Sometimes I feel my whole life has been one big rejection.”

Marilyn Monroe

How many times through our lives we heard things like “We grew apart and I need to move on” or got rejection letters from recruiters letting us know that we didn’t meet some criteria. Rejected by the company we applied to, by a loved one or his/her family, rejected by school or rejected to dance. Why does it affect us so much? Or, more importantly, how some people get over it so easily and move on and for some of us it is such a painful experience? How to approach rejection?

The foundation of the fear of rejection is socio-biological: we want to belong, to be accepted, feel secure, worthy, and, at the end of the day, loved. As with any painful experience, we have three choices to deal with it: fight, flight or freeze.

  • Flight response could look like: avoid applying to new jobs (no application-no rejection emails) or decide not to date for a while (“No Woman, No Cry” as in Bob Marley’s song);
  • Freeze response: get stuck and let rejection take over, soak into this feeling, complain about this experience (like in Beck’s song “I’m a loser baby, so why don’t you kill me”);
  • Fight response: you can try to prove a recruiter and hiring manager that they are wrong and that you are a perfect match for the position you applied for or slash the tires of the loved one that doesn’t go out with you (“I’m gonna show you tonight, I’m all right” as in Pink’s “So What” song.)

All three type of choices seem to be legitimate. I take it back – I don’t really recommend you to slash one’s tires 🙂  However, none of them seems to be a powerful integrative solution.

A couple of out-of-pocket practices that I would recommend to approach the fear of rejection or being wounded by rejection:

  • As with any painful emotional experience, express it in a safe environment. Write a song, a poem, dance, play drums (they are great for releasing energy) or whatever form of self-expression resonates more with you;
  • Sounds scary, though what can you learn from this experience? Suggested questions for self-reflection: What it feels like to be rejected? What is my typical way of reacting to rejection? How do I support myself at such times? How can other people support me? How can I ask them for that support?
  • Write a letter to the one who rejected you and put there whatever comes to your mind. Change it, tweak it, until you like it and…never send it. It helps to explore your experience with rejection and save relationships;
  • If the fear of rejection freezes you from taking action, think about last time you were rejected: what were the consequences of this experience? What allowed you to cope with it? What you learned about yourself and others from this experience?

Great thing about fear of rejection as with any fear is that it helps to discover out true strengths and values. It is a creative catalyst, though it is hard to believe it when we are actually going through it. The more scared we get, the less worthy we feel that further on feeds the fear. This is a dance, a dangerous dance and vicious cycle that we create in our world. It is up to us to work with it and create something useful and beautiful out of it.

Some reading related to the subject that I would suggest:  The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery by Sarah Lewis.

And, lastly, don’t let the fear of rejection get in your way. Looks like we learn way more from rejection than from acceptance. And, moreover, rejection doesn’t happen as often as we imagine.


Questions? Drop me a message. I would be glad to support you and be your partner in the new dance with the fear of rejection. Learn more about the ways we can work together here.


Masha Sweitzer