As we continue our series on F.E.A.R., we are looking
at the 'R,' which stands for our fear of rejection.
When I was in college, one of my favorite writers was Erich Fromm who wrote The Art of Loving. Fromm wrote that while people are afraid of not being loved, the deeper and often more unconscious fear is the fear of loving. One of the fears in loving is being rejected.
I would imagine most of us have experienced rejection in some way or another. It is a painful experience that makes us question our attractiveness, abilities and self.
Many of us may be afraid of rejection because we were emotionally and physically wounded by people who were supposed to love and protect us. The fear of rejection keeps many of us from allowing others to get close to us. When we begin feeling certain feelings, we become anxious so we either put up a wall or break off the relationship.
How we let rejection impact us has a lot to do with how we interpret what it means. Often we associate the word 'no' with rejection. For this reason some of us have a problem with making boundaries for ourselves by saying 'no' to others. We wind up over committing ourselves, which in turn gives us stress. We can reinterpret saying 'no' to others as a way of taking care of ourselves.
But the other side of the word 'no' is when it is said to us. We hear it in different ways, such as not being selected for a particular job or being turned down in a relationship.
It is our interpretation of the word 'no' that matters. If we do not get that particular job, the danger is interpreting the 'no' to mean that we as individuals are being rejected. We might view this 'no' as our not being worthy or not good enough. It is easy to think that there is something wrong with us or that we are a failure. The truth may be that the other person was chosen because he or she had the gifts, experience or skills that were needed for that specific job. It doesn't mean that we do not have gifts or skills. It may be a matter of suitability.
It doesn't mean that we are a 'reject' or loser if we are turned down for a date or the relationship doesn't work for us. It may be a matter of preference. An example of this may be in picking our favorite car. We may prefer a Ford over a Chevrolet but it doesn't mean there is something wrong with a Chevy.
The point is that 'no' and rejection don't have to mean that we are unworthy or a loser.
Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.
Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700