Living with a fear of rejection
A fear of rejection, be it to do with relationships or careers can hold us back. Rejection leaves us vulnerable and insecure. Fitting in and being part of the group is what has enabled us to evolve. Historically outsiders have always been vulnerable to being picked off by predators.
If you are vulnerable to a fear of rejection then in relationships it is likely to creep in and undermine your sense of security and pleasure.
All too quickly we can start to feel doubts about the way our partner behaves with us. Before we know it we become caught up in the sense that we are being rejected. If this takes hold of us it can develop into a painful and destructive cycle of doubt.
We may be prone to project all kinds of fantasies about ourselves as being unlovable. For some of us a fear of rejection can develop into a kind of catastrophizing of our experience. If this is what happens, then the levels of anxiety and self-doubt can become overwhelming. The fear of rejection triggers a complicated set of responses that undermine our capacity to feel any kind of confidence and faith in ourselves.
Where does this fear of rejection come from?
In one view our early environmental experiences, the homes we grew up in, the relationships we had with our mothers, fathers and siblings all create a sense of security in ourselves.
Ideas from object relations theory view the early infant and child relationships as responsible for setting up a kind of internal set of relationships that we carry with us through life. It is from this experience that attachment theorists say we develop a secure base from which to live.
When these internal relationships are secure, we grow and develop with a kind of emotional and psychological insolation. We internalise a sense of being loved and needed and cared for that we carry with us. it gives us a sense of enduring confidence.
But what if we grew up in environments in which we did not develop a secure base and get a sense of love or value?
If there was little consistency in the way we were loved and cared for then we are more likely to experience the world as a place in which we can be unpredictably rejected.
People who have experienced this kind of early experience we will have an insecurity about the way in which they relate to others. They will be more likely to see others as rejecting.
If an insecurity like this develops in our psychological identity, then there is a weakness or vulnerability that is part of our make up. This is a very tiring and trying experience to live with.
Can we find a constructive way to live with our fear of rejection?
Yes, I think we can, if we can find a way to try to develop a clearer understanding about our histories and about how our psychologies developed.
With a clearer understanding about how our states of mind and our fear of rejection developed, then we may be able to respond to our thoughts and feelings differently and to start to look after ourselves better.
We can try to develop something of the secure base that we didn’t get the chance to in our early years.
Learning to live with the fear of rejection
By learning about our psychological weaknesses and vulnerabilities and fear of rejection, we stand a chance of being able to counterbalance our experience and the projections we have of being rejected.
Don’t bury your head in the sand?
If you have grown up with these experiences of rejection and the insecurity that goes with them, you can’t ignore them and magic them away. That is like burying your head in the sand. The insecurities and self-doubts remain there as a kind of Achilles heel of vulnerability that is always likely to undermine our experience and confidence.
But, if we can find the strength to learn more about ourselves and our fears of rejection, then we stand a chance of being able to distinguish between the dangerous and frightening projections that so quickly spring to our minds and threaten to dominate our experience.
We can start to live with and manage our fear of rejection better.
When we start to become more aware and mindful of our psychologies and what they mean for us, we start to develop the capacity to retain a kind of perspective. This means that we don’t get so caught up in the fantasy that we are being rejected.
The fact that we were rejected in the past is one thing it doesn’t mean we are being rejected now.
By becoming more conscious of our psychologies and insecurities we become like a tight rope walker working with a balancing pole. We develop the internal capacity to balance. When we feel we are slipping into a state of anxiety, perhaps to do with a fear of being rejected, we can maintain our balance on the rope. As we do that the frightening sense of rejection passes and we hold our nerve and carry on.
This time we won’t fall!
There is no magic wand that can transform people and eradicate emotional experience or change psychological character. But it is possible to learn to live much more constructively with their fears of rejection and to learn to balance and live better.
If we don’t find ways to live in a more mature or balanced way, we run the risk that the old fear of rejection flares up out of the smallest thing, and before we know it we can go from a secure experience to one dominated by anxiety and insecurity. The more you are caught up in such experience the more the world seems to be a dangerous place which rejects you.
It does not have to be like this. Can you learn to use your experience of rejection to drive you on and make you stronger?
How can Counselling Buckinghamshire help?
A fear of rejection can have a profound impact on your everyday life.
At Counselling Buckinghamshire we have a depth of experience of working with people who are trying to come to terms with feelings like this.
Contact now for a free telephone consultation to discuss how our approach may be relevant to you.