In this post you’ll find a few strategies you can implement today to your life and business to overcome the fear of rejection.
As residents of this planet, and as members of the human being community, rejection just like death and taxes, is one of those things that if you didn’t go through yet, you will eventually. This truth is even more emphasized on the world of business. Where one has to convince someone else that one’s idea/product/service really is of value. Here the “someone else” could be a potential investor, with the power to make the business grow beyond anything ever imagined, or the costumer himself. Whoever it is, the first thing we all need to do, just like on any persuasion related activity, is to make the offer. Its commonly said that in order to win the lottery one has to buy the ticket, and this also applies to sales and fund-raising. To make the sale or to get the money you need to “buy the ticket”. One big issue is that sometimes a rejection on any of those areas is so paralyzing that we prefer to avoid making the offer, even if doing so would make us likely to change our lives completely. So, along with creativity, risk taking, and hunger for knowledge and improvement, also comes the ability to deal with the fear of rejection for the traits that one has to have if one wants to become successful in business.
How to get over the fear of rejection
Getting over the fear of rejection just like smoking and pretty much any other bad habit is a hard thing to do. A big part of the reason why the ones who are not naturally “fearless” might remain fearful is that this fear is ingrained on the deep and mysterious code that makes us, us. Its natural to be fearful of rejection, and the natural is one of the hardest things to beat. There are however, a few things one can do to decrease or even eliminate this fear, so you can be more productive and successful on your ventures. Below are a few.
1. Expose yourself to rejection
One way to deal with pretty much any kind of fear is to expose yourself to it. This can be seen clearly on a few of the most “frightening” areas of life. Think about dating for example. Whoever decides to expose his/her feelings at the risk of being rejected, and possibly even ashamed in front of its peers, is the one who goes through the cocktail of emotions and neurochemicals that we interpret as approach anxiety. This anxiety can be paralyzing on the sense that instead of going after what he/she wants, the person prefers to give up on the possibility of a romantic future with the person/ kind of people they admire or aspire to be with. The ones who live inside this protective bubble of avoiding the kinds of people who intimidate them, never get to dominate, nor even become immune to such fears.
The most obvious solution is to, well, …, take the leap. The first few times you go through this, the cocktail of emotions can be quite overwhelming, but if you go through it long enough, eventually it all becomes easy. What we label as courage, could as well be nothing more than a dessencitization to the fear of the unknown. You’ve felt afraid or fearful so many times that, you don’t feel afraid or fearful anymore, in a similar fashion in which a team that never wins, eventually stops being disappointed after a loss. The loss just isn’t painful anymore.
This strategy/ technique of dominating phobias by exposing yourself to them over time is a part of what goes by the name of exposure therapy. Exposure therapy is in simple words a technique to control or even dominate phobias by gradually exposing the patient to the source of the phobia without the expected negative result.
The reason why we fear things is in part, if not most of it due to the fact that we think that whatever we fear will do us harm. Sometimes we associate neutral day to day things as harmful, and when this happens, our ability to function well in society, as well as the ability to live a good life is impaired. In the end of the day, one of our primary goals on this earth is to life as long as possible, and this means that designing/developing strategies to make sure that we don’t die is important to us. The ability to fear and avoid the potentially harmful is one of those strategies.
Exposure therapy is in part about convincing that subconscious part of us that whatever think we think will do us harm is in fact harmless. By gradually exposing yourself to the source of your fear, while making sure that no harm is done during the exposure, our subconscious theory that A will do us harm loses its strength. In science, a theory no matter how good-looking, and how brilliant the brain behind it is, is refuted the moment evidence proving the opposite is brought to light.
We could argue that something similar happens to our minds. For a very long time we believe that we are not smart enough, until the moment someone tells us we’re smart. Five or 10 more people saying the same, and we completely lose the grip on our life long beliefs. This is, of course, assuming that we assume that they are being honest.
2. Watch the ted x channel by Till H. Grob- “How to become more confident”
I watched a ted x talk once whose subject of focus was precisely the fear of rejection. The speaker mentioned the fact that although his level of popularity and looks, he still felt somewhat paralyzed on social settings. We would think that even the physically fit and popular wouldn’t have any kind of social anxiety, but as we can see, this is not necessarily true. A part of what makes most of us somewhat anxious around other people is that we care about what they might be thinking about us. As explained in many books that touch on the subject of evolution and human psychology, being socially anxious can be said to be good to our primal ancestors’ survival. During that time, the ones who had a bad social game where at the risk of being rejected by their tribes, and being rejected by one’s tribe was synonym to death. Being left alone meant that one would without the protection of the tribe, be open to attacks by wild animals, as well as other tribes peoples. This, in addition to the fact that no one would want to mate with you, would not only mean that you’d be alone and likely to die, but also that your genes would die with you, since you wouldn’t be able to have kids without a mate.
So, one solution of evolution was to make us more self-aware, and aware of the current social rules of the tribe. The socially unacceptable was to be feared, and the social norms to be followed. Humans grew with a heightened sense of what the social rules where, and aware of how might others think of them through the lenses of those social rules. This is partially the reason why sleeping on the floor in a public place for 30s or more can be one of the most frightening experiences we can have, eventhough the odds that we will die from it are close to none.
Hypnosis is one of those subjects which has gotten a fair amount of exposure to the mainstream public but still can be said to be underrated. Their reported powers to cure problems such as migraines, depression, as well as a vast array of chronic kinds of pain, show that its not the case that all kinds of problems can only be solved with a pill.
One other thing you can benefit from by taking advantage of hypnosis techniques, specially self-hypnosis, is to reduce your fear of rejection. Hypnosis is at its core a field in which one gets to work with the mind to solve problems. With the advance of science, and medicine, we have become more and more used to taking pills to pretty much any problem related to the human body/mind. When it comes to fear of rejection, there is certainly one diagnosis at play, which in turn results into a doctor prescribing a medicine which is likely to however solve your problem, also instigate some sort of addiction. Look at hypnosis as a kind of medicine with little to no side effects, where by changing how the mind looks at or perceived the things that frighten you, you get to enjoy a decreased sense of fear, as well as an increased sense of freedom of expression.
4.Reframe your fear
A part of what make us fearful of some things is the way we look at them. Dark is only fearful for a child because the child associates the dark with something dangerous to its existence. Teens fear the judgment of their peers largely because they Cary in mind the idea that being judged by them will mean that they will never be loved/ appreciated by anybody on the future. Many men and women spend lots of money and time in front of the mirror for the “fear” of looking unattractive to potential mates, and so on. The thing about fear is that in order for something to “earn the right” to be fearful, that thing must matter to us in some way, or at the very least, affect something that matters to us. Often, what matters to us does so not because we genuinely saw value on it, but largely that we were told by someone else that those things matter.
Think about success and family. Success is a relative term for all of us, until someone gives us the definition that, lets say, making a million dollars is what it means to be successful. For most of us if not all, family and bonding with parents is vital to our lives. The problem is that for some people, this idea only makes part of their set of core beliefs after they hear it from someone else. Before that family wasn’t as important, nor making a million dollars was a representation of success.
Same happens with our fears. By changing the way we look at things, as well as the weight we give to them, we can also change the way we interact with them. One way we could change our fear of rejection is by acknowledging the fact that there is over 7 billion people on this planet. Which means that looking at things from this perspective, no one single rejection carries a large weight. In dating this idea makes you more confident because you become aware that there are lots of opportunities for dating, and in business, this idea makes you more confident because instead of assuming that business opportunities are scarce, you become aware of the opposite.
5. Be aware that its probably not that big of a deal
On one innovation and entrepreneurship class one speaker came to give the class a lesson, and the one thing she said that I still remember to this date, was that university students tend to catastrophize their current situation, and assume that the first failures they go through are a representation of what their future would look like. Her lesson was: “chances are that everything will be alright”. I know, I know, I’m pretty sure that if you’re old enough you’ve probably heard this kind of advice thousands of times over, but the truth is that our brains are designed to pay more attention to the possibility that something so wrong will happen to us on the near and far away future that that thing will cause us to die. More often than not our fears are overrated, and this doesn’t mean that what we fear is what’s going to happen, but more of a “what-if” protective measure ingrained deep into our brains. Even if you do get rejected, chances are that for whatever you were trying this is not the last chance you’ll ever have. In life, as we all seen countless times, there is such a thing as second chances.
A part of what goes in our fear of rejection is the weight we give to it. Sometimes the fear is not so much for the rejection itself, but more for the embarrassment we think would result from it. So, as you’ve probably seen at some point or another, the ones who tend to care less about what other people think about them tend to be the ones who are perceived to be more social, and bold. The moment we stop caring as much about what other people see or what they might be thinking of us, we also get the freedom that comes from saying what we want to say, and do what we want to do.
It is all about knowledge and experience 😉
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