you unless you use it to learn how to succeed.

More specifically, you need to use your failures to understand the logic of how to succeed.

In any context, whether it’s business, friends, or romantic relationships, there is a logic to succeeding. Many people have succeeded in every single context for that simple reason.

When you fail, it’s probably due to a failure in understanding the logic to succeed.

That’s why there’s nothing noble about getting rejected. Your first rejection and your thousandth rejection doesn’t do anything to serve your goals unless you use those rejections to understand the logic.

Relying just on personal experiences may not be enough, because you can only act to the level of your knowledge. It’s definitely a good idea to learn from other people. There is virtually no context where other people have not succeeded and are willing to share their experiences. Whether it be my book, my program, or other people’s information, if you look hard enough, you will most likely find the information you’re looking for.

Lucky for you, the internet exists.

Author of Outside the Box to Box: Experience the Joys of Connection by Creating a Rewarding Social Life