Why We Fear Rejection?



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“It’s not me it’s you”

“We regret to inform you that we will not be continuing with your application for the following vacancy….”

“You have so much to offer, but somewhere else…”

If you have been in similar scenarios like one of the above, raise your cup amigo because we have all been there.  We all have been rejected in one way or another. Rejection more like SLAP IN DA FACE ICE COLD mortification…

Rejection rudely shows up at the most untimely situations, usually drops by when you are head over heels in love, applying to jobs, pursuing your dream… umm yeah you know those major life-changing situations 😀

Most of our parents train us to seek their approval since we are infants. They smile or reward us when we do something cute or funny and they frown or punish us when we do something wrong. As we grow, we develop a need to always pursue acceptance, and we conform to please other people so they like us and approve of us. The moment they don’t, we suffer believing there is something wrong with us.

I still remember my first experience with rejection. I was 7 years old when I discovered my classmates were part of a secret art club.

They would disappear suddenly twice a week during break time and I would sit there wondering where the hell everybody went.

Until I followed them once and to my horror they were all sitting with that wicked art teacher who chose them and left me and some other kid behind. I felt so bad.

I remember wondering what was wrong with us (those who were left behind)? I opened up to my parents and of course outraged by this, they forced me in the club!

However, the secret art club hated that and made sure I do not feel I belong there and I automatically labeled myself as the worst artist in the world!  

left out

Rejection has no mercy. It torments us even when we are young and innocent. It creeps into our relationships, work and dreams.

Throughout the years, we get rejected by our crushes, classmates, universities, companies, etc. …

Rejections cause emotional pain that disturbs our thoughts, immense anger, affect our self-esteem and confidence, and threaten our vital feeling of belonging. When we do not confront and deal with rejection right away, those emotional experiences manifest into psychological complications that affect our decisions, mental health and self-value.

This article will help you understand why rejection hurts like @$!* and how to confront it.

Why do rejections hurt so much?


Evolution provides us with some interesting explanations. In our primitive past, to be excluded from the group meant no access to food, water, shelter, safety and mating partners. Which made survival very challenging. Being rejected from social groups was almost similar to being executed.

According to evolutionary psychologists, because the consequences of being outcast were so harsh, our brains acquired a cautionary method to prepare us when we are in danger of being ostracized and shunned from the group by eliciting strong pain whenever we get a suggestion of rejection from our community.

Those who had very painful experiences with rejection, tended to rectify their actions and remained in their clan, thus they developed an evolutionary advantage.

Intensity of Pain

Psychologists found that the emotions associated with rejection almost affect us as severely as physical pain. Studies showed that the same areas in the brain get stimulated when we are experiencing rejection or physical pain.  

To examine this theory further, researchers provided a group of people with Tylenol before asking them to remember a tough incident with rejection and another group were given sugar pills.

Those who took Tylenol experienced much less emotional pain than those who took the sugar pills! (Guy Winch, 2013)

We can relive our experiences with rejection more than our experiences with physical pain. Remembering a physical injury would not cause physical pain, however, recalling an experience with rejection can drown us with the same emotions we had during that incident.

 False Self Perceptions

“A self-fulfilling prophecy is a false idea about a situation that makes the person with the belief act in such a way that the false idea comes true” (Mark Tyrrell, 2012).
Assuming you will be rejected causes negative emotions that lead to the feared rejection.
For example, Jim assumes he will get rejected by his social group and he starts feeling angry and negative with the group. As a result, his fear and pessimism leads to his actual rejection from the group!
The outcome proves his fears were accurate, and Jim starts trusting his fear,  confusing it with the “hunch” feeling. Jim begins avoiding certain situations for his own protection!

“Expecting the worst can act as a type of emotional insurance policy” (Mark Tyrrell, 2012).

Image result for doubt kills more dreams quote


Experts revealed the amount of effort people give depends on whether they believe they will succeed or fail.

How we think we will do influences our future plan of action.  A study conducted by Hiroto, D. S., & Seligman, M. E. P. (1975) showed that what people believe about themselves and how they will perform a certain task determines their actual performance.

We are highly affected by our false self-perceptions of how bad or good we are doing. When we believe we will not do well, we begin to obsess about avoiding failure, creating anxiety and hindering our effort to achieve our goals.

Dealing with and Conquering Rejection

Image result for too many people go through life

  • No one can reject you

One of the main reasons we experience negative emotions when being rejected is allowing others to determine our value. We accept that other people’s opinion decides whether we are worthy or not. We learn from a very young age that it is crucial to be accepted and loved by everyone.

In our mind, we immediately become worthless if someone disliked us. We learned that our self-worth depends on the approval of others and we allowed them to control our mood and self-satisfaction.  After rejection we stop trying and taking risks, fearing failure..

  • It is not youit is them

We blame ourselves for being rejected; after rejection, we develop a belief that there is something wrong with us. Most rejections have nothing to do with us personally! People that reject others are acting on their own anxieties and insecurities. If we pay attention to what we tell our self when we get rejected, we can recognize how our pain has everything to do with how we are treating ourselves and barely to do with the incident itself.

  • It happens for a good reason

Time reveals the true reason behind the experienced rejection. Getting rejected by a company only to find the perfect job somewhere else, getting rejected by a love interest only to find the perfect person…  Eventually, we all find the reason for our pain at the right time.

  • Deal with past rejections

Sometimes we overreact to minor rejections because we carry unresolved emotions from past experiences. It is very important to understand the major source of our fears and the influences they had on us in order to deal with and eliminate theses negative beliefs.

  • Feel Good No Matter what

We put so many conditions in order to truly be happy and enjoy ourselves. “If I get that raise”, “If I get into that college”, “If she goes out with me”… Then I will be happy…

Be happy and proud of your self regardless of what is going right or wrong in your life. Feel good and appreciate how far you have come in life…

  • It is their Loss

Remind yourself of your best qualities which without a doubt exist. It is their loss if they overlooked your awesome traits. Your only purpose is for YOU NOT TO OVERLOOK THEM…

  • Focus on how you want to feel

Happy, relaxed, content, confident, proud….?
Feel them NOW and not a minute late!
Don’t wait for things to happen to give yourself the luxury of feeling good.
We tend to be our worst inner critics!

Sometimes, it is healthy to treat ourselves like we treat our favorite person in the world (our best friend, our child, our idol…)

  • What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?

Yes it does! We evolve and change after tough experiences. We learn so much about ourselves. Perceiving rejection as constructive can help us improve and become more resilient individuals..

Image result for there are two types of pain


It is never easy to go through rejection. However, having the awareness that we are in control of how we feel and how we perceive things will help us evolve and manifest into our better self.

Only you can establish your self-worth and make yourself feel good no matter what.

At the end of the day, it is never the End of the world 😉


Bregtje Gunther Moor, Eveline A. Crone, Maurits W. van der Molen. The Heartbrake of Social Rejection: Heart Rate Deceleration in Response to Unexpected Peer Rejection. Psychological Science, 2010; DOI:10.1177/0956797610379236

Guy Winch (2013). Emotional First Aid. New York, U.S.A: Hudson Free Press.

Hiroto, D. S., & Seligman, M. E. P. (1975). Generality of learned helplessness in man. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 31, 311-327.

How rejections damage our psychological and emotional well-being Published on July 3, 2013 by Guy Winch, Ph.D. in The Squeaky Wheel

Iyer et al. (2010). Motor Preparatory Activity in Posterior Parietal Cortex is Modulated by Subjective Absolute Value. PLoS Biology, 8 (8): e1000444 DOI:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000444.

Ten Surprising Facts About Rejection | Psychology Today. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201307/ten-surprising-facts-about-rejection

7 Tips to Overcome the Fear of Rejection. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.uncommonhelp.me/articles/fear-of-rejection/

There are 3 comments on this post

  1. DuanZeav
    20 hours ago

    LayanMhanna, after reading your message about rejections. Reading it from your perspective had given me an insight on dealing rejections. I have always had a hard time dealing with rejection, but like you said, one got to look at their rejections from various perspectives and rather than question what’s wrong with us, we should just let the rejections slide and move to a better place. It is definitely easier said than done. But your advice is definitely worth a read :). Thank you for sharing this message. Hoping that we can build a great content about life advice and some day , some how, i hope to cross path with you and talking about such advice. 🙂 Take care.

    1. Layan
      13 hours ago

      Appreciate you leaving this feedback here DuanZeav. Excited to read your blog ! ?

      1. DuanZeav
        21 hours ago

        Thanks Layan. 🙂 No worries. And Keep up the good work again :).


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