Rejection is the dismissal or refusal of something or someone. Fear of rejection can be so paralysing for people that they never do the things in life they want to. Why do we fear rejection? Why does it matter to us so much what other people think? Is it because we have been kept in line by the belief that if we act out, buck the trend, choose the alternative we will be thought of badly? Is it because we have been conditioned to affirm ourselves through other people’s opinions of us? Why are we so insecure and what can we do about it?
Our ego strikes again when we face rejection. Suddenly our minds go into overdrive in an attempt to work out what the other person/ institution/ group is thinking of us. We usually assume they find us to be not good enough, that they view us as unworthy. We feel insecure, worthless, angry, frustrated. We get caught up in the worry that other people will feel the same way. We decide we won’t make ourselves visible again, won’t try, won’t reach out, will stay safe.
How helpful is this approach? In terms of living a happy, healthy and successful life, how well are we doing if we take this route? What are we hiding from by staying safe? Someone else’s thoughts? Our thoughts about someone else’s thoughts? Our thoughts about someone else’s thoughts that they aren’t even having?
Firstly, we need to stop doing other people’s thinking for them. If we don’t know that another person finds us to be not good enough, we need to stop imagining that they do. Secondly, if they do, we need to stop caring about it. This is not to say that we ignore constructive observations from others or don’t seek or accept advice, rather that we look within to the whole and perfect person we are instead of to the ego whose voice tells us over and again what conditions need to be met for us to be peaceful, healthy, happy. Thirdly, we must stop taking other people’s reactions to us personally. They are responsible for their thoughts and feelings and their decisions are to do with their perspective on the world and not ours. Lastly, we must recognise that playing it safe by hiding from the world doesn’t necessarily change other people’s opinions about us. All we do by withdrawing from the world is cut ourselves off from growth and experience.
Something we come to understand as we get older is that, generally speaking, we don’t have much control over what other people think of us. We may believe that they understand our actions, are considerate of our differences but the image they hold of us in their minds will rarely match the image we hold of ourselves in our own.
Rejection is a natural and normal part of life. Not everyone will like us, not everyone will be on board with our vision. Not everyone will find us good enough. But what does any of that really mean other than what we allow it to? How many stories have we heard from successors in their fields about the numerous times they were rejected before someone took a chance on them? How many people have had their work receive recognition only after they died? What if they had given up? What if they had been paralysed by their fear of other people’s opinions? They would have missed out on the joy of creating and following their passions.
Our reality is constantly changing based on our mood in the moment. Our interpretation of the world is dependent on our ever changing mind and this holds true for every human being on Earth. How limiting it is to allow our fear of other people’s opinions, based on momentary and personal perceptions of the world, to prevent us from taking action just in case it results in rejection.
The day we stop caring about what other people think and stop trying to live in a way that we believe controls other people’s opinions of us is the day we become free. Let’s start doing for the sake of doing and let go of the belief that we need others to agree with our choices or accept them. There are billions of people in the world. For every one who says no there is likely to be someone else that says yes. And until we find them, let’s start saying yes to ourselves and let go of the need for affirmation. We have everything we need within; let’s start acting like it.