One of the most debilitating fears we experience as human beings is our fear of rejection. We fear that:
- We won’t be liked.
- We’ll be told “no” when we ask another person on a date.
- Our ideas will be rejected.
- We won’t make the sale.
- We won’t get the raise (or promotion) we requested.
- And a myriad other fears that all elicit the feeling of rejection.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way.
Getting ahead of the curve
While solving a problem is a worthwhile endeavor, I prefer to get ahead of the curve and avoid the problem altogether. How can we apply that to rejection?
The key is to become indifferent to the outcome. The only reason that rejection hurts is that we want a specific outcome too much. We don’t realize that a “no” is often the more positive result. Here are some examples:
Example 1 - Being liked
I want to be liked, who doesn’t? But it doesn’t trouble me if someone doesn’t like me and would prefer not to be in my company. I have no illusions that my style and personality are going to be appealing to everyone I meet. So why would the fact that they don’t like me, trouble me? Their feelings and attitudes toward me aren’t going to keep me from achieving whatever I desire.
Example 2 - Making a sale
In the pricing work I do with clients I help them identify who their ideal customer is. Why? So that they can determine with whom they want to work and who to let go. This approach not only gives them a sense of control over their destiny, it dramatically increases their confidence.
My clients come to realize that neither they nor their potential customers are going to be successful unless there is congruity between their values. Absent that congruity, they won't be successful working together and, in all likelihood, will frustrate the bejabbers out of one another. Interestingly, when they agree that it isn’t a good fit, each likes the other better and mutual respect develops.
Example 3 - Amore’
At one time or another each of us has been attracted, romantically, to another person. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that this is “the person for me.” We rush to that judgment without having gotten to know the person. Our reaction is both emotionally and biologically triggered. While these are powerful and pleasant feelings, they hardly form the foundation of a successful long-term relationship.
Take if from someone who’ll celebrate his 44th wedding anniversary in a few months, it’s not love until it has stood the test of time. Love will be tested many times, but each time you pass the test your relationship grows stronger, your love deeper and your joy more intense.
Retraining your mind
When you feel yourself experiencing the fear of rejection, remind yourself that you’re caring too much about the outcome…that a “no” could be the best result you could get. Who among us hasn’t been hit with an unwelcome event, only to find later that it was the best thing that could have happened to us. Remind yourself of these experiences and you’ll find it easier to avoid caring about the outcome.
For our kids
Teach your kids not to care too much about the outcome. You can “teach” them by walking the talk. Kids emulate the behaviors of the adults in their lives…especially when they see that it works well.
You can teach them by reminding them that a mistake can always be corrected, that a slight can always be remedied, that a broken relationship can be rekindled. In doing so you’re helping them retrain their minds…helping them develop a mindset that they have the power to “fix” any problem they create. Is there any more powerful lesson we can teach our kids?
Our kids will avoid the fear of rejection when they learn to let go of the outcome…when they are no longer encumbered by concern over whether or not someone likes them.