Overcoming your fear of rejection

Overcoming your fear of rejection
January 20, 2016 David Shanley, Psy.D.

It’s time to get good at getting rejected!

What? That sounds like a terrible idea! If you’re like millions of Americans struggling with social anxiety, then you are probably thinking that there is no way you want to get good at getting rejected. The whole point is to avoid getting reject, right?

I recently came across an inspiring NPR story about a man who decided to turn the rules of life on their head. He had been rejected by his spouse, and started isolating in his apartment and avoiding social contact all together. Like many people, he feared being rejected by others, and thus avoided social contact in order to avoid his anxiety. However, one night in his apartment he finally realized the toll this was taking on his life. He was alone, depressed, and miserable. So, he came up with a creative solution, which, spoiler alert, is exposure therapy!

This man’s idea was to come up with a game to intentionally get rejected as much as possible, in order to overcome his fear of getting rejected. If getting rejected no longer had to be something that he feared, then situations where he may get rejected no longer had to be something that he avoided.

This may sound difficult at first, and it was for this man as well. He compared overcoming his fear of rejection to a story about the fear soldiers experienced having to kill a rabid dog with a spade. Gruesome as it may be, the analogy vividly highlights just how powerful the fear of rejection feels. And yet despite the strength of that fear, it can still be overcome in exactly the way the man describes in the story.

Practice, practice, practice! One must learn that rejection is not death, as our minds may have us believe. Sure, rejection stings, but it does not have to be avoided at all costs. If one is willing to put themselves out there, or intentionally get rejected, one can learn that they can actually handle the feelings and experience of rejection when it comes, and bounce back. And, more importantly, they will now have the freedom to go after the things, people, relationships, jobs, and everything else in life that they want most. You only get one life, it’s time to make the most of it!

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