Psychology Says the Fear of Rejection Can Be a Source of Strength

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We all fear rejection and I get it, it makes sense.

Our ancestors had to stay together to survive. If someone was rejected, and became an outcast, that person would  have most likely died off if he was alone in the wilderness.

It has also been said that the human brain treats rejection in a similar way it process physical pain.

Rejection can really suck sometimes.

And it’s true, because I remember the days when I used to be a lost cause. In the 4th grade, I used to have anger issues, emotional problems, and ADHD (still have ADHD)

So whenever someone got me angry, I wouldn’t be able to control my anger and I would beat up anyone who annoyed me. (It felt like a blur of rage and I couldn’t think straight…and before I knew it, it was over)

And I didn’t want to be that kid who was known as the bully because deep down inside I didn’t want to hurt anyone.

But eventually I became an outcast, rejected by everyone. No one to talk to, no one to connect with, and no one to consider a friend for 4 or 5 years straight as a kid.

And the amount of pain, hatred, despair, depression, anger (at myself, at the world, and at God), and hopelessness was so overwhelming that I almost ended my own life.

But thankfully I was able convince myself that I am still way too young to end my life. I still have another chance to have a new life if I went to a high school where I knew absolutely no one. So I painfully waited until I graduated. (there was so much more to this story, but that’s another topic.)

Fear can create doubt if you don’t feel competent.

But when I first started high school, I still remember the fear I had about rejection. I absolutely did not want to be in the same situation I was in when I was in the 4th – 8th grade.

So I studied the popular kids and studied what made them so popular and I copied them. (I knew I was socially awkward because I haven’t had a conversation for 4 – 5 years…besides with myself)

But I found out that it was hard to act like them because I still had that fear inside of me whenever I talked with anyone.

I would ask or say to myself, “What if I sound dumb? What am I even doing? This isn’t who I am. What if they don’t even like me?”

And I began to let the fear control me from not taking action to improve myself. (I began to ask questions that made me doubt myself.)

Fear can control you IF you let it control you.

Then all of a sudden, a whole year passed by and I made some progress, but not enough. I didn’t want this fear to hinder my growth and stop me from obtaining my goals that I need in my life.

I began to embrace the fear and understand that it is necessary to have fear whenever you do anything that creates fear within you. (Making a change in your life is one example that creates fear)

You cannot block out fear and you have to understand that fear will always be there. It’s when you don’t let your fears stop you from taking action.

Trying to not numb yourself of fear is a bad idea.

But some of you might say, “Well can’t we numb ourselves so that we don’tfeel fear?”

Well yeah you can, but Brene Brown says that you can’t selectively numb emotions. In her TED talk she says when you try to numb fear, you actually numb all your emotions. (including happiness, and all the other good emotions)

And from my experience, when you become numb, you don’t feel anything. Nothing hurts you but nothing makes you happy. It feels like anything I do is meaningless and that nothing matters in life. (So I suggest you don’t numb yourself, it’s boring either way)

How does fear become a source of strength?

But you might be asking now, “I understand that we need to embrace fear because it will always be there. But how can the fear of rejection (or any kind of fear) be a source of strength?”

It becomes a source of strength, when you absolutely refuse to let your fears control you like you are some mindless puppet. Having courage, or strength, doesn’t mean you are fearless. It means having the strength to do what is necessary, in the face of fear.

You are more than some mindless puppet who lets your fear controls all your actions.

Instead of focusing on your fears and how afraid you are, you focus on performing the task at hand. (We are not completely ignoring the fear, you understand that it’s there but you don’t focus on it to make it worse.)

Example: Soldiers who go back for their wounded members during enemy gun fire show extreme courage. Even though they are afraid of dying, they still continue on in the face of death to save their fellow soldiers.

“Courage is simply the willingness to be afraid and act anyway.” – Dr. Robert Anthony

So be afraid, it’s okay. Just don’t let fear overwhelm you and make decisions for you.

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