How to Overcome Your Fear of Rejection and Be Fully Yourself Every Day
“If you are fully yourself, the tribe may label you an outcast and you’ll never be included again.” -Kyle Eschenroeder
There is a great fear most people experience when they consider being “truly” themselves.
What if people reject me?
What if people laugh at me?
What if I’m permanently exiled from my community?
How could I ever overcome that shame and embarrassment?
These are real fears. When you choose to be fully yourself, you risk becoming an outcast and public humiliation.
I can keenly relate to this fear — maybe you can, too. I was dominated by the fear of rejection for most of my life growing up. In high school, I remember being constantly disgusted with myself for being such a doormat. I was a total pushover, because I was afraid if I said no, or stood up for myself, people would reject me.
I needed to be chosen — by cute girls, by the basketball coach, by my teacher, by the guys in drum line. So I did things for people even when I knew I wasn’t being myself at all.
It’s only now, after 7 years of counseling, therapy, and maturity, that I’ve finally become comfortable being myself, and not what others — my family, friends, and society — wanted me to be.
Here’s how to overcome that terrible fear of rejection and be fully yourself…every day.
Want Freedom? Unlearn Your Constant Need to Be Liked and Chosen
“When we are not chosen, we feel bad. When we are chosen — even by idiots — we feel good. We need to unlearn this imprisonment. Not dissect and analyze it. Just completely unlearn it.” -James Altucher
Most people live their daily lives trying to please others.
Now, I’d be lying if I said I was totally over those behaviors and the fear of rejection. I still get that familiar feeling of dread when someone laughs when I stutter or when someone leaves a hurtful comment on my blog. I don’t think I’ll ever be 100% rid of that.
But for the most part, I’m fully myself every day. I’m not afraid to cry in front of my wife anymore. I’m not afraid to say I love Les Miserables, fruity margaritas, or that I really don’t care about the NFL that much.
I got here by choosing to stop looking to other people to fill me up. Because as long as my focus was being “liked” and “chosen,” I’d never get to be fully myself. Because when you’re fully yourself, you’re going to disappoint a lot of people who want to see you help them more.
When you unlearn this limiting mindset, you allow your true self to start coming out. It will be scary and uncomfortable for many people, but it’s the only way to start moving away from the constant state of fear and dread most people wake up with.
Unlearn your need to be liked and chosen all the time. Trust me — it’s far better to be totally honest with yourself and others. It’s one of the most freeing things in the entire world.
“Remember: we all get what we tolerate. So stop tolerating excuses within yourself, limiting beliefs of the past, half-assed, or fearful states.” -Tony Robbins
Don’t Play “Not To Lose” With People…Play to Win
In sports, it’s easy for the winning team to begin playing “not to lose”; being defensive, rigid, and focused on escaping with victory and withstanding their opponent’s comeback.
But when you play “not to lose,” you play weaker, softer, and worse. When you play not to lose in your life, you become defined by:
But if you play to win…
- You will cultivate a standard of excellence that will upgrade every other area of your life.
- You will reach new levels of mastery and endurance.
- You will see your old limits…and break them.
- You’ll be braver.
- You’ll be more relaxed, entering in flow states and deep focus.
- You’ll be more confident and self-assured.
Are you playing “not to lose” — avoiding rejection, fearing failure, trying to get through the day unscathed?
Or are you playing to win — confident, focused, determined, full of action and strategy as you reach towards your biggest goals?
A lot of people are playing “not to lose” right now. They’re not actively trying to move forward, they’re just trying with all their might not to get left behind, rejected, or forgotten.
The problem is, this strategy was a bad one from the beginning. When your focus is being defensive and your actions rooted out of fear and risk-avoidance…you greatly increase your odds of failure.
In a letter to his friend, Bruce Lee wrote:
“Alive, a man is supple, soft; in death, unbending rigor. All creatures, grass and trees, alive and plastic, are pliant, too, and in death all feeble and dry. Unbending rigor is the mate of death, and yielding softness, the company of life.”
Stop focusing on “not losing.”
Start focusing on winning, every single day.
“The stiffest tree is readiest for the ax.” -Bruce Lee
True Happiness Only Comes in Living the Way You Were Designed
“If your lifestyle does not add to your healing, it will subtract from it.” -Benjamin Foley
If you are tempted to begin acting like everyone wants you to, remember this:
You can never be happy as long as you’re living your life for other people.
In his book As a Man Thinketh, James Allen wrote:
“A man’s wishes and prayers are only gratified and answered when they harmonize with his thoughts and actions.”
What Allen is saying is simple: you can’t achieve your goals or reach your dreams until your thoughts and actions are aligned. If you’re always thinking about how you want to live as you watch yourself live an entirely different way, you’ll always be stuck.
You need to realign your thoughts and behaviors to allow growth, well-being, and fulfillment.
You were born with specific needs, desires, goals, and wants. You’ll never be truly happy until you start living the way you were designed.
- A car doesn’t run on soda, it runs on gasoline and oil.
- A tree can’t grow if you pour paint on it; it needs water and sunlight.
- You can’t grow if you stay in an environment dictated by others.
You can’t be yourself if you keep living in ways you weren’t designed to live — no matter what lies you tell yourself.
What are some behaviors you know you need to stop doing? Who are some people you should stop hanging out with?
What are some behaviors and activities that you know you should start doing instead?
One of the greatest pivotal moments in my life was when I decided to go to counseling and therapy.
Until that point, I had a severe addiction to pornography. I was a chronic people-pleaser. My self-worth was terribly low. I hated the ways I acted.
After counseling, I started to behave very differently. No more night-long Internet binges. No more hanging out with vulgar, negative people. No more tolerating merely “surviving” — I was determined to thrive and grow.
Start living the way you were designed to live.
“One of the greatest turning points in my life occurred when I stopped casually waiting for success and started to approach it as a duty, obligation, and responsibility.” -Grant Cardone
It’s Not “How Can I Make Everyone Happy?”…It’s About “How Would I Like to Live?”
“People are always asking me about the secrets and tricks I use to get results. Sorry if this disappoints you: there are no secrets. There are no tricks. It’s simple: ask yourself where you are now, and where you want to be instead.” -Tim Grover, Michael Jordan’s personal trainer
A lot of people wake up every day focusing on one thing:
How do I please other people?
I’m not talking about service and loving sacrifice; I’m referring to the constant feeling that you need to please everyone around you to be alright.
For me, this desire seemed to stem from childhood, and since I never addressed it (I chose to binge on pornography, video games, and mental fantasy for all those years instead), it blooms into a powerful negative mindset that left me resentful, fearful, and exhausted.
When you face your familiar cycle of avoiding rejection, ask yourself:
How do I want to live?
This was the driving force behind my eventual move to leave my 9–5 desk job to travel the world and become a writer.
I worked in corporate America for 5 years, all the while wishing I could work for myself, and not have to deal with dysfunctional bosses, pointless meetings, and long commutes in rush hour traffic.
I had finally had enough, and after the 5th year, I couldn’t ignore that question any longer: how did I want to live? Simple: I wanted freedom, meaning, and control over my life.
I saw where I wanted to go, and I did the work to get there.
Now, I’m doing what I was meant to do — write. I own my own business. I work from home, helping people achieve meaning, clarity, and focus in their lives.
The truth is, there isn’t any “secret,” no magical trick that will get you to where you want to be. Stop asking yourself what others want, and ask yourself how you want to live.
Then, take the steps necessary to get there.
Stop letting other people lead your life.
“Many people think in terms of ‘I have to do what my colleague/neighbor/family member is doing’ instead of ‘I have to do what’s best for me.’” -Grant Cardone
“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” -ancient proverb
The fear or rejection is real. I know.
Those feelings you have aren’t silly, but they are holding you back. The way to overcome them? Do the thing you fear.
Afraid to paint? The solution is simple: go paint.
Afraid to write that book? The solution is simple: write that book.
Afraid to be yourself?
Then just be yourself.
Everything you want and desire is on the other side of fear. Whether you take the steps you know you need to take depends entirely on you.
But being fully yourself is something you can do, every single day — if you choose to.