Everyone will experience a fear of rejection at some point in their lives. This could be in regard to a love interest, a job interview, or even plans with a friend; no one wants to feel denied or stood up. But how can we overcome this fear of rejection?
To overcome a fear of rejection it’s important to change our ideas about rejection in the first place. We can also gradually expose ourselves to the experience of rejection until we feel more comfortable with it. Anxiety supplements can help to ease this process and make it less uncomfortable.
Regardless of what form your fear of rejection takes, it’s something that can be overcome.
This article is going to be extremely thorough. Read all the way through and you’ll gain a complete understanding of the fear of rejection and how to overcome it!
What is Rejection?
Since you’ve landed on this page, you’re probably looking for answers about one specific type of rejection. After all, there are so many different opportunities to experience rejection:
- Rejection when trying to approach or speak with someone you’re attracted to
- Rejection from a girl when asking for a date
- Rejected for a job that you applied for
- Rejected when trying to cold-call or close a sale at work
- Stood up or flaked on by a friend you tried to make plans with
- Being “left on read” after sending a text
- Any other variation of being rejected, denied, or ignored
As you can see, there are many different forms of rejection.
Since I suspect many guys will be here due to a fear of being rejected by women, I’ll include a special section at the end just for them.
For everyone else, fear of rejection is fairly universal in nature. Regardless of what kind of rejection you’re fearing, this article will help you overcome it!
How Overcoming Fear of Rejection Can Improve Your Life
All too often, anxiety tries convincing us to give up the fight before it even begins. Many of you may be wondering, “Why do I even need to overcome my fear of rejection? Is it really necessary? Can’t I just avoid those uncomfortable situations?”
Anxiety likes to act as the little voice in our head screaming: AVOID. AVOID. AVOID.
Unfortunately, avoidance is a terrible strategy for coping with anxiety.
Not only does avoidance reinforce and strengthen our fears in the long-term, it also shrinks our comfort zone. For overcoming fear of rejection, it’s crucial to take small steps whenever possible. Slight discomfort (growth zone) in the short-term is a small price to pay for eliminating our fear entirely in the long-term.
Stepping outside of our comfort zone is essential for overcoming fear of rejection.
Any time we are doing something that makes us uncomfortable or anxious, it helps to remember why we are doing so in the first place. Obviously, there must be a significant potential pay-off or we wouldn’t even be thinking about it to begin with.
So, what is your reason why?
- The potential to meet the romantic partner of your dreams?
- The possibility of a new job, raise, or promotion?
- A fun opportunity to strengthen your relationship with an acquaintance?
- The chance to close a massive sale or deal at work?
Everyone’s motivations will differ, but we all have a reason to go for it. No one enjoys the feeling of rejection; instead, hone in on the upside.
Remember why you are considering facing these fears in the first place.
Think of everything you stand to gain, and how overcoming fear of rejection can improve your life.
Why do we Fear Rejection in the First Place?
If you haven’t already, I highly recommend checking out our complete article explaining exactly what anxiety is and why we feel it.
If you don’t have time for that, I’ll give you a quick rundown.
Basically, anxiety is our brain’s ancient threat-detection system. It’s a tool that has been shaped by millions of years of evolution to help keep us alive. Like a smoke detector, our anxiety kicks in when the brain detects something that could pose a threat to our survival or well-being. It tells our body when it’s time to fight or flee from a potentially dangerous situation.
Unfortunately, our brains evolved into their current shape about 35,000 to 100,000 years ago; in a totally different environment than the modern one we live in today. Because of this, the little “smoke detector” in our brain is constantly on the lookout for threats that no longer exist.
One such threat is the perceived risk of rejection.
100,000 years ago, rejection could quite literally mean the difference between life and death. If someone were rejected, or cast out from the tribe, they would be cut off from essential resources and left to fend for themselves in the wild. Even being romantically rejected may have posed a risk, as smaller tribes may offer limited options for reproduction.
Back then, the fear of rejection was quite rational, as it posed significant risk to safety and well-being. Nowadays, this fear becomes just as irrational as other phobias like public speaking.
But What About the More Rational Reasons to Fear Rejection?
Of course, even today, there are still some rational reasons to feel anxious about rejection.
These rational reasons can be demonstrated well by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs demonstrates the order in which we, as humans, attempt to fulfill our needs. We start with the basic needs for survival and comfort. Once those are met, we gradually seek to fulfill our psychological needs. With those met, often later in life, we are finally able to pursue our subjective sense of self-fulfillment.
Sometimes, our fear of rejection can be linked to these needs:
- Fear of being turned down for a job that would provide money for food and shelter
- Fear of being rejected by a girl and being alone or feeling unloved
- Anxiety about being stood up by friends or excluded from the group
While these concerns can have some validity, they remain irrational for a simple reason.
The fact is, we often stand to lose more from inaction than we would from failure or rejection.
As we discussed earlier, this is why it is always important to remember what you stand to gain through decisive action.
Now that we understand how irrational the fear of rejection can be, let’s talk about overcoming your fear of rejection.
Step 1. Change Your Perspective
Don’t View it as Rejection
The toughest thing about rejection is probably the word itself; the label we give it.
It’s a cold and ugly word that stirs social anxiety in even the most confident of us.
Oddly enough, our fixation on the concept of “being rejected” makes it even scarier.
For this reason, when overcoming fear of rejection, we need to completely change our perspective on rejection itself.
Were you really “rejected,” or did things just not work out exactly how you had hoped? Were you cast aside, laughed at, mocked, and bullied? Or did you just not really have great chemistry with that girl at the bar?
The way we perceive the outcome of our actions matters.
Rather than feeling that something bad has happened or will happen TO you, consider it a successful learning opportunity.
- Did you ask for a phone number before actually getting to know a girl well enough to ask?
- Did you really do everything possible to prepare for and crush that job interview?
- Could you have found a better compromise that would have closed that sale or deal?
Rejection ≠ Failure
Do not allow yourself to feel victimized whenever things don’t go according to plan.
Rejection is not failure. Rejection is an opportunity to learn, improve, and grow.
It Isn’t Always Personal; You Don’t Know Someone Else’s Personal Life
Here is a simple fact that nearly everyone forgets with regard to their fear of rejection:
You simply do not and can not know all the details of someone else’s personal life. This could be a girl at a bar, a sales prospect, an employer, or even a friend.
People who have been rejected tend to take it to heart and take it personally. The fact is, it isn’t always personal. To illustrate my point, here’s a list of reasons why a woman might “reject” a man at a bar:
- She is in a relationship
- She just got out of a relationship
- She simply isn’t looking to date right now
- It’s “girls’ night” and she wants to be with her friends
- She just wants to dance and doesn’t want to talk to strangers
- She’s not attracted to or interested in men at all
- 5 men have already approached her in the past 10 minutes and she’s annoyed
- She isn’t feeling well
- She is going through something family-related, health-related, etc.
Ultimately a woman does not need an excuse to reject a man, but I hope my point here is clear. There are a ton of reasons why a person might reject someone else, and those reasons are not always personal.
This same fact can be applied to a sales prospect, job interviewer, employer, friend, etc.
People have things going on in their own lives that will impact how they interact with you.
“Being rejected” does not always indicate some vital flaw in your own approach or character.
Don’t take it too personally.
You Can’t be Everyone’s Type
While oftentimes rejection is nothing personal, sometimes it is. And that’s okay too!
Sometimes we’re going to be rejected with the simple fact being that we’re not a good fit.
When this is the case, it’s important we don’t allow rejection to damage our sense of self-worth, value, or confidence. Using our previous scenario, here are some (more personal) reasons why a girl might reject someone at a bar:
- The man trying to talk to her looks too much like her ex, brother, father, etc.
- She prefers men of a different ethnicity
- She prefers men with a different body type
- He has light/dark hair and she prefers the opposite
- She prefers men with a different sense of style
- He is too nice/mean/quiet/loud for her
- She prefers men of a different age
- The chemistry just isn’t there
Notice how none of these reasons involve the rejected man being inadequate as a person.
A man can be rejected without the reason being that he is unattractive, uninteresting, unintelligent, or unworthy of love.
This same general concept can be applied to any other situation involving rejection:
- You could be a fantastic salesman selling something the client simply doesn’t want.
- You could ace the job interview but someone else is just a better fit for the job.
- Your friend could love you and just not be interested in the plans you suggested.
Sometimes we’re going to be rejected because it’s just not a good fit. It’s important to learn to be okay with that.
"You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches."
Step 2. Exposure to Rejection Anxiety
Up until now, we’ve discussed a lot of theory without much practice. Now it’s time to act on what we’ve learned.
When overcoming fear of rejection, the best way to beat our fear long-term is through exposure to it. If you haven’t already, I suggest giving our article on exposure therapy a read.
There are two routes we can take for overcoming fear of rejection through exposure therapy:
- Gradual Exposure Therapy
Flooding effectively means throwing ourselves right into it. In other words, actively seeking rejection head-on. Bite the bullet and allow yourself to be rejected over and over again until the fear is extinguished. Obviously, this is not for the faint of heart; it would probably feel quite embarrassing at first. Ultimately, this is probably the quickest way to overcome a fear of rejection.
Gradual exposure therapy, on the other hand, takes a slower and gentler approach. This would involve slowly immunizing yourself to your fears by taking calculated steps outside of your comfort zone over time. It might look something like this (working from the bottom up):
If you’re really feeling brave, you could even try to put yourself in a position to be rejected. This may sound counterintuitive, but it might help you unlearn the fear of rejection even faster.
Feel free to modify these steps so they make sense for your own situation. I recommend pushing yourself as much as you can without giving yourself a full-on panic attack.
Step 3. Other Tools for Overcoming Fear of Rejection
Pro-Social Anxiety Supplements
Feel free to utilize stress or anxiety supplements if you feel they can help you in overcoming fear of rejection. There is no shame in using these tools from time to time, as long as we don’t become overly reliant on them.
Check here for a full list of recommended pro-social stress supplements.
These supplements can pair well with exposure therapy, especially if they help us to take steps we might not have without them.
Psychotherapy or talk therapy is always a good option when dealing with any kind of anxiety. A therapist can help you talk through and work through your fears, worries, and anxieties. Like supplements, this kind of support system can be an effective addition to everything else we’ve discussed here.
Best of all, it’s now easy and affordable to receive psychotherapy online.
Check out this page for my current recommended online therapy options.
What do I do if I’m Rejected by Every Girl?
At this point you should be well equipped to deal with any rejection anxiety you may be experiencing. Still, I wanted to take a minute to address a specific question that many young guys seem to have.
Dating is a topic I swore I’d never touch; I find most content from “online dating experts” to be extremely cringe-worthy. But for you guys, I’m going to put my “big brother” hat on for a moment to pass down some basic dating advice.
A lot of (mostly young) guys ask, what do I do if I’m rejected by every girl?
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Everyone Gets Rejected – First off, everyone experiences rejection from time to time. Imagine the most attractive, confident person you know… They’ve been rejected, I promise. Anyone who claims to have never been rejected is either lying or has shown 0 risk-taking initiative in their life. Not to toot my own horn but I do pretty well with the ladies (toot toot); and yes, I get “rejected” from time to time as well. Being rejected by a girl (or guy) has no bearing on your value as a person. Everyone gets rejected.
Nobody Owes You Anything – Some people feel overly sensitive about rejection due to an internalized sense of entitlement. Consider whether or not this may be a possibility for you. If it is, you’ll need to readjust your mindset. While dating and meeting women, remember that nobody owes you anything. This may sound harsh, but it’s a helpful reality to accept if you ever want to be successful in dating. If sparks fly, great. If not, you find someone else. After being rejected by a girl it’s important to move on rather than dwelling on it or feeling resentment.
Consider What the Problem is – If you truly feel that you’re being rejected by every girl, you might consider investigating what the problem is. Are you talking to girls who are really right for you? Are your social skills, physical appearance, or sense of style up to par? Of course, you should always be true to yourself, but there’s nothing wrong with a little self-improvement. Be open to learning, growing, and improving yourself over time; you’ll likely find that your options open up a bit.
Be Direct with Your Intentions – Many men make the mistake of being indirect with their intentions. This is how men end up in the dreaded “friend zone.” Hanging out and being friendly with a woman does not inherently lead to a romantic relationship. Be direct with your intentions always, whether they are sexual, romantic, or otherwise. This kind of forwardness may be uncomfortable upfront, but can save you a world of hurt in the long-run.