A few months back, I wrote an article in response to a blog post that had gone viral. Though I certainly wanted other views of this article to be shared and heard, what I did not expect was to have the tweet of my response article on the front page of google.
Even though a person hearing this may give responses like “Good for you!” This certainly wasn’t my initial reaction. My immediate reaction was more like::
“Oh my gosh, why did that have to be on the front page of yahoo? If they would’ve just posted my article then people would understand my perspective better!”
“Shit, a lot of people are going to see that – friends, family, old classmates, old coworkers, and ex-boyfriends. They might get the wrong impression and be mad.”
“What if [insert person’s name] sees it? They might be thinking I’m a hypocrite.”
My immediate thoughts are the classic reaction that many of us have: Rather than focus on the GOOD things that can come of it, we focus on the bad.
I’ve experienced this many times in personal relationships as well. Like, sharing a view that may be different from my friend or partner at the time. I don’t want to ruffle anyone’s “feathers” and cause a fight but I also don’t want to repress what is true for me just to please someone else. It’s not real, it’s not genuine – and all it does is prevent the relationship from becoming deeper, more meaningful, and more intimate.
So what is one to do when we find ourselves afraid of receiving rejection from others?
Realize and accept that this is a natural response.
Our natural reaction to fear rejection and criticism is not just psychological but primitive. It’s the fight or flight response in the works. As humans, our bodies are hardwired to either act or run away when we feel there may be danger. The interesting thing though is that in today’s modern world there isn’t much physical danger that we need to be concerned about. Therefore, the fight or flight response is triggered by our own thoughts. We begin to feel that any form of criticism or rejection is an attack – when it’s truly just a different view.
That being said, we not only have to take into consideration of our own fight or flight response, but the fight or flight response of OTHERS as well. In many cases (especially on the internet it seems) people begin get very offensive or defensive due to this fight or flight response. So if we stop and see their criticism for what it truly is (a mere primitive response rather than anything of real essence), then it is easier to let go of our rejection fears.
Stop to focus on you.
Because of this fight or flight response to attack, its only natural to get worked up over fears of rejection. Heart rate increases, we may begin to feel anxious or nervous, or we may not be able to sit still. During this time it is very important to stop and look within. Notice how you are feeling and what you are experiencing and ask yourself “What do I need right now in this moment?”
Find a healthy physical outlet to that energy.
The problem is that most people don’t do this part and because we don’t do this part, we may create arguments and tension in our relationships and/or cause ourselves a lot of unnecessary stress. The body doesn’t know that we are truly not in danger, so we have to find a way to let that energy out of the body. Go for a walk or run, lift weights, go kickboxing, dance, or do yoga. You might also want to get a massage, acupuncture, or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). This is actually why tapping techniques like EFT work – it focuses on the locations in the body that we store our emotions in reaction do this common fight or flight response. By tapping or putting pressure on the area it allows the body to release it.
After you find a way to let it out physically, find a way to nurture yourself as well. Journal, sing, paint, or make a craft. Take a bath with bath salts or read a good book. I’d also highly recommend doing some short informal meditations where you just focus on your breath and how you feel in your body as you do these activities.
Ultimately, the key thing to remember when you notice a lot of fear of rejection and/or criticism from others is to really stop and focus on you. Take care of yourself. Take the time to really love yourself, because nobody else can really love you better than you.