Fear of rejection, especially in matters of the heart, is a normal reaction. Rejection can harm self-esteem, but is it something we should take so personally?
When the fear of rejection and low-self-esteem are deeply rooted, we have twenty thousand reasons for why we can’t muster the courage to ask someone out or accept an invitation to go out.
Moreover, we have a hard time believing that someone is sincerely interested in us.
Sometimes we go as far as sabotaging relationships before they have a chance to blossom.
Hey, the other shoe’s going to drop and we’re going to get hurt anyway.
Might as well help it along, right?
More often than not, those limited beliefs aren’t based on reality and do nothing but staunch our growth and overall progress.
I want you to succeed and feel good about yourself in all areas of life.
That’s why we’re going to examine the issue of rejection in romantic relationships, its impact on self-esteem, and why we shouldn’t take rejection so personally.
I’ll then give you strategies for busting the rejection myth and building up your self-esteem.
Are you ready to get past your rejection issues?
Then let’s go.
WHAT CAUSES FEAR OF REJECTION
In a prior blog, I discussed how negativity is built into our DNA; hence, our tendency to gravitate to all things negative.
Well, guess what? Fear of rejection has been programmed into our DNA, also.
According to evolutionists, fear of rejection was a tool our tribal ancestors used to modify the behaviors of tribal members who got out of line. To survive, they had to fit in and to fit in, they had to abide by tribal rules.
If they broke the rules, they’d be ostracized and kicked out of the tribe, which meant sure death. It was impossible to survive on their own, so painful rejection was feared and avoided at all costs.
This theory explains why we’re such social creatures, and why we crave acceptance.
CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES AND FEAR OF REJECTION
Not everyone has a happy childhood. Some of us grow up in abusive home environments where we’re told that we’re worthless, a mistake, will never amount to anything, etc.
Repetition, whether it be of good or bad things, does wire us to think and feel certain ways.
As a child, I remember being told by my parents daily that I was worthless, and that I’d never amount to anything.
The “Never amount to anything” line was my stepfather’s favorite, along with “You’ll never succeed at anything. Not even at being on a factory assembly line.”
On top of that, I felt invisible. My parents were great with my two brothers. They would spend a lot of quality time with them. But I was never included in those interactions. I’d watch from the sidelines wondering what I had done wrong, or what was wrong with me.
I spent the majority of my childhood and adolescence in my room escaping the situation by reading books and writing poetry.
I got through that period of my life by using my imagination to create other worlds where I’d fit in, and writing about what I was feeling.
Bad childhood experiences leave a definite mark on people.
They stripped me of my sense of self-worth and caused some serious rejection issues.
It impacted how I related to intimate partners later on in life.
This leads me to…
PAST BAD RELATIONSHIP EXPERIENCES AND THEIR IMPACT ON FEAR OF REJECTION AND SELF-ESTEEM
The dirtbag that came along after the second dirtbag that came along after the first dirtbag, and so on.
You know we always blame it on them, right?
At least until we realize that we have some serious rejection issues that need to be dealt with. But that’s a topic for a whole other post.
For the purpose of this discussion, let’s focus on us being the innocent parties, and them being the dirtbags who wronged us.
When someone we love doesn’t reciprocate our feelings, or when they do reciprocate then do us wrong, the pain of rejection is excruciating.
Especially if we already have low self-esteem and are rejection sensitive (RS).
To protect ourselves, we shut down emotionally, stop trusting, and refuse to take risks for fear of having our hearts broken again.
We make it personal, go bat shit crazy, and judge every love interests based on what the dirtbags before them did to us.
Let them stand on their merit, you say?
Nah, we can’t allow that.
They’re all bad until they show us otherwise, but they can’t show us otherwise because we’ve already judged them all as bad.
Again, a topic for another post.
BUSTING THE REJECTION MYTH BECAUSE WE SHOULDN’T TAKE IT SO PERSONALLY
Remember, at the beginning when I asked if we should take rejection in romantic relationships so personally?
I wanted to give you something to think about to prepare you for this section.
I’m not saying that rejection doesn’t hurt, or that the pain that you feel when you’ve been rejected isn’t real.
I could never say that because I’ve felt it on more than one occasion.
What I’m saying is that rejection isn’t necessarily a measure of one’s worth, flaws, lovability, etc. but rather, it’s a matter of fit.
Just because you’re not compatible with someone doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with you. What it means is that the person who rejected you isn’t the right one for you.
When someone rejects us, our first inclination is to take it personally. We go inward and think in terms of what it is about us that caused the object of our affection to not choose us.
We don’t realize that the person who rejected us just handed us a gift.
Something that we can capitalize on─freedom and the ability to be available for the right match.
That is, if we’ve worked on seeing rejection for what it is, and don’t allow it to affect our self-esteem.
And how exactly can we do that, you ask?
STRATEGIES FOR OVERCOMING REJECTION AND BUILDING SELF-ESTEEM
So, this is where I tell you how to bust the rejection myth and start to build resilience and healthy self-esteem.
It can be done, but not without a dedicated commitment to yourself.
Changes in behavior patterns and core beliefs that don’t serve us well require that we love ourselves enough to want those changes for us.
If you feel you have issues loving yourself, please read my post on self-love before trying to apply these other strategies:
It’s the first place you’ll want to go to when you experience romantic rejection.
Instead of focusing on your perceived flaws, labeling yourself a loser, and comparing yourself to whoever is in the other person’s life, make a list of what you bring to the table in romantic relationships.
Loyalty, honesty, fidelity, great lover…whatever makes you stand out. This exercise will help to rebuild your sense of self-worth.
I did this exercise after a painful breakup and walked away with an attitude of, “Oh, well! His loss,” and feeling great.
2. Daily Affirmations.
If you have low self-esteem it’s going to take a while before you can affirm big things. “I’m powerful” isn’t as effective as “I will become powerful,” to someone who doesn’t believe in themselves.
For affirmations to work, you have to silence your inner critic and replace negative self-talk (like self-criticism) with positive self-talk.
It took a lot of repetition of negative words and feedback to crush your self-esteem. It’s going to take a lot of repetition of positive words and feedback to build healthy and resilient self-esteem, so you have to stay with it.
Please message me if you need specific affirmations. I’ll be more than glad to customize some for you.
3. Practice Self-compassion.
Dr. Kristin Neff defines self-compassion as having the same level of compassion for yourself that you would for someone else who is suffering.
She states, “Self-compassion entails being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism.”
The three elements of self-compassion can be found here.
4. Don’t be afraid to seek the help of a therapist or life coach.
Overcoming deep-rooted rejection and self-esteem issues will sometimes require the help of a therapist or life coach.
As a life coach and someone who has had to work hard to overcome these issues, I recommend you start with a therapist.
If the foundation for the issues was established in childhood, you may have to go deeper than a coach is trained to go.
The pain of rejection is real, but it’s not personal.
Unless we’re total douche bags, it isn’t about our shortcomings, flaws, or anything that we could’ve done differently.
It’s about mismatches, and about the fact that the person rejecting us isn’t meant for us.
We can remain miserable after rejection, and allow it to hold us back in all areas of our lives, or use it as a catalyst to launch us to bigger and better relationships.
It’s our choice.
I’m a firm believer that the things that belong to us, will always make their way back to us.
And if they don’t, they were never ours, to begin with.
So, let’s give our self-esteem a break because the reality of the matter is that rejection isn’t really that personal.
CALL TO ACTION
I would love to hear from you on this and other issues, so leave your comments.
What you have to say is important to me.
Much love and peace,