Friday, September 2, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: Overcoming the Fear of Rejection

Is the fear of rejection holding you back from jumping into the dating arena?

Did you ever consider that the people with whom you will interact are also afraid of rejection? Chances are, they are either faking it until they make it or have discovered ways to quiet that little voice in their head that says, “You are not good enough.”

When the dating pool is entered, especially after a long hiatus, there is a tendency for both men and women to revert to teenage behavioral patterns. Fear of rejection is probably #1 on that list. Considering that it is much easier to be the rejecter than the rejected, there are various ways daters protect themselves. In truth, many reject everyone, cutting off the possibility of being rejected.

So how is this fear usually manifested? Some are too aggressive in their attitude towards others. This is usually bravado rearing its ugly head; a person barrels in so not to think about the situation that is causing fear to rise. Others wear an unapproachable countenance and strike a "stay away from me" stance. In essence, this is daring anyone to cross over the line into the imaginary protective circle which has been drawn. As am aside, keep in mind that sometimes this behavior is simply indicative of shyness. A shy person often appears aloof and not interested in others. However, underneath his/her exterior, he/she is hoping someone will strike up a conversation and help put him/her at ease.

As you can see from these few illustrations, if you exhibit these behaviors you are the one who is doing the rejecting -- or, at least, so it seems!

How can you overcome the fear of rejection?

1. First, you need to determine your goal. If it is to have a happy social life then you need to change your behavioral patterns so you don’t negate your efforts.

2. Keep in mind that it is not always about YOU! In these stressful times, each person has a lot of issues with which to deal. Upon meeting a stranger, it is impossible to know what is going on in his/her life at that moment in time. Behavior that seems like a rejection may have nothing to do with you, although it is very likely you will take it personally. Your self-worth must not be tied to whether you are accepted or rejected by others.

3. Move slowly as you develop your new relationships. People get scared for a variety of reasons and may retreat – again, not because of you but because of their own issues. When you take baby steps and incorporate a non-demanding attitude, you are establishing a safe environment in which to explore possible deeper feelings.

4. Be on the lookout for encouraging remarks and actions that let you know the other person is interested. If he or she is receptive to your advances, there is less of a chance of rejection. And if you are the one giving the encouraging hints, sometimes you have to be less than subtle!

5. If you don’t have any expectations then it is difficult to be disappointed or hurt by rejection. This is the best way to approach dating.

When you have experienced the loss of a partner, it is a type of rejection. Naturally, you want to protect yourself from more loss and so you may hide your vulnerability under many layers. Unfortunately, this has the opposite effect. When you opt to be closed off from others and the world (or, in other words, reject life and/or love), you are making the probability of being rejected a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

If you want to love, love more. If you want to be accepted, be accepting. If you don’t want to be rejected, don’t reject others based on preconceived notions. Open your heart, even if there is a chance of experiencing pain, for as the saying goes …. No Pain, No Gain!

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