Many would think that people’s greatest fear in their lives is the fear of death. It should be, however our egos have very sneaky ways of deleting the fact that we’re all going to die someday. It would actually be very healthy for society if the fear of death was number 1 on the list- this would like be a sign of a higher level of consciousness at the societal level and definitely an overall diminished ego. However studies continually report that public speaking is man’s greatest fear. It’s not the speaking their afraid of, so let’s cut to the core of what fear drives the masses. It’s the fear or rejection- plain and simple. The fear of rejection is the reason for public speaking being #1 on the list. At a evolutionary level, the fear of rejection makes sense. Those cavemen and primitive homo sapiens who were rejected and ostracized from the tribe died. The group was a safe space that provided our ancient ancestors with the resources for survival, therefore rejection resulted in the ultimate pain of death. However in our society today, rejection is not a matter of survival. Perhaps this fear of rejection is still wired into our nervous system and our genes from thousands of years ago- I don’t know, that’s one theory. What I do know is that we as humans have 5 basic needs (survival, love/connection, significance, fun and freedom) and two of these are directly related to our overdeveloped fear of rejection. In particular, our needs for love/connection and significance/competence are linked to this fear of rejection. Humans do crazy things to ensure that they feel connected to others. They join gangs, they do drugs, they join cults. They also do crazy things to feel a sense of significance. People get tattoos and earrings all over their body just so they can feel special and unique. These needs for connection/love and significance are so visceral that if they are not met, humans will experience anxiety and massive amounts of fear. Additionally, people will settle for avenues to meet these needs on such a short term basis that they inevitably sacrifice their long term fulfillment and happiness. For example, people will marry the wrong person because they fear not getting these needs met if they were to break up with them tomorrow and God forbid have to be single for a little while. The fear of rejection is the outward manifestation of the scarce belief of human beings that their needs of connection and significance are not going to be met.
Another reason people so desperately fear being rejected by a potential mate, friend, group or client because they falsely attribute this as a sign that they are not worthy, lovable or a significant human being. They have erroneous beliefs that if they get rejected by that one person, then they are all of the sudden unlovable or insignificant and that they will not be able to be loved ever again. It’s hilarious if you take a step back and look at this silly dynamic.
You now understand what is behind this fear of rejection, but what keeps it in place? What keeps it so firmly rooted that it continues to run our society? There are factors in our society and our family systems that really lock it in, so it keeps its frightening effect. Our families and school systems have implicit rules that if you behave and act like you’re supposed to- you will be a part of our group- you will fit in and therefore be accepted. Most don’t even see that this is going on in their own family. They have been playing the same role for the last 20-30 years that they think all is fine and dandy. However, a person will see this dynamic the minute they stop playing their ascribed role and begin to either play something different or don’t follow the underlying family rules. It is in this moment when the feeling of being ostracized, or no longer part of group begins to sting. Whether it be in a group or a family, this disconnect feels like death. One minute you felt love, connection and significant because of all the closeness and support of those around you. Then the next moment you feel like it all got taken away from you. A great sense of loss sweeps over you. The feelings can mimic that of death. You feel like someone just stole all your oxygen and now you have nothing to breathe. You lose your entire sense of certainty and begin to wonder, “who the hell am I?”. You identified for so many years with your family, group or clique that now you feel naked and unworthy. You feel like you must go back to playing that old role you had been conforming to for so many years just to get the love and approval back that you feel like has been lost.
Many people have no idea what I am talking about. They are still the fish in the water. They don’t yet have the awareness to get outside of their limited perception of what keeps the family, group or system in homeostasis. They don’t understand the rules, the roles and the rituals that keep the dysfunction at bay. However, if you are at this point or have experienced this, this is not a tragedy. This is the greatest opportunity of your life. That feeling of loss of love and significance is an ILLUSION OF LOSS! What this whole shit show of a scenario has revealed to you is that you have been basing your whole self worth and sense of self on other people’s opinions and behavior. In the words of Leslie Cameron Bandler, you have become an emotional hostage to other people. You have unconsciously learned that in order to feel good, feel loved, feel worthy and feel significant- someone else has to do something for you- they have to give it to you. This is a major opportunity for personal growth and massive breakthrough. You were living life under the assumption that everyone else had the oxygen and you had to do something or be someone for them in order to get it so that you could breathe. This is not the case, there is an unlimited amount of oxygen and you can get it yourself without having to rely on someone acting some certain way toward you. This faulty belief that people outside of you were the source of your happiness and self worth is the biggest lie and the handcuffs to your happiness and potential. Self actualization is about harnessing your inner power and living life on your own terms- not an emotional hostage to other people.
This level of awareness is the first step out of victimhood. Our society is saturated with codependent relationships and emotional hostage taking that it has almost become the norm. People are unaware of it- they see no problem. We have been brainwashed from a young age through Hollywood, the media , politicians and advertisers to get our sense of significance and love from others. This unconscious decision on our part to become dependent on other people is exactly the mechanism that keeps them in power. I am not telling you that you should say “fuck off” to all other human beings. What I am suggesting is that you begin to wake up and escape the cultural hypnosis that something outside yourself is going to be the mechanism for your peace, happiness and self worth.
In order to be free from the fear of rejection you must adopt the belief that you are in control of your emotional state and the way you feel. Nothing and no one can change the way you feel. I know this is a tall task, but this belief is the underlying belief that will free you from your fear of rejection and your victimhood. I will discuss practical tactics to allow you to free yourself from the chains of this fear of rejection, people pleasing and approval seeking in posts down the road. This is merely a discussion to raise awareness of the issue.
The greatest irony of all is that once you can conquer your fear of rejection- you actually will receive even more love/connection and a greater sense of significance. No longer can anyone take anything away from you. There is no illusion of loss anymore. You are supplying your energy, your life force and your feelings of significance. People will actually flock to you because you are offering them a unique proposition. You are inherently offering them the opportunity at a real relationship with no emotional hostage taking or victimhood. It is the ultimate freedom for both parties. Both people can show up to the relationship and be exactly as they are. There are no expectations, obligations or invisible rules that dictate that people should be different or act different than they currently are.
I believe this topic is the crux of personal development that gets ignored and is rarely spoken about. It is time to pull the curtain back and reveal what is running people’s lives in our culture in this day and age. It’s the fear of rejection- PERIOD. It is behind the look in every office workers eyes when they look up from their cubicle to see their coworker leaving to pursue their dream- start their own business or move to their dream spot on the globe. The fear of rejection keeps people planted where they are, living lives of quiet desperation. Kill the monster when it’s small, because when the fear gets too big, it feels nearly impossible to overtake.