5 Ways Fear Of Rejection Can Look Like

Fear of rejection is a universal feeling and is also a universal disliked experience. Rejection hurts, but it hurts more when you are rejected by the people you deeply care about. According to experts, the same areas of the brain light up on an MRI scan when we experience rejection as when we experience physical pain. Thus, it’s understandable the memory of the pain is ingrained in our minds and we worry about being put in the same situation again. 

Because rejection is well known and most people know what it feels like, let’s dive deeper into what fear of rejection looks like.

1. You don’t take risks and reach for big goals. 

Fear of rejection keeps you away from reaching higher heights and improves you to become a better person. For example, you’re in college, and you are refraining from applying to scholarships not because you don’t have time but because you don’t think you’re capable of being selected. The takeaway lesson from Janis Joplin is “you are what you settle for” so never fail to try. 

2. You conform your behaviors and beliefs to the opinions of others.

When you put yourself available to the fixing of other people, you are the product of them, you are not your own person. No one can be you, that is the virtue. You have decisions about how you become, so take it and don’t fear, don’t let anyone else decide your life. 

Changing how you look to please other people’s eyes is an example of a toxic thought that stems from the fear of rejection. Toxic thoughts about devaluing yourself happen often, you let them put you down, and keep pretending to convince yourself that you must follow them. You may think you must not be yourself because you are a failure. By doing this, you are validating mental self-harm. But it can be changed. Standing up for oneself needs to be an act everyone nourishes. It is no question it is hard to overcome the fear of rejection, but it is possible through consistent understanding and practice.

3. You hesitate about voicing your negative feelings.

You put other people before yourself, therefore you don’t take your negative feelings seriously enough. You may feel judged every time you are vulnerable because you think you shouldn’t be. In contrast, it is acceptable to say you’re not okay, to not pretend to smile, to not give care to other people when you are not distributing care for yourself. Look inside, and give yourself the compassion you deserve.

4. You evaluate your worth based on other people’s feedback.

With the fear of rejection, it’s almost like you and people vs. you. You are on the other side of judgment (with other peers) which is embodied by a habitual personality to deprive yourself of the belief that you matter and rejection doesn’t; your other side is on the outside looking in, disapproved and not empathizing with you, causing a side of you that wants to believe otherwise isolated. This is the separation of oneself within oneself. Once you stop judging yourself and feeling discontent with the way you are, you would feel whole because you accept all of yourself including your flaws.

The main reason you may evaluate your worth based on other people’s feedback is you don’t believe in yourself. One moment, you feel like you’re so special because people mention your name. The next moment, you may think you are nothing because people compare you to another person. As an occupation, artists often face this problem; it affects them heavily because they live by people’s subjective feelings towards their artworks. 

Life doesn’t have to be on a competitive scale. You do not need to compare yourself with other people. The only person you should compare yourself with is you of the past.  

5. Fear of abandonment

When you fear whether other people might shut down your ideas, contempt how you look, interrupt when you talk because they couldn’t wait to present better ideas, you have become to expect the norm of rejection and get in the habit of withdrawing your ideas and be who you are. Being avoidant of social conflicts and intimate relationships are signs that you’re trying to protect yourself from feeling the pain drawn from being rejected. You may grow to become distrustful and isolate yourself from social relationships by stop opening up your thoughts and feelings. This spirals to disappointment in yourself because you’re not letting yourself live up to the full meaning of life and be free from judgments.


To free yourself from the fear of rejection, live your life like how you want to live it, not how other people want you to live it. 

In the words of John Irving: “If you care about something you have to protect it – If you’re lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.”


Raypole, C. (2019, December 11). 10 Tips for Overcoming Your Fear of Rejection. Retrieved January 22, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/fear-of-rejection

Dodgson, L. (2017, March 02). Why rejection hurts so much – and what you can do to ease the pain. Retrieved January 22, 2021, from https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.businessinsider.com/best-ways-to-handle-rejection-2017-3%3Famp&ved=2ahUKEwjZp6nohLHuAhVIXc0KHdCCDowQFjACegQIBBAF&usg=AOvVaw3COZyF6RRbn0PRpN6YY3Qc&ampcf=1

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