Are you afraid of rejection? It is completely natural.
“She’s just afraid of rejection.”
I was a bit uncomfortable where this conversation was going.
I think they were trying to be constructive – trying to explain away some of here more annoying insecurities by pinning them to some sort of psycho-babble.
And look, the fear of rejection is a thing, and it is a thing that can plague people’s lives. If people fear rejection then they can be very needy, or they can be very aloof. They can be weak and submissive or they can be controlling and dominating.
Humanity is wonderful like that. Our wounds can translate into such a myriad of different behavioural problems.
And the fear of rejection is definitely one of our more common wounds.
BUT… it doesn’t help to talk about it like it is some sort of irrational fear. We can’t talk about the fear of rejection the way we talk about a fear of clowns.
And we definitely can’t talk about it like it’s some sort of irrational thing that people should “just get over”.
The fear of rejection is entirely rational and is encoded into our DNA.
Think about it. Go back to when you were a young child – when much of our deepest programming was written.
When you were a child, rejection meant death. If your mother rejected you when you were a baby, you were dead. If the tribe rejected you when you were a small child, you were dead.
And that goes all the way into adulthood. It was possible for the adult human to survive in isolation from its tribe for a while, but probably not for long.
We are a herd species. We need our tribe.
And so for the great majority of our history – for most of the time that our genetic coding was being composed – our lives were governed by a simple truth:
Rejection = death.
And since rejection equals death, it makes complete sense that we’re afraid of it. It makes sense that we fear rejection the way we fear heights, fires, falling and things with sharp teeth.
It’s perfectly rational.
And so it’s just one of the things where our biology has been completely overtaken by the radical transformation in human society we’ve seen over the past couple millennia.
These days, rejection doesn’t necessarily equal death. Many people do survive just fine, completely isolated from the community around them.
It’s one of the wonders of the modern economy.
So maybe the fear or rejection doesn’t make sense in our current social context.
But that doesn’t matter. The fear of rejection is real and it is hardwired into your DNA.
I find that there can be a profound release in just acknowledging this fact. We keep thinking that we’re crazy because we’re afraid of being rejected, because we feel a terrible pain when we feel isolated, or because we invent and maintain a tangled web of strategies to ingratiate ourselves with others and save ourselves from rejection.
So much anxiety. So much energy.
But it is perfectly normal. It is perfectly natural.
So just be ok with it. Recognise that you hate rejection the way you hate the cold. It’s just something that comes with being human.
I think this is the first step in freeing yourself from the control it has over your life.