Dealing with the fear of rejection

Asking someone out is not easy. Nerves can overwhelm you and fill your head with ideas of what will happen if you are turned down. You like this person and don’t want to be embarrassed by finding out they don’t feel the same way. It will probably hurt to hear a refusal, and your nerves may have you focusing on the possibility of pain.

Many will say to “ask them,” “just do it,” “get it over with.” “What if they say yes?” “What have you got to lose?” “The worst that can happen is that they say ‘no.’” But this is an oversimplified idea. It isn’t as easy as all that.

We tend to live in the moment. What is physically happening right now? What is my emotional state right at this moment? How can certain actions affect these states? If they say no, we may think about what will happen next, what if we end up alone for the rest of our lives?

We have all been single. If you are reading this, you are here, you have made it to this moment, and you are okay. But that doesn’t mean that we want to be alone forever, or particularly like the idea. We all like to know that someone is waiting for us at home, someone who loves us, wants us, needs us. Whether it is a pet, a child or a lover, we find comfort in others. Fear of rejection cannot be solved by saying, “the worst that can happen is that they say ‘no.’” Our thoughts and fears will carry us far beyond that deceptively simple ‘no.’

People say that we have to be open to possibilities. We have to be realistic. Nothing lasts forever. These are not comforting thoughts. We want the good things to last, the bad things to go away. We have every right to be terrified to ask, “You want to grab a bite to eat?” But then, if we don’t ask, we’ll definitely be on our own, we won’t have someone at the end of the day. Avoiding rejection is less painful in the moment. But is it less painful in the long run, or will it just make things harder?

By focusing on rejection and the accompanying pain, we are focusing on feelings that we don’t want. So instead of focusing on what you don’t want to feel, try to think about what you do want to feel. Take a moment to ask yourself how you want to feel about this in the future. Do you want to feel anxious because you didn’t ask? Do you want to constantly question yourself and ask “what if”? Or do you want to tell yourself that you at least gave it a shot, that you had the bravery to do something about that question burning a hole in your mind? Bravery is not only found in actions of grandeur, but also in the little things we do every day.

Ask yourself what rejection really means. Getting rejected is not just about you; it tells you something about someone else. You are not unlovable or destined to be alone. You are just not meant to be with that particular person at that particular point in time. We make decisions every day. Decisions to cross the street, to pass the class, to try for that job. Perhaps we are just selfish enough to believe that rejection is a direct insult to ourselves.