6 Traits of People Who Fear Rejection

Did you know there are at least six markers of someone who struggles with the Fear of Rejection? Here is a little self-assessment for those of us who struggle with the Fear of Rejection.

A word of caution! Read with the idea of gaining perspective that will help you grow. Please try to avoid beating yourself up if some of these feel a little close to home.

Phoniness: Many people who are afraid of rejection develop a carefully choreographed life. Fearing rejection, people will often live behind a mask. This type of angst can make an individual seem bogus and counterfeit to others and could cause a rigid unwillingness to learn from life’s challenges.

People pleasing: While it is entirely reasonable to take care of the people we love, those who fear rejection often go overboard. This type of people pleasing can lead to burnout. Worst case: People pleasing behaviors can turn into enabling the wrong actions of others.

Unassertiveness: Many individuals who fear rejection go out of their way to avoid confrontations. A common tendency for individuals who struggle with fear of rejection is to simply shoot down their needs or pretend their needs do not matter.

Passive aggressiveness: Uncomfortable showing off their true selves but unable to entirely shut down their needs, many people who fear rejection behave in passive-aggressive ways. They might “forget” to keep promises, complain, and work inefficiently on projects they take on.

Additionally, the fear of rejection often restrains a person from going after their dreams. Putting yourself out there is a frightening experience for anyone, but if you have a fear of rejection, you may feel immobilized, frozen in place. You may feel safer staying in the harbor than leaving for the open sea. If a person chooses to give in to the fear of rejection, it will stop them from approaching their full potential.

As the fear of rejection spins its web around you, it can lead to behaviors that make you seem insecure, ineffective and overwhelmed. You might sweat, shake, fight, avoid eye contact, and even lose the ability to effectively communicate. While people react to these behaviors in a broad variety of ways, below are some of the common reactions.

Rejection: Ironically, the fear of rejection often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. A 2009 study at the University of Florida demonstrated that confidence is nearly as important as intelligence in determining our income level! As a rule of thumb, the lack of self-confidence connected to the fear of rejection makes an individual more likely to be rejected.

When it comes to rejection, many of us blame themselves or others immediately.

Regardless of your background or gender, how you handle rejection is much more important than the rejection itself.

Friday, I will reveal four things you can do to help you deal with the fear of rejection.

Here is a bit of ancient wisdom that is an antidote to the Fear of Rejection.

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. “     Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

Action Plan:

First, identify you “go to” way of coping with the Fear of Rejection

Second, take action to push back on it

Excerpt from my Amazon #1 Best Selling Book, The No Fear Entrepreneur.

(c) 2018 John Thurman

4 Actions You Can Take Overcome Fear

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“Many of our fears are tissue-paper-thin, and a single courageous step would carry us clear through them,” Brendan Francis.

Here are some steps I adapted from The Art of Manliness: 29 Days to a Better Man: Conquer Fear.

Change Your Perspective On Fear

Fear is only negative if you think it is. Fear is a natural process that if left unchecked will cause us to live timid, restricted lives. Truthfully, in life, there is zero growth without risk. Instead of pushing back fear as an all-consuming, nerve-racking experience, see it as an adventure, a journey that will take you out of your comfort zone and into a whole new life and bring a sense of joy and adventure. If you have ever conquered a fear, you know it can be exhilarating. So why don’t you try and scare yourself just a little today? You might like the outcome.

Adjust Your Perspective On Risk

The honest taproot for many of our fears is the fear of trying something and failing. What if I get rejected? What if I fail? Well, you could, but you will never know until you try. If you don’t take the risk, you will never know, and you are guaranteed to fail.

This might be uncomfortable for you, but my mission is to challenge you. In making such a decision, you are leaving out the possible long-term risk, a risk that could be far greater than a risk to your ego. The long-term risk is the danger of living an entirely average life. The risk is looking back on your life in 10, 20, or 30 years and feeling your stomach turn with regret and remorse.

The primary reason we miss opportunities God sends our way is fear. It is sad to say that when you miss a chance because of your fear, you will never get that moment back again.

Maybe it is time for you to update your risk criteria.

Act with Courage

Teddy Roosevelt put it this way: “There were all kinds of things of which I was afraid of at first, ranging from grizzly bears to ‘mean’ horses and gun-fighters; but by acting as if I was not afraid I gradually ceased to be scared.”

Think about some of the men and women of the Bible who acted courageously: Ruth, Esther, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, Gideon, David. And how about other historical figures?

SFC Leigh Ann Hester, Silver Star, American Hero.

I doubt you have heard of this hero. Sergeant now Sergeant First Class Leigh Ann Hester was the first female to win the Silver Star in the Iraq War. This was later upgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross. Here is an excerpt from the citation:

After insurgents hit the convoy with a barrage of fire from machine guns, AK-47 assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, Hester “maneuvered her team through the kill zone into a flanking position where she assaulted a trench line with grenades and M203 rounds,” according to the Army citation accompanying the Silver Star.

“She then cleared two trenches with her squad leader where she engaged and eliminated three AIF [anti-Iraqi forces] with her M4 rifle. Her actions saved the lives of numerous convoy members,” the citation stated.

Here are other, more well-known people who overcame fear and became world renown in their field:

Colbie Caillat, Singer.

This artist is one of my personal favorites. I enjoy her style, attitude, and lyrics. She is a two-time Grammy winner with over six million albums and 10 million single sales to her credit. Also, she was a two-time loser on [the television show] American Idol.

Reflecting back, she said, “I was shy, I was nervous. I didn’t look the greatest. I wasn’t ready for it. I was glad when I auditioned, and they said ‘no.’“

Kill Fear With Faith-Filled, Logical Thought Processes

Fear is usually a function of lack of confidence and low self- esteem. Many people are afraid because they think they will fail. But if they do it anyway—if they try to overcome their fear instead of letting their fear limit them—they find they can do it. Fear should not keep us from working.

The Lord is on my side; I will not fear;What can mere man do to me? Psalm 118:6 (NKJV)

Think on this as we begin the freedom-from-fear journey together. Fear receives way too much airplay. Fear is the big bad boogeyman that grows by negative, contemplative thoughts that are re-runs of painful past events.

Fear is primarily mismanagement of our mental capacities.

Action Plan

Be sure to check out the final installment of how to overcome fear coming this weekend.

Seven Secrets to Building Resilience in Your Marriage

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 Resilience is the ability to resist the manifestations of clinical distress, impairment or dysfunctions that are often associated with critical incidents and personal trauma.
Dr. George Everly, Psychological Body Armor.”Last week Sara got so mad she threw her shoe at me. It missed my head by about three inches!” Larry said.”At the time I thought he deserved it,” Sara admitted. “But the fact that I could do that really scares me! I feel as if our marriage is in serious trouble.”While not every couple throws shoes—or anything else—that sense of uncontrollable anger is not uncommon for many couples regardless of creed, ethnicity, or social status. Unfortunately, some feel that the heightened level of emotion is the beginning of the end of their relationship.

In my more than 35 years of counseling and  45 years of married life, I’ve observed that how couples respond to an event such as Sara’s shoe-throwing can help them develop resilience, the ability to bounce back or recover quickly from change, misfortune, and unmet expectations.

As we explored their past ten years together, I knew that even though they were now in a difficult season, Larry and Sara had built resilience into their marriage. To create a resilient marriage, your commitment to the relationship must be stronger than your history, mood, or situation. Couples who are resilient have these seven qualities in common.

1. Resilient couples don’t fall prey to misconceptions about marriage. 

One thing that can damage our resilience is the mistaken notion that a good marriage equals a calm and peaceful one. In the ten years, Larry and Sara had been married, five jobs, one miscarriage, five harsh financial seasons, four moves, and two adventure-filled boys had taken their toll. Not to mention the fact that they came from two different family styles: Sara’s parents were divorced. Her dad had cheated on her mom multiple times, and then abandoned the family when she was ten. Larry, on the other hand, grew up in an intact family—his parents are still together more than 40 years later.

As we talked, Larry nailed one of the great Christian misconceptions about marriage: “We had no idea how difficult marriage would be. If you listen to people at our church talk about their marriages, it would be easy to believe nobody has been through what we’ve experienced.”

It amazes me that in this day when marriage ministries and materials are so prevalent, couples still believe a great relationship will be a peaceful one. They often feel invincible, especially in the early stages of marriage. This can lead them to deny the impact of stress and family history.

Many couples mistakenly think that loving each other means always getting along. But conflict is an inescapable part of marriage if the couple expects their relationship to grow and mature.

2. Resilient couples find help when they need it.

Many couples “go it” alone—trying to deal with their issues without getting outside help from a trusted source who can offer biblical encouragement, guidance, and support. Those are typically the couples who end up with broken relationships.

Larry and Sara had always been involved in small church groups, which had been invaluable sources of strength when difficult circumstances such as miscarriage and job loss came along. But when they felt more “out of control,” such as Sara’s shoe throwing, they knew it was a signal to seek professional help.

3. Resilient couples remember the good things about their marriage and each other.

“He’s a good father to our boys,” Sara mentioned when I asked them to list each other’s good qualities. “And he’s patient. He puts up with my quirks.”

“I love how loyal and passionate she is,” Larry added. “Sometimes she goes overboard, but I know her heart’s in the right place.”

The longer we talked, the more relaxed they became. “We’re not quitters,” Sara said. “When I see how many of our friends have crashed and burned in their marriages, I’m glad we’ve hung in there.”

Larry looked embarrassed but said, “We had no idea what we could endure as husband and wife. But we still love each other.”

Resilient couples choose to focus on the good as opposed to camping out on the bad.

4. Resilient couples accept the differences in their personalities, views, and ways of getting things done.

Sara entered marriage fearing the sharp conflict she’d watched her parents experience, while Larry came expecting the intimacy and commitment he’d seen his parents enjoy. For several years, they acted out based on the marriage models and communication styles they brought with them.

Sara tended to over-talk everything. Then if she felt Larry didn’t “get it,” she’d become angry. “When I try to talk to Larry,” she told me, “he always seems to run and hide. He’ll either collapse in the recliner and be sucked into the television, or he’ll retreat to the computer room. When he does that, I feel like going ballistic, and sometimes do.”

Larry responded, “She has an opinion about everything, and when I don’t engage in the conversation, she gets heated, so I retreat. Then she throws a shoe at me!”

Men and women really do have different needs.

For guys, we want to feel competent and needed. We want to feel respected. One friend of mine used to say, “Men are like dogs, they need three things: someone to feed them, play with them, and occasionally say, ‘Good boy.’”

I encouraged Sara to be more mindful before sharing an opinion. She also became intentional about giving Larry positive feedback on things he did around the house and with the boys. She even began to find herself being more sexually provocative with him.

For women, the key is to help her feel valued and cherished. If she feels her husband can love her the way she is, then she feels more secure. When a man listens to his wife, without trying to fix her, for instance, he’ll be amazed to see how she can engage him physically. Larry noticed that as he listened intently to Sara, she actually talked less. He even began to buy her flowers, knowing how much she appreciated the gesture.

Sara and Larry became more focused on their communication styles and began to senseless tension and more hope. Larry was choosing to stay connected and not withdraw, and Sara was trying to lower her intensity level.

“We’re not the same,” Sara mentioned. “And I’m starting to appreciate the fact that that can be a good thing.”

5. Resilient couples develop and maintain an internal locus (focus) of control rather than an external focus.

I asked Larry and Sara to recount some of the difficult times in their marriage and how they got through. They told me that six months into their marriage, Larry lost his job. It could have been devastating, especially since Sara’s part-time job didn’t bring in enough money to cover their bills. When many couples would take out their frustrations, fears, and worries on their spouse, Larry and Sara decided instead to focus on the possibilities.

“We knew we loved each other,” Sara said. “It wasn’t Larry’s fault he was downsized. We weren’t sure how it would work out, but we believed Larry would find a job and that God would lead us through this difficult time. And he did.”

“So what keeps you two together?” I finally asked them.

“I love him and want us to get better,” Sara told me.
Larry agreed. “We believe God can and will help us work things out, but it’s tough.” They both took their marriage vows seriously and didn’t want to become another statistic. They hoped to survive this rough time and were committed to the process.

6. Resilient couples manage their emotions.

Larry admitted to me that he can be a “control freak” at times. Sara, on the other hand, is a “free spirit.”

As the weeks went by, Larry and Sara started to focus on their personal responsibility for their portion of the relationship’s troubles and move forward.

After Sara’s fourth overdrawn check, Larry had had enough. Instead of blowing up or withdrawing from her, which had previously proved unsuccessful, Larry took another approach. He waited for a couple of days so he could calm down. Having a measure of control over his emotions, he could talk to her in a calm, rational way and they were able to resolve their money issues.

7. Resilient couples reinterpret past failures and use them as growing points instead of perennial negatives.

In other words, they look at past mistakes to make positive, life-changing applications.

Sara admitted she felt she had to punish Larry with angry outbursts to get him to do anything. As she worked on her side of the responsibility equation, she realized some of her anger was rooted in bitterness toward her dad. So Sara began to pay close attention to the things that could trigger her emotions. In the course of our counseling, she was able to see the hurts for what they were and began to come to terms with the damage. In the process, her feelings about Larry grew softer.

Both Sara and Larry let go of the old hurts and took active measures to reconnect. Larry is “staying in the room” when Sara is struggling. Sara is feeling more secure in her relationship with Larry as she sees the changes he’s making. They use the words, I was wrong. I’m sorry I hurt you. Will you forgive me?

In the six weeks, they were in counseling with me, Larry and Sara were able to receive enough mercy and grace to forgive each other and make adjustments necessary to move forward
Today they report that shoes are no longer a weapon of choice, but something to wear.

Call to action:
Are you interested in getting help in your relationship?  Feel free to email me: john@johnthurman.net

Comments welcome.