What a great night I had ahead of me! I was just 14 years old and my family was going to a party and a new family would be there whom I hadn’t met yet. I was so excited! I knew they had a daughter close to my age and since they were new in town, I was pretty sure she would be glad to have a friend.
After dinner, our three families were re-grouping in the living room and sharing conversation. Suddenly the mother of my new friend said the most bewildering words to me,
“Gina, you are the most interesting little girl I’ve ever seen. You act like it never even crosses your mind that someone might not like you!”
I stopped in my tracks, wondering if this was a compliment, a dig, or just an observation. My first reaction was that she must not like me. But she had been very kind.
I glanced at my mom who shrugged as if to say, “I have no idea what she means.”
Looking again at this mom, I asked, “Ummmmm, what does that mean?”
She expounded, “You just have so much fun with everybody and you are so carefree. It’s as if it never crosses your mind that someone might not like you!”
I can’t say her clarification made me feel any better.
“Oh,” I mumbled. “I’m sure plenty of people don’t like me.”
I wandered off with the teenagers but her words never left me. I was too young then to realize that she was commenting more on her own social style than on mine, but it left me puzzling…
Do people REALLY walk around wondering if other people will like them or not? How completely exhausting that would be!
I tried to remember the last time I went somewhere in fear of being disliked. I couldn’t think of anything. I realized then that I was usually more concerned with making sure that someone else felt comfortable than myself. I guess I figured that I already knew how to be comfortable. I’m sure it helped that all I’d ever known in my household was love (and the drama that comes with five girls.)
Aaaaah to return to the innocence of that day!
In the decades since then, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to see:
- Indeed, some people will not like us
- Sometimes the feeling is mutual
- It hurts most when it’s a relationship that matters
So, what to do if you are in a relationship that matters and you are feeling disliked or even hated? What if that person is your co-worker or your spouse? Or what if you just walk around with fear of such rejection?
The fact is, we were created for connection, not rejection.
We create disconnection out of emotional self-preservation. Unfortunately this is one of the greatest sources of personal stress and sickness – so learning to maneuver the landscape of personal relationships is essential to your thriving.
Here are 3 keys to Overcoming the Fear of Rejection so you can create connection with those you love, those you like, or those you feel stuck with:
1. Be courageous.
Courage doesn’t mean that you are fearless, it means feeling the fear and doing it anyway. I prefer to say, “feel the fear, let it dissipate, and do it anyway.”
Anytime you face uncomfortable emotions, it is healthy to acknowledge them rather than run away from them. Take a deep breath and say to your self, “Even though I hate this nervous feeling, I totally accept myself anyway and I choose to feel calm and confident.”
Understand that the feeling you have is just an energy. It is simply a conditioned response from your body and it really doesn’t mean anything.
Now, imagine how you would act IF you knew you would be warmly received by this person. If you knew they would look on you with a genuine smile, how would you act? Then act that way. Be at peace. Stand in your power.
2. Let Love Be Your Shield.
In the words of Og Mandino in The Greatest Secret in the World:
“For just as love is my weapon to open the hearts of men, love is also my shield to repulse the arrows of hate and the spears of anger. Adversity and discouragement will beat against my new shield and become as the softest of rains. My shield will protect me in the marketplace and sustain me when I am alone. It will uplift me in moments of despair…”
You become unstoppable when you realize that the love in you is greater than the unhappiness around you. Ultimately you cannot lose when you stay in a place of love and let love shield you.
3. Choose to Assume the Best instead of the Worst
It is so easy to take things personally when we feel rejected, but most likely no one is trying to deliberately hurt you. Assume that they are under a great deal of stress and would love your encouragement. Assume that you have the power to make their day with a genuine smile and an action that reaches out. Assume that they need you to be your self.
It’s true that we are all so different as individuals sharing our homes, our workplaces, our planet. But studies show that in the end, as human beings, we all truly want the same thing.
We want to experience love, joy and peace.
If you see yourself as a carrier of those qualities, than you will overcome any fear of rejection by knowing that you’ve got something, you’re going somewhere and things change when you get there!
Do you have any comments about these 3 tips or want to share what helps you overcome the fear of rejection? Please share below!