Fear of rejection is one of the biggest things that holds us back in life, but particularly in relationships. The irony however is that rejection is actually preferable to indifference, and that the outcome will only be the same as if we were to avoid ever putting ourselves on the line in the first place.
For instance – the most common time when most of us are afraid of rejection is when we are thinking about asking someone out. If we are so afraid of rejection that we never approach or ask that person, then this will mean that there is a certainty we won't end up dating them – which is no different from what would happen if we were to be rejected. At the same time though, if we at least ask and at least approach the person we are interesting then we have a possibility of getting the positive response that we want. At the same time if we try and fail then we will still have the ability to move on and to bookend the situation rather than just wondering what might happen. At the same time you increase your chances by putting yourself on the line thus demonstrating both vulnerability and courage, and you also learn from the experience either way. There is every reason then to try and to take a chance regardless of what you think the outcome is, and yet so many of us remain frozen in inactivity as a result of fear.
So Where Does it Come From?
So what is the reason for this fear? And why is it that we can't bring ourselves to risk rejection? If it's in a crowd on a night out then it is likely literally just a fear of getting rejected – a fear of embarrassment despite the fact that we will probably never see the person again meaning that it really doesn't matter even if we are rejected. To get over this is simply a matter of learning to put yourself out there more, and learning to get over social inhibitions which can be achieved by putting yourself in awkward situations and learning that they're not that bad, or by using CBT to change the way they think about things.
This can also help us to overcome fear of failure in other areas of our life such as our careers or our social lives. This can leave us frozen in so many areas of our life and prevent us from fulfilling our potential for many reasons. For instance if you are not as productive as you should be it might be that you are putting off trying to achieve your goals – simply because you cannot fail if you do not try. At the same time if you are struggling to talk to people it may be that you are fearful of rejection. Purposefully submit yourself to situations where you might get rejected then, and try to change the way you see it. Tell yourself it's a learning curb and that it doesn't matter. We don't grow as a result of success, we grow as a result of failure. Rejection only makes us stronger.
Asking Out a Crush
However this isn't the situation that most of us are frozen in, particularly when it comes to relationships. The situation you might well be in right now if you're reading this article is that you have a crush on someone you know – a friend, a colleague or even someone you've admired from afar. You've probably thought about asking this person out for a while now, but failed to build up the courage. In this situation you know they're your friend and you have had countless opportunities to ask them out without an audience – so what is it that's preventing you from trying?
Some might say it's an attempt to protect our own ego – that rejection in something so important to us could cause us to question ourselves which means it's better avoided. However likely this isn't the case, and most of us would be able to get over this ego defence mechanism if it were. What's more likely to be holding us back is what high regard we hold the object of our affections in. If you have had this crush for a while then likely you have built them up in your mind to be perfect and you have probably fantasised about marrying them or about what a perfect couple you would make. As such then you would probably rather that you were just friends and you could at least talk than risk being rejected – what would you do then?
So in this case the solution is simple – to take that person off of their pedestal. No one is perfect and if you admire them so much that it's ruined your chances with them then it's pointless anyway. You need to come back down to reality and start looking at their faults. View them as a human and recognise that you have other options if it doesn't go right. By doing this you then have nothing to lose in asking them out and you can better cope with whatever their answer may be. Then you will be able to either go out with them as you have wanted to for so long, or can move on with your life and try to find happiness elsewhere. Either way it is much healthier than idolising that one person. Think about that person's faults and you'd be surprised at how much your thinking changes.