One of the harshest sayings can also be the most powerful strategy for combating a fear of rejection. Think back to the last time you felt rejected. Maybe a friend snubbed you. Perhaps a co-worker was very cold or your partner was not interested in conversation, let alone anything more. How quickly did you assume that you had done something wrong? Those of us who fear rejection or find it hard to accept criticism will race down the path of thinking it must be about me. Many will ask: Did I do something to upset you? Others will get angry because it’s often easier to feel anger than rejection.
What happens if you discover that your friend snubbed you because she was having a terrible day and could not face anyone? How do you feel if you bad mouth a co-worker for being rude and then find out that their marriage has just ended or their child is sick? And how often do you discover that your partner is really stressed and preoccupied with a problem of their own – which has absolutely nothing to do with you? We can end up feeling guilty or embarrassed for assuming that we were the cause of the behaviour. Yet we do it time and time again.
Why not make things easier for everyone, including you, by assuming that it’s not about you – unless you hear otherwise? When you see someone you care about acting differently, try feeling and showing empathy. To be empathic, you need to imagine what might be going on for your friend, co-worker or partner – taking yourself right out of the equation. It becomes a win-win situation. You won’t feel so hurt and they will feel your support and willingness to understand their pain.