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  • Writer's pictureAnda Bolojan

How to Overcome Your Fear of Rejection

Many of us have a fear of rejection and tend to avoid rejection by all means. Being rejected, and feeling rejected, is one of the most painful experiences most of us go through at some point in our lives. It makes us feel like a failure, judged, and not accepted by the people we care about.

Avoiding rejection, however, does come at a great cost. It can limit you from reaching your goals in many areas of life. Think about it – you could have written a book, but you didn’t because you fear people will not buy your book. You could have landed a business deal, but it failed because you were too nervous and thought, “What if they do not like me or my ideas?”

In this article, you will learn what the fear of rejection actually is, where it comes from, how it affects your personality, and most importantly, how to use the power of the mind to finally overcome it. Let’s dive into it.

Fear of rejection

1. What Is Fear Of Rejection?

The fear of rejection name is Anthropophobia. It is being afraid of unacceptance by the people around you. It could be you are scared of people not accepting your appearance, behaviors, the way you speak, or even your presence.

In real-life, being scared of rejection could look like this:

‘I am going to talk to my manager today and see if she is willing to raise my salary. Oh, but James has better results than me. What if my manager does not think I deserve the raise? What if I cannot convince her? I should just keep this to myself…’

When you have a fear of rejection, you may also engage in a number of behaviors that are focused on either covering up or compensating for this fear. These may include:

Lack of Authenticity

Many people who are afraid of rejection develop a carefully monitored and scripted way of life. Fearing that you will be rejected if you show your true self to the world, you may live life behind a mask. This can make you seem inauthentic to others and may cause a rigid unwillingness to embrace life’s challenges.


Although it is natural to want to take care of those we love, if you fear rejection you might find it impossible to say no, even when saying yes causes major inconveniences or hardships in your own life. At the extreme, people-pleasing sometimes turns into enabling the bad behaviors of others.


People with a fear of rejection often go out of their way to avoid confrontations. You might refuse to ask for what you want or speak up for what you need. A common tendency is to try to simply shut down your own needs or pretend that they don’t matter. Hanging onto the status quo feels safe, even if you are not happy with your current situation.


Uncomfortable showing off their true selves but unable to entirely shut out their own needs, many people who fear rejection end up behaving in passive-aggressive ways. You might procrastinate, "forget" to keep promises, complain, and work inefficiently on the projects that you take on.

2. Why do Humans Fear Rejection?

Have you ever wondered where fear of rejection comes from, and why is it so strong?

It turns out that this fear is deeply ingrained in our minds because, evolutionarily speaking, it used to help us survive.

An evolutionary survival mechanism

Our need to belong and be accepted is rooted in human evolution. Thousands of years ago, it took an entire village to work together in order to survive in harsh conditions. Humans needed to be a part of a tribe to survive. If a person was socially rejected or kicked out of the village, they would die alone in the wild.

Although we do not live in dangerous environments anymore, our minds still associate rejection with death.

The reality is, rejection will not cause us death in this time and age. However, it still can bring forward feelings associated with the fear of dying.

According to the way the mind works, what we say and imagine in our minds influences how we feel. Whenever rejection happens, the mind instantly thinks, ‘I am going to die of shame if they reject me’ or create images of you dying in shame. This is one of the main reasons why the possibility of being rejected can stir various negative emotions and prevent you from acting on your goals.

We are built to avoid pain

If you have touched a boiling kettle by accident before, you will most likely never repeat the same mistake again. From a young age, we learn to avoid pain to survive. For every painful experience, our mind remembers the pain and fires alarms whenever we face a similar situation. It will tell you ‘Do not touch that boiling kettle’ when you see one again.

Similar to avoiding physical pain, humans would take any necessary measures to avoid the emotional pain associated with being rejected. In fact, a study by Naomi Eisenberger, a social psychologist, showed that rejection triggers the same brain regions that physical pain does. This means we avoid rejection just as we would avoid touching a boiling kettle.

Even though rejection causes us pain and discomfort, it does not harm us physically. It is a temporary emotion that comes and goes. If you choose to take action in spite of the fear, it will shrink in size, and you will become less afraid of rejection over time.

We tend to be risk-averse

Imagine this scenario: a friend offers to flip a coin and give you $20 if it lands on tails. If it lands on heads, you give them $20. Would you take that risk?

You would probably consider taking the risk if you were sure you would win. This tendency reflects risk aversion — reluctance to take risks unless the payoff is certain.

In the context of potentially experiencing fear of rejection, we are reluctant to risk our ‘lives’ being rejected by others because we are unsure of what people think of us. If we are sure we will not get rejected, most likely we would be brave enough to take action.

You see, life is unpredictable and risks are bound to appear in every decision. It may feel scary to risk yourself being rejected, but taking risks is part of the journey towards success. If you are not willing to take risks, you cannot get anywhere.

3. How To Overcome The Fear Of Rejection

It is possible to learn how to handle rejection by taking the time to reflect on your experiences, think about how you approach them, and work out what you can take away from each experience to help you when facing future problematic situations.

Reframe rejection as opportunities

For every rejection you experience, there is a redirection to a different opportunity yet unknown to you. Whether you are rejected by an interviewer or a love interest, a new door is opened for you at the same time, leading you towards other opportunities.

Whenever you face rejection, remind yourself, ‘I am not rejected, I am redirected to something greater.’

Talk to yourself like a dear friend

Do not beat yourself up when things do not work out as you have planned. Treat yourself kinder and shower yourself with praises as if you are cheering a dear friend.

Rather than allowing negative self-talk to happen, talk to yourself using more compassionate, affirming messages such as, ‘I have what I need to get through this,’ or ‘I am stronger than I think.’

Refuse to let rejection define you

Being rejected does not mean you are a failure. If one company turns you down, do not think that you are incompetent. If one person rejects you, do not think that you are unlovable.

Other people’s opinions and incidents do not define you. The only person who can define you is you alone. An effective way to do this is to praise yourself daily and boost your self-esteem. The higher self-esteem you have, the more resilience you will develop against rejection.

Final word

We know that every step of the above sounds easier than it might be. But the truth is that every rejection, every failure, and every letdown is a chance to improve, regroup, and try again for opportunities that are much better fitting for us than the ones that did not work out in the first place.

The greatest successes will be the first to tell you that they would not be the people they are today without having to face rejection. Sometimes, what we learn from it ends up ultimately making us a stronger, wiser, kinder, and greater version of ourselves.


More Resources On This Topic


  • Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? - Julie Smith

  • Rejection Proof - Jia Jang

  • 10,000 Nos - Matthew Del Negro



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