Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2016 Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry
We are Vulnerable to rejection because we naturally want (and need) Validation that we are Valuable and Valued. These four Vs are at the core of many of our choices.
A fear of rejection might become its own monster if we are not aware it exists. There are clues to consider if we want this deep-seeded fear to lessen its grip on our behavior. What is actually at the root? Insecurity, yes. Our need for unconditional love, yes. Trust issues, a past of pain and betrayal…yes, but look deeper still. Are we not afraid that in some way we might be defective and unlovable?
“I am unlovable” is a terrifying belief. If not addressed appropriately, it will come out in other ways, namely through fear of rejection. Here are five clues that fear of rejection is running your life.
We honor our physical personal space, and keeping people emotionally at arms’ length is a form of self-protection too. It is wise to withhold complete trust until time has proven we are safe with someone, however we have a problem if there is never time enough.
Someone once pointed out that I was asking repeatedly for validation that I matter. Although true then (and in my case it had grown into a problem I needed to address therapeutically), clearly affirmation was not powerful enough to chase away my fear of rejection. That is because I did not trust the source regardless of overwhelming evidence that it would be safe to do so.
We avoid complete honesty because truthfulness and humility are not our top values even if we say they are. Our chief aim is to avoid confrontation. It is much less threatening to assume the thoughts of another person than it is to directly ask.
By mind-reading, we stay in control of our perceptions. Communication has its limits because our fear of rejection overpowers any well-meaning desire for closeness. For example, Sally can assume Sam is mad at her, and in that way avoid a difficult conversation about her needs. Sam is not mad at her, however a cold evening awaits him.
When our expectations are not met, we experience disappointment and sometimes anger. Ideas about what someone should have known, or should have done may fill our brain. Fact is, we have established silent rules for friendships and other relationships. Because of fear of rejection, we have not shared these thoughts. Yet we are quick to blame and criticize when others fail to meet these standards of our own making.
John feels anger and resentment toward Judy because she did not ask immediately about his first day on a new job. Judy chose to wait until after dinner so they could have a meaningful conversation on the matter. John’s fear of rejection leads him to take her inaction personally instead of telling her what he wants.
Passive – aggressive responses
Snide remarks, sarcasm, implied insults, refusal to cooperate, sabotage – these can result when we are so fearful of rejection that we keep our anger to ourself. Our bodies are not equipped to hold unexpressed anger and bitterness. This is one reason patients develop ulcers, some forms of cancer, and other health problems.
By burying our strong emotions, we force them to slip out some other way. Kania mumbles her dissatisfaction under her breath just within earshot of Paul. He asks her to repeat it because he did not hear. Kania says, “It’s nothing” and walks away in a huff. Paul is left to wonder if she wants him to follow her or not. Passive – aggressive behaviors and comments are the easy yet destructive route to dealing with relationship challenges. Fear of rejection prevents us from healthy confrontation.
Fast commitments and easy break-ups
Too many young people latch on to the first potential partner who appears. Some girls give up their self-esteem, rights, and virginity by trying to hold on to perceived true love. Some boys become obsessive and jealous over a perceived threat of losing a girlfriend. Each manipulates the other. Older people who might know better are not immune, because fear of rejection leads them to compromise their values, and commit to a romance too soon.
Ben is on his fourth marriage. From the outside it may appear he casually tosses wives aside for newer models. Truth is, his fear of rejection leads to “I will dump you before you can dump me.” Some relationships hold little promise because one or both partners is living in fear of rejection.
Does any of this seem familiar?
If you see these behavior and thought patterns in your life, it is possible you too are living in fear of rejection. Ask yourself, “Do I believe wholeheartedly that I am lovable?” If the answer is less than yes, fear of rejection may have more control over your decisions than you would like.
Today’s Helpful Word
“Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so that we may sing for joy to the end of our days.”
-Prayer of Moses
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NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.
*Picture from Kozzi.com