Fear of rejection is perhaps the most pervasive fear tormenting humanity. Why do you think more people are afraid of public speaking than they are of death?
Most people spend their whole lives running from rejection, and it’s understandable. Rejection sucks.
But we all need to face it to live a meaningful life.
Most People Are Addicted to the Status Quo
In 2017, a study was done by the Institute for the Future to determine how often the average American thought about the future. Out of a survey of over 2,800 Americans, 53% reported that they rarely or never think about the far future, which the study defined as 30 years from today. 32% reported that it never crossed their mind at all, while 36% reported that they rarely or never think about where they will be even 10 years from now.
In other words, the majority of people are highly complacent. They don’t consider the long-term ramifications of their actions, much less dare to dream about a better world. At best, most people dismiss will any ideas or ambitions defy their status quo. At worst, they will perceive these ambitions as a threat.
This is one reason why rejection will come before (and with) any level of greatness. Any truly significant effort is going to face resistance from a lot of people, because most people are resistant to change. If nobody is rejecting you, that means you’re people-pleasing – acting however the person in front of you wants you to act so they’ll do what you want them to.
You can do this one-on-one, or you can do this as a lifestyle, going along with cultural norms that are just as empty as you feel. Or saying all the stuff you think will make you sound like a smart and reasonable, stuff some pundit said on the news that you well know will get absolutely no pushback if you repeat it, because it doesn’t really challenge anyone or anything.
That’s no way to live.
Every single hero in history faced massive rejection, because they were doing something worth doing. Even if they weren’t challenging the majority with their words, they were absolutely challenging the majority with their lives – with their boldness, sacrifice, and perspective. They challenged the status quo for everyone’s sake, and the majority often resented them for it.
Big people can remind you how small you are. That can be painful, especially if you’ve invested everything into convincing everyone (including yourself) that you’re a giant when you’re not even close.
And there’s a group of people that operates exactly that way. They’re called narcissists, and they’re the sworn enemies of real giants.
Narcissism is Nothing More than Extreme Rejection Avoidance
Narcissism is the ultimate expression of rejection avoidance.
Narcissists are just people who hate themselves so much that they create a false version of themselves that’s everything they wish they were. Their entire life is dedicated to protecting the reputation of this false self.
When a person lives their whole life like that, they get very good at the image game. Human culture is obsessed with image, and we reward it relentlessly. And because it prizes it over everything else, narcissists can climb pretty high up the ladder.
But this is a miserable way to live. For one thing, narcissists can’t ever let their guard down. All of their energy has to go towards protecting their image. As a result, they don’t have any energy to actually do anything productive, let alone enjoy life.
Meanwhile, anyone who can’t help them boost or maintain their status is worthless to them, or else a potential threat. This means that they can’t afford to focus on anything positive in anyone. They have to be relentlessly critical so that they can take out anybody who might shine brighter than them, steal their glory, or expose them. As a result, their inner world is deeply negative and unhappy.
Worst of all, they can’t know love.
Narcissists can’t experience someone else’s love, because whatever affection they could otherwise receive would go to their false self, the one they’re propping up as a barrier between themselves and others. To be loved, one must be known, and narcissists cannot allow that.
Of course, the narcissist has to completely dominate or control anyone close enough to know them, in order to ensure they never become a liability to the image they’ve cultivated to others on the outside. In essence, they emotionally manipulate and abuse their spouses and underlings until they either leave or become totally submissive.
We Need to Redefine Success
Narcissists may be an extreme example of what it looks like to hide from rejection. But they paint the picture of the price we all ultimately pay if we allow the fear of rejection to rule us. We may not all be narcissists in the clinical sense, but every time we people please, we’re engaging in the same manipulative and toxic behavior, just to a lesser extent. We try to control others, or we let ourselves be controlled.
By the way, I just described a massive portion of the “successful”.
There’s a lot of millionaires, celebrities, executives, and six-figure earners that live in that place. It’s actually shocking how many of the people we celebrate are just deeply wounded and insecure people that gave their whole life to never being rejected.
They’ve got everything our culture values, but they’re villains. And their life is hell.
Is that what you want?
To clarify, I’m not saying that things like money and fame are bad. Just the opposite – these are resources that you can leverage to do some real good. Not only that, they can make life more enjoyable. But only so much. To actually enjoy your life, you must reduce your fear and grow in peace and joy.
And guess what? To reach true peace and joy, sooner or later you must become a better person – someone honest, loving, and courageous.
This won’t necessarily make you more money or fame, but it will make life fulfilling and meaningful. Ultimately, that’s what we really want.
When you’re real and willing to love and be loved, you can be known. When you accept yourself, you can relax and find rest, letting go of toxic emotions like resentment, rage, and fear that are miserable to hold onto. Relationships become richer, and you become much more likely to attract healthy people who value you.
Moreover, being a truly good person certainly doesn’t exclude making a lot of money. In fact, in the long run, it can make you a lot more. Nobody wants to do business with people they can’t trust or depend on, and over time integrity is the best approach for having a good reputation.
When we acknowledge these things, we realize success is about transformation.
Instead of Hiding, Work on Yourself
Whatever my flaws (and I’m not short on these) I’ve never been good at being inauthentic. Though I tried once or twice, I was never capable of not being myself with others for very long. And anyway, I couldn’t lie to myself about what I was doing. Doing so felt especially dishonest and cowardly.
However, I was also a low functioning person with a lot more issues than I have now. I was routinely depressed, constantly worrying, and cripplingly insecure. This is a problem when you want to connect with other people, because nobody wants to hang around all that. So when I was myself with people, I got rejected a lot. Even when I didn’t get rejected, I was a drain on others, driving them away.
However, because I wasn’t good at lying to myself, I became more aware of what was wrong with me the more I tried to get out there in the world. It made me realize that I was the main barrier to fulfilling relationships and general life progression.
Since I couldn’t bring myself to start being fake, this left me with only one option. I needed to change – to be a healthier person.
This is part of what motivated me to pursue personal transformation with everything I had.
After spending tens of thousands of dollars and almost a decade trying different programs, churches, methods, and counseling, I finally discovered Root Work. It’s a process that helps reprogram your subconscious beliefs and incorporates a holistic approach to health and well-being, acknowledging the needs and interplay of your body, soul, and spirit.
I didn’t come up with it; I was shown the process by one of my mentors, Dr. Robin Perry Braun. She offered to train me in it, and I practiced it for hundreds of hours on myself and others. In that process, my inner world quickly and dramatically changed, and many of the people I worked with got life-changing breakthroughs.
My point is this: you can change, and the process doesn’t have to be overwhelming. If you embrace it, you may find it’s not nearly as scary as you thought it’d be.
Don’t get me wrong. This approach to life is more difficult in the short run than continuing to act like nothing is wrong, or going through the same easy motions that don’t require any responsibility and therefore don’t get any results. But it’s worth it to be at peace with yourself – to be capable of being real without fear.
People will still reject you, but you won’t care as much. Moreover, you’ll start attracting people who appreciate the real you, and those relationships will be much more rewarding than the ones where you were just a commodity.
This is the life strategy I recommend.
Thanks for Reading
I hope this was helpful and enjoyable. If you want to talk more about Root Work, send me a message and we’ll connect.