How Overcoming Fear Of Rejection Can Change Your Life

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated April 30, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Rejection is something that everyone deals with occasionally. Whether you’re turned down for a date, passed over for a promotion, or left out when all your friends get together without you, rejection can be a natural part of life. Some rejections are small, but others can be devastating. Those who are afraid of rejection may hold themselves back from doing the things they want to do in life. Read on to learn more about how you can overcome these feelings and how doing so may help you live a more fulfilling life. 

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Overcome your fears of rejection with therapy

Examples of rejection

There are many types of rejection, and they can all be painful, but you may have a stronger reaction to one type of rejection over another, depending on various circumstances. 

Relationship rejection

When it comes to rejection, many people think of romantic relationships. In this context, rejection can happen in many ways, including the following:

  • Rejection from a stranger: This type of rejection happens when you match with someone on a dating app (or meet them organically), decide to ask them out, and they say no to your offer for a date.
  • Rejection early in a relationship: You may have been on a few dates with someone and think it’s all going well, but then they break it off with you or ghost you for seemingly no reason. 
  • Rejection from a spouse or long-term partner: This type of romantic relationship rejection is often the most difficult to overcome because you may have dedicated a large part of your life to the other person, and they likely know you well. Sometimes, both parties mutually agree that the relationship is over, but this is not always true. Having your long-term partner end a relationship in which you were happy or thought everything was fine can leave you blindsided and heartbroken. 

Romantic relationships are not the only ones that can lead to rejection. For many, social rejection in other relationships may be even more challenging to cope with. These could include:

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  • Rejection from your social circle: Sometimes, a group of friends may decide that they no longer want to include someone. There are many reasons for this, but regardless of the explanation, not being invited to a party, vacation, night out, or shopping trip when everyone else in your group is can be hard to cope with.

Professional or academic rejection

Whether you’re just getting your professional life started or have been trying to advance in your career for quite some time, rejection at school or work can be difficult to get over. Here are some ways you might experience rejection professionally or academically:

  • Rejection from a university or college: If you have your future planned out and it all hinges on getting into a particular program, a rejection letter may make you question everything. Likewise, not getting into your dream college can be devastating, especially if you don’t have another school in mind you’d like to attend.
  • Rejection after a job interview: Getting turned down for a job you really wanted can be painful, especially if you felt the interview went well. 
  • Rejection for a promotion: If you were hoping for a promotion and are passed over for someone else, it may make you feel like you wasted your time at the company. Or you might feel as if you’re lacking in some area, which can negatively be a blow to your self-esteem. Some individuals may even start to question their entire career if they aren’t as far along as they believe they should be. 

How fear of rejection can affect your life

If you fear rejection, it can stop you from doing what you want to in life. When you are rejected, you may feel like you’re not good enough, which can cause significant anxiety or depression, prevent you from taking chances, and might even become a self-fulfilling prophecy. To understand more, let’s look at some of the examples mentioned above.

When it comes to rejection in romantic relationships, it can be easy to get discouraged, lose self-confidence, and start to believe that you might never find someone. Research shows that dating apps may cultivate a rejection mindset, leading to problems before you even meet someone. However, if you constantly try to avoid rejection, you may be unwilling to keep trying, which is also unlikely to lead to finding a decent, loving partner. 

Rejection from friends can run along similar lines. While being rejected from your friend group or having a close friend ghost you can be extremely painful, if you let the fear of rejection get to you, it may affect other friendships or prevent you from making new ones. If you find yourself without any friends, you might attribute it to some flaw of yours rather than recognizing that your fears are keeping you from forming genuine connections with other people.

Fear of rejection can also affect your educational pursuits and career path. If you get rejected from your first-choice school, will you let fear or rejection prevent you from applying elsewhere? Does being passed up for a promotion mean that you won’t try to advance your career again in the future? By giving up at the first sign of rejection and failing to try again, you may only be setting yourself up for more sadness and dissatisfaction with your life.

How to overcome fear of rejection

Overcoming a fear of rejection can boost your self-esteem and help ensure you meet your own needs by continuing to strive for what you want out of life. Although this is often easier said than done, it is possible to put your fears behind you and look ahead toward what’s to come. Here are some strategies that may be helpful for overcoming your fear of rejection:

  • Avoid criticizing yourself: It can be easy to get down on yourself and try to figure out what you did wrong. While going over what happened can help you avoid problems in the future, try not to beat yourself up about it. It may be acceptable to think, “Maybe I could have answered that interview question a little better,” or, “Maybe I shouldn’t talk about that on a first date.” However, avoid thoughts like, “I’m such a loser!” or, “There’s something wrong with me!” Many people believe rejection is personal, but that’s not always true. It may be that another candidate was more qualified, or the person you went on a date with just wasn’t the right fit. Making a list of everything you think is wrong with yourself can be unproductive.
  • Affirm your self-worth: When dealing with rejection, it can be important to remind yourself what you have to offer instead of where you might fall short. Consider making a list of your positive qualities, whether they’re related to who you are as a person or how skilled you are at your job. Then, think about why these qualities make you valuable to others.
  • Find opportunities for growth: Be honest about the situation and determine what you can do to get a different result next time. What did you learn about yourself from the experience? What can you change to get an improved outcome next time? By looking for areas in which you can grow, you may be able to move closer to becoming the person you’d like to be.
  • Practice self-care:Self-care can help you manage stress more effectively, which can help you get into the right frame of mind when coping with rejection. Ensure you’re exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep. Take some time to participate in activities you enjoy and stay connected to friends and family members who are still an important part of your life. 
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Overcome your fears of rejection with therapy

  • Get help if you need it: Rejection is rarely easy, but healing from its psychological effects can help you move forward. If you’re having difficulty overcoming your fear of rejection on your own, talking to a therapist could be helpful. A therapist can address negative self-talk, teach you how to boost your self-esteem, and give you strategies to stay connected with other people rather than isolating yourself from them. 

Overcome your rejection fears with the help of an online therapist

If your fear of rejection is getting in the way of living your life or if you need help learning how to practice self-compassion and increase low self-esteem, speaking with an online therapist could help. Online therapy might be the right fit for you if you are uncomfortable with the idea of talking to a therapist face-to-face or if you’re looking for a more convenient way to get support. With online platforms like BetterHelp, you’ll get matched with a qualified professional who is there to help you, not to judge you. There’s no waiting list, no commute, and you can attend sessions right from the comfort of your own home. 

The efficacy of online therapy for rejection

Research shows that online treatment is just as effective as in-person therapy. For those experiencing a fear of rejection, whether a result of something like social anxiety disorder, shyness, or low self-esteem, online therapy could be beneficial. Research conducted by a team in Hong Kong found that internet-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) was effective in managing and treating the symptoms of social anxiety disorder. In fact, by the conclusion of the study, 73% of participants no longer met the diagnostic criteria for social anxiety disorder. CBT is a type of therapy that teaches individuals to form healthier thoughts, which often promotes more helpful behaviors. 

Takeaway

Rejection can be a natural part of life, but it doesn’t have to control the choices you make, how you live, or how you feel about your worth and abilities. When faced with rejection, it can be important to know how to cope with your emotions in a healthy way. Confiding in friends and family members, practicing self-care, and continuing to put yourself out there can all be instrumental in the healing process. If a fear of rejection has begun to affect your life negatively, connecting with a licensed online therapist could be worthwhile. Online therapy gives you the opportunity to receive support from a compassionate professional without needing to push the limits of what you’re comfortable with. Instead of meeting with your therapist face-to-face, which can be intimidating, you can chat with them from your home or anywhere else that feels right.

Is rejection negatively impacting you?
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