It is human nature to want to belong. Our very existence has always involved another. We recognize that creation requires connection, and that our expected end involves separation. We crave community, we seek solidarity and we enjoy moments of connectedness that remind us we are not alone. It is therefore no surprise that one of our greatest fears can be rejection.
Rejection is the moment we anticipated an embrace, and instead was met with a denial. It can leave us disoriented, isolated and quite frankly – deeply hurt. At some point, we have all tried to avoid it, because on some level we have all experienced it.
In simplistic terms, rejection can be defined as a “no”, a “not now” or a “never”. When you truly desire something, these can all be hard to hear. Although these responses are less than ideal, they have the potential to provoke powerful experiences. Yes, rejection can be powerful. Firstly, it begs us to ask the question why? Why not me? Such evaluation can confirm who you are, confirm who you are not, or confirm what you need to proceed. It can also highlight biases and factors beyond your control that can somewhat ease the sting of being denied.
Secondly, rejection can build resilience. It can be a catalyst for change in your trajectory, your perspective or your approach. A “no”, “not now” or “never” does not have to be the end of your pursuit. For example, that particular job opportunity may not be for you, but it does not mean you should leave that particular field altogether. Similarly, if a relationship does not work out, it should not mean you must give up on love entirely. Rejection has an interesting way of skewing your idea of your prospects for the future. However, rejection is an opportunity to reevaluate the situation or season, and work towards progressing to your “yes”.
The fear of rejection is informed by our deepest wants and the memory of our past hurts. Whether it was rejected ideas, love or skill sets, the sting of our most memorable “no” often colors what we say yes to. When dealing with this fear, we somehow convince ourselves that the potential pain of not being accepted is not even worth our efforts. In short, we settle. We settle for pain-free average experiences, instead of risking the possibility of rejection that isn’t guaranteed.
We have to have the courage to live beyond the “no”. A “no” does not have to be the end, and it can be the beginning of something greater than you envision. However living in fear of rejection can hinder you from learning your greatest lessons and experiencing your greatest joys. Every time you avoid going after what you believe you are called to do or be, you are reinforcing a fear that does not need to exist.
As you think about the ways fear of rejection impact your own life, consider this:
- We all crave community and connection, but reassurance of self worth cannot come from others.
- We have to make sure that we don’t allow the memory of our past hurts to hinder our future actions, skew how we see ourselves, or inform how we treat others.
- If you are told no, not now or never, list the ways in which you will cope, survive and ultimately thrive.
- Who’s report will you believe? Who’s truth do you hold onto? Be confident in your convictions. I constantly look at what I believe to be true. As a Christian, in times of rejection, I refer back to what God says about me and what God says He will do and has done for me.
Keep pushing for your yes, and keep combating fear.