In my years of counselling, I have had many clients who have struggled with the fear of rejection. The fear of rejection can impact on how a person experiences life if it is not addressed properly.
A person struggling with the fear of rejection can be defined as someone who fears not being liked, being abandoned, being lonely or not fitting in. Persons struggling with the fear of rejection can experience low self-esteem and lack of confidence. These persons further spent a lot of time worrying what other people may be thinking of them (6).
What are the signs a person is struggling with the fear of rejection?
- Constantly worrying what people think of you.
- Reading too much into what people are saying.
- Going out of your way to please people.
- Protecting yourself by avoiding situations where you can be rejected.
- Not sharing your thoughts and ideas due to the fear that others might disagree (3).
- Scared to stand out and be different.
- Unable to say no.
- Constantly feeling inferior to others.
- Feelings to be like someone else instead of being themself.
- Feeling socially isolated.
- Frequently having critical thoughts (1).
What are the causes of the fear of rejection?
People can experience the fear of rejection because their brains are wired to view all human social experiences as either acceptance or rejection. Some of the reasons why a person’s brain is wired this way can be:
- Childhood trauma. There are various situations that can cause fear of rejection, some can be a parent leaving, losing a loved one or be taken away from your family.
- Low self-esteem and low self-worth.
- A negative belief system. It is possible for a person who saw the world as a dangerous place as a child, will as an adult expect to find danger and pain in everyday life situations.
- Personality disorders. Borderline Personality Disorder includes symptoms that let a person have constant feelings of rejection and abandonment.
- Sensitive personality types. Some people are naturally shy and introverted. This may have an impact on them struggling with social anxiety and cause avoidance of social interaction (2).
Is it possible that the fear of rejection can impact a person’s mental health?
The fear of rejection can be related to mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. When the fear of rejection affects your ability to function normal, talk to a counsellor to assist you in the journey to social and mental wellness (3).
Can fear of rejection impact a person’s relationship?
The fear of rejection can have detrimental effects on relationships.
- Persons struggling with the fear of rejection would sometimes break up with their partner due to fear of being rejected by that person (self-sabotage).
- Feelings of extreme jealousy can cause a positive relationship to end. These feelings of jealousy are caused by the fear of rejection.
- A person struggling with this issue can react by pushing their partner away when they seek closeness and attention.
- The person might believe their body needs to be perfect so they can be loved.
- The person might go out of their way to please their partner and struggle to set boundaries (5).
How can a counsellor help you overcome the fear of rejection?
- The counsellor can help you to learn to validate your feelings.
- They will help you to become aware of your worth.
- Help rebuild your self-esteem.
- Will help you to discover what really scares you about being rejected.
- Motivate you to get into the habit of changing negative self-talk into positive self-talk.
- Help you to identify your support network and be motivated to start leaning about this topic (5).
One of the most effective ways to overcome the fear of rejection is with professional help. CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) is one of the proven therapies used by counsellors to help people struggling with the fear of rejection.
The fear of rejection is a reality and have an impact on many people’s day to day experience. With proper help, patience and understanding it is possible to overcome this issue and be able to live free from the pain and uncertainty this problem cause.
Author: Corey Human, B Th (Hons), M Counselling, Dip Youth Work, Dip Youth Justice, Dip Couns, Dip Pentecostal Theology, Dip Ministry.
For nearly 20 years, Corey has been providing counselling to adolescents, adults and couples experiencing various challenges such as depression, anxiety, addictions and relationship struggles. He can provide counselling in both English and Afrikaans.
- Altheia, 2022, https://lonerwolf.com/fear-of-rejection/
- Darcey, A. M. https://www.harleytherapy.co.uk
- Fristscher, L. 2022, https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-the-fear-of-rejection2671841#:~:text=How%20do%20you%20know%20if,where%20you%20might%20be%20rejected.
- Kovanen, M. https://www.drmarikovanen.co.uk/fear-rejection-relationship/
- Raypole, C. 2019, https://www.healthline.com/health/fear-of- rejection#have-a-backup
- Riser, M. https://www.choosingtherapy.com/fear-of-rejection/