When we receive a living being with loving care and attention it thrives. Nobody in their right mind would seek out suffering for the sake of suffering. Most of us fear rejection. We fear the thoughts of others, their emotions, their reactions. As a response some of us protect their frail self image with huge walls made of dishonesty and pretense. Such walls make it truly hard to feel human. They encourage separation, distrust and an unhealthy sort of competition. Whenever a crack appears on their surface, tears often come through it. In this article I would therefore like to explore the fear of rejection and contemplate the possibility of living beyond this fear.
Raised to Never Be or Have Enough
In many societies allover the world, it becomes increasingly important to be a someone that is able to be independent, strong, tough, able and healthy. You are supposed to be happy, healthy and motivated 24/7. When you are sad it means that there is something “wrong with you“. Thus we suppress many of the painful human emotions for the sake of achieving future success in a materialistic world. They seem out of place and simply reveal that we are too weak, too fragile, too sensitive and probably too human to have a right for happiness.
Our lives are regulated, taxed and our future is already planned. We are raised to perform, to out-perform and to win. We are raised not to question – the system of education dictates what kind of knowledge and values we feed our little ones. There’s not much room for creativity, kindness and human emotion – unless it’s encouraged by authorities. We are often scared by things that are different and foreign. Living in a society were we are supposed to function for the future surely has its benefits but one of the major downfalls is the lack of purpose, self-respect, depression and anxiety it creates. In my humble opinion these human ailments are simply symptoms of a world in which material gain outweighs spiritual knowledge. Individuals are sick because we learn to sacrifice this very moment of life on the altar of the future.
Competing for Love and Attention
Competition can be a great way of improving our life. It can freshen up the market and give space for creativity and human genius. When we learn however that our very self-worth depends on how we perform and what we have or do, competition can sometimes become a matter of life and death. We perform for the sake of being loved, acknowledged and received by other human beings as worthy and good. Competition in this way is devoid of usefulness – it’s serious, heavy and throws us off balance. Consequently what we do and who we are appear to be the same thing. What we have and how much we are worth often go together in this unhealthy scenario.
In this way we paralyze ourselves in order to avoid making mistakes. A “mistake” would be an action that leads to another being to perceive you as “bad” or “unworthy”. We wonder: “Should I have written the email differently? Why is there no answer yet? Does he not like me?” Our sense of being lovable or worthy of love thus depends on the reactions and opinions of other people. It’s no wonder that we keep seeking the approval and acknowledgement of our teachers, our friends, our colleagues – something as central as our self-worth is at stake. This is one of the reasons why using a lot of social media often makes you more unhappy. It’s all based on creating an image of yourself that others can “like” or “dislike”. So much potential for stress!
Rejection as an Opportunity
The fear of rejection is a big topic in my own life and I wish to overcome this habit for the sake of helping and inspiring those who are still stuck in it. It makes me feel that the majority of my life turns around the presumed thoughts of other people. We become a slave to the perceptions of others and ourselves. Can you imagine how much energy goes to waste when worrying about the thoughts of other people? I have decided to put an end to this habit. So far I found a few things that work really well.
I came to practice specifically with the aim of overcoming this habit because I get a sense of rejection quite often. Then I feel that another person doesn’t love me because of the way I am and because of the many mistakes I make. This feeling comes to visit me often and everyday – it makes my belly tight and tense thinking of possible ways I could experience rejection. So here’s what I do step by step.
Overcoming the Fear of Rejection
Feel it clearly! I really become mindful of the physical sensation of “I have messed up here – shouldn’t have said that!” etc. I feel my fear in the body and I can often locate it in my belly. It might be somewhere else for you.
Give it Space! Now relax around the location of your discomfort. Feel it as you breathe in, and become softer each time you breathe out. In my case I relax the belly more and more. I give the raging sensation of self-hate more and more space. Take time for this step.
ReLearn! When you are feeling more and more comfortable within yourself and begin to trust the spaciousness around and in between the physical sensations, introduce a few sentences that resonate with truth and let them have an impact. Here are a few sentences that work for me:
All human beings feel human emotions, therefore may we be happy and at ease, all of us. May we all be free from tension, stress and fear.
I forgive myself for habitually holding on to pain and I release my pain here and now. etc. (be creative)
The essence of this step is to learn the art of receiving yourself with kindness, friendliness and love – and this takes practice and repetition.
Stillness! Rest in silence, appreciating your presence. Receive whatever emotional state that’s there right now. Just feel the body, just hear the sounds around you. Just be here and allow the silence to charge you with fresh energy.
Impress Yourself – Practice for Results
From now on make it very clear that you are practicing for the sake of finding happiness within your own heart. Practice for the sake of liberation from stress and tension. It has to work for you. Your practice has to inspire respect within your own heart. We are not doing this to be “good girls and boys” in the eyes of authority figures. We are doing this for freedom, joy and kindness.
See if you can approach all areas in life with the attitude of someone that is free from the opinions of others and works for the sake of growing genuine kindness, relaxation and wisdom. If you feel that this article encourages you to discard the feelings and opinions of others you would be far off. I encourage you to do what’s genuine, sincere and good for the wellbeing of yourself and others. Do your absolute best! I encourage you to be aware of the self-destructive patterns of the fear of rejection though. It leads you far away from truth and deep into the abyss of dishonesty. You are not worthy of love because you do a lot of stuff, or because you have a lot of stuff. You simply are worthy of love because you are. And so is everyone else!
About The Author
Tobi Warzinek has been working as a spiritual guide and mentor since 2009. His journey started in early 2002 when he entered the Tibetan Buddhist monastery of Rabten Choeling. He spent approximately 7 years in the community and studied the Tibetan language, mind-training and various meditation methods. Additionally he trained in traditional monastic debate and Buddhist philosophy. In 2011 he subsequently began practicing within the “Forest Tradition” in Thailand. Altogether he has dedicated his life to the exploration and refinement of introspection throughout the past 18 years. You can connect with Tobi on his page or on facebook.
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