“You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.”
~ Brené Brown
We’ve all experienced rejection, whether it was being picked last in gym class, when your crush asked out your bestie, not being included on the party invitation list, or even when you’re passed over for that promotion AGAIN. It never gets easier, and we often try to avoid rejection at all costs…but is that avoidance costing you too much?
Here are a few things to consider:
1. What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger (if you allow it).
While rejection can be painful, all of your experiences, good, bad, or otherwise, have grown and shaped you into the person that you are now. If your fear of future rejections causes you to isolate, you may lose out on the opportunity to make other meaningful relationships.
Begin by telling yourself at the beginning of a new relationship, “This is a new experience. I have learned from my past, and now I can apply what I’ve learned.” Try not to allow the past to dictate your future!
2. Examine the Source of Your Fear.
You’ve heard it said before that those who don’t understand the past are condemned to repeat it, and fear of rejection is no exception! By taking the time to honestly examine past rejections, you actually can reduce the intensity of your fear.
- What event (or series of events) led up to that rejection?
- What was your part? What role did others play?
- What can you learn from this experience?
- What changes do you want to make?
These are only a handful of questions to ask yourself to reexamine the source of your fears and face them head on.
3. Separate Facts from Fiction.
When you notice your fear of rejection creeping in, rather than ignore it, focus on and acknowledge the signs.
One of the quickest ways to fight fear is to bring facts into the battle.
- Is this person rejecting me?
- What evidence do I have to support my perception?
- What evidence contradicts my theory?
When flooded with emotions, our brains struggle to think rationally.
Take the time to decide if this fear is coming from a place of truth, or if it’s really your brain trying to play a trick on you.
If you’re unsure, talk with a trusted friend or family member who can be more objective. You may not always be able to prevent a future hurt, but you can learn a lot about yourself and the world around you in the process.
Laura Miller, LCSW – www.millerfamilytherapyinc.com
As humans, our brains are hard-wired for connection.
It is part of our adaptive survival system. We need others for love and belonging. Often, that need can feel stronger than the more basic needs of food and shelter.
So, why is dating so scary?
It is terrifying to think about putting yourself out there to be judged, chosen, or even experiencing the dreaded rejection.
Rejection is a painful and difficult emotion because it touches on our survival need for belonging.
Dating requires us to be vulnerable and open to possibilities. Brené Brown, the world’s top researcher on shame and vulnerability, tells us that being vulnerable really is the birthplace of love and connection.
Brené also says:
“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”
One of the most attractive qualities about any person is authenticity.
This doesn’t mean that you have to show every strength and flaw on your first date, but showing up as your authentic self is sexy.
Here are some tips:
- Build a foundation of who you are by making a list of your best and worst qualities. Strive for honesty with this list, not perfection.
- Anchor yourself to this foundation as you embark on meeting a new man. To know one’s self is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and your future partner. This doesn’t mean that you cannot be flexible and change. Maybe part of who you are is that you are adventurous and enjoy learning new things. There are likely some traits that are inherent in your personality and knowing these will help you make better decisions about who to date.
- Remember that being confident in who you are is attractive.
- Ask yourself what personality qualities you want in a romantic partner, rather than a check list of physical and financial qualities. Make these general things rather than specific ones. For example, “I would like a partner to be emotionally available, a good communicator, and have the ability to be insightful into his own behavior. Rather than, tall, dark hair, blue eyes and rich.
- Remember that not everyone is going to be compatible with you. We all don’t like the same flavor of ice cream. That is OK.
- Come to the date with armed with curiosity, honesty and authenticity. Most of all, show up as a human being. This is a romantic date, not a job interview. Allow yourself to enjoy getting to know someone. If the connection is there, it will flourish. If not, he was not your flavor of ice cream.
- It is better to show up as your authentic self and not have it work out than to show up with all your masks and guards up. Be yourself and don’t apologize. There is someone out there for everyone. It takes courage to go on dates to bring this person into your life.
Jennifer Weiler, LPC – www.expressionscounseling.com
The time has come. You are ready to commit to another person, hoping to attract the man of your dreams. You fear rejection, judgment, and if you will find what you are looking for.
Here’s the paradox: When we focus on attracting a partner, we start to lose our authentic and true self, but if we stay exactly who we are, how do we attract love without doing anything different?
What do you focus on while dating?
Let’s start with your focus while dating.
Are you focusing on finding a partner that can love you for exactly who you are, that sweat-pants wearing, no-make-up, occasionally a hot mess self, or are you changing yourself to fit into what you think the perfect man would desire or be attracted to?
If it is the latter, I fear that you have already set yourself up for failure.
Striving for perfectionism leads to rejections.
Think about that one guy, you know the guy you met and thought he was perfect.
As time went on, you realized that who he presented himself to be at the beginning is nothing like the person you know now after dating for some time.
Suddenly you realize, this is not going to work out, leading to a break up and more wasted time dating the wrong person.
What went wrong here?
He was not his authentic self from the start, so you were led to believe he was someone he was not.
Now go back to my original question about your focus while dating: when you are not authentic in who you are from the start, rejection is imminent.
Why set yourself up for failure by presenting yourself as the “ideal woman,” an ideal that there is no way to maintain for the long haul?
You are most attractive as your authentic and whole self.
Now, what if you shifted your focus while dating to the former: being totally authentic, honest, and real from the very beginning? Woah! Talk about vulnerability!
Think about some of your favorite people in your life, the kind of people you cannot help but to be friends with, smile with, and want to spend your time with. What is it about them that is so attractive?
That they can live in their whole and complete self with confidence and unapologetic authenticity.
People are without a doubt most beautiful when they can love themselves for exactly who they are, confident in their purpose and all that they uniquely bring to the table, living wholeheartedly pursuing whatever it is that lights up their soul.
Beauty does not come from forcing yourself to be someone you are not, desperately attracting any man that will date you even if you know you deserve better or you deserve more.
Own your worth and your truth!
- You are Beautiful.
- You are Strong.
- You are Enough.
- You are Worthy.
So why do we keep getting rejected or fail at dating?
This is a hard truth to hear: we set ourselves up for rejection when we are not true to ourselves and invite in men who do not value us for all parts of ourselves.
When we focus on fearing rejection and feverishly pursue a relationship without contentment in ourselves and confidence in our worth, we inevitably attract the very thing we fear most: rejection.
Ask yourself: Can you accept yourself in your truest form, flaws and all?
Until you can unequivocally answer this question with a “yes,” rejection and poor relationships will continue to riddle your life. It is impossible for someone to fully love you if you do not fully love yourself.
We are constantly told confidence is arrogance, leading to an inner voice that never relents, reminding us how deeply flawed and undeserving we are every day.
Ask yourself: would you ever talk to a friend or a child the way you talk to yourself?
No! So why is it that others deserve grace, kindness, and confidence but you do not?
Now is the time to do the work to silence that hurtful voice and own your confidence and worth.
When you become confident in who you are and what you offer, rejection suddenly fades to the background. You are no longer desperate to find any relationship, but rather take solace that the right relationship for you will come in its own perfect timing.
Own your truth.
So, how do we reclaim your confidence, self-worth, and contentedness with ourselves?
Maybe it is therapy or finding a life coach. Perhaps it is joining a group of strong and confident women at the gym or in your community.
Possibly you unfollow all people or groups on social media that make you feel anything less that complete joy and support while you scroll through your social media.
Whatever it is for you, do it!
You deserve to find love and be valued for exactly who you are.
When someone knows and accepts you, all parts of you, for exactly who you are, rejection loses all power.
Kimberly Murray, PhD, LMFT – www.safehavenfamilytherapy.com
The things we value the most are the things we are most scared of losing.
For me personally, connection is my number one value, which on the flip side also makes disconnection one of my biggest fears.
This is true for many people.
In the dating world, this can become problematic when the fear of disconnection or rejection impacts our willingness to date in the first place.
It often feels safer in the moment to avoid the fear and not risk feeling rejected.
I believe it is important to consider and ask yourself whether or not your actions or lack there of are moving you towards your values and what makes your life meaningful.
In terms of dating, this question may be framed as, “Does choosing not to date to avoid rejection move me closer to finding love and feeling more connected in my life?”.
One of the most famous baseball players of all time, Babe Ruth, once said, “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game”.
When we show up to hit the ball we may strike out, we may make it to a base, or we may hit a home run. There are many possibilities.
However, we will never know what could have been if we do not step up to the plate.
This quote encourages people to be brave and show up in their lives despite the fear of what the outcome may be.
The trick to overcoming fear is facing it.
Show up. Choosing to be brave and going on dates WILL increase the likelihood that you will get rejected, but it also opens you up to the possibility of hitting a grand slam.
Dani Parmacek, LPC, R-DMT – www.cityscapecounseling.com
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