The Fear of Rejection

I don’t think there’s one person I know who hasn’t had the fear of rejection. Whether it’s in the form of romantic pursuits, taking exams, applying for a job, or from a friend, it can come in many forms. And feel pretty horrible too. The good news is that’s it’s human nature, so to feel it is not a failure.

The bad news? The fear of rejection can hold you back from taking risks and achieving goals. When in relation to social situations it can stop you from being your most authentic self (people-pleasers this is you!). The “chronic experience of rejection can be low self esteem, depression, loneliness, aggression, a heightened sensitivity to future rejection, and a tendency to be self-critical and self-rejecting, and then critical and rejecting of others in turn”₁.

Where the fear of rejection stems from

There are many experiences that may lead to a fear of rejection, some of the most prominent are:

Caveman times : Human’s are social beings. If you think back to caveman times we were a part of a community, and more importantly, our survival depended on being a part of that community. So evolutionary we developed a fear of being rejected from others.

Childhood : As with a lot of personal traits, a fear of rejection can stem from being rejected by our parents or parenting figures. This rejection may be in the form of outright hostility, neglect due to lack of interest or lack of parenting ability, or, more commonly, parents not understanding their child intuitively – not being ‘tuned-in’₁.

Other forms : Early traumatic experiences such as bullying, the loss of a parent, or having a physical disability may also lead to a fear of rejection. There are also adult life experiences that can foster a fear of rejection such as a job loss, not being financially stable enough, feeling not physically attractive enough and so on.

6 tips to overcome the fear of rejection

Remember it happens to everyone : Knowing you’re not the only one who feels the fear of rejection, and that it is a part of normal life, can be a huge comfort.
Validate your feelings : As with all feelings it’s important to acknowledge them. By acknowledging our feelings we can then start to address them.
Look for the learning opportunity : Although it may not feel it, rejection can provide opportunity. It may encourage you to better yourself in some way, be it through skills or qualifications, which then opens up different opportunities in the future.
Remind yourself of your worth : This can be hard, especially in a society where we’re meant to be ‘modest’. But if you do get rejected, try writing a paragraph or a few bullet points about what you like about yourself.
Explore your fear of rejection : Understanding where your fear of rejection stems from can help you address it. It may be as simple as not wanting to be lonely, but often you might have to dig a bit deeper. For this I’d always recommend speaking to a professional.
Spend time with your network : Spending time with your close friends can remind you that you are wanted. Also knowing there is support around you if you do fail will decrease the fear of rejection.

Do you fear rejection? If so I hope this article helped a little. If you’d like to talk more about this topic please feel free to drop me a line, or book a free consultation. Remember you’re not alone, I’m always happy to listen.

Love Emma x


  1. Mt Lawley Counselling Centre, 2022, Online :

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *