I know what it is to feel fear. There was a time in my life where I actively worked to conceal my romantic feelings for someone for fear that he'd reject me if given the opportunity.
I talk to single people all the time who have similar fears. It stops them from taking all kinds of actions - making eye contact with a stranger, messaging someone online, or asking someone out on a date.
Can you relate? If so, here are 3 easy steps to conquer your fear of rejection, for good:
1) Get rejected.
Stick with me here. Jason Comely, a Canadian entrepreneur, was sick of being too scared to ask women out on dates. So he designed what he called "rejection therapy". For 30 days, he intentionally asked requests of people he knew they would reject - like asking a stranger in a parking lot to drive him to a town 20 miles away.
He got no after no, and eventually he realized that "no" couldn't hurt him.
You don't have to go to that extreme to get the benefit of surviving a perceived rejection.
The key is to accept that it is going to feel very uncomfortable and scary to put yourself out there. Lean into the fear, don't try to wish it away. It will only go away once you desensitize yourself to it.
Trust me. This works!
2) Stop assuming you can read minds.
There have been a few occasions in my life when I said no to someone who asked me out when in my heart, I wanted to say yes. Not to mention the countless times I obliviously blew someone off without even realizing that person's interest in me.
The reasons for my reactions were varied, but the bottom line was I had my own issues I was dealing with that held me back.
I would hate to think that those guys wasted any time wondering why I didn't like them. The truth was, I did like them! It 100% had nothing to do with them - it was all me.
We are all the heroes of our own stories. And so it makes sense why you, with the clarity of your perspective, think that you are accurately assessing any given situation.
But I promise you, you are wrong. At least some of the time! We all are. A "no" or a gesture unreturned or a message ignored might feel crappy, but don't create a story about the "why". Sometimes, the why is just unknowable and oftentimes it doesn't have a thing to do with you.
3. Change your definition of rejection.
I've obviously been using the word "rejection" here, but it's a problematic word. It has emotional weight - negative emotional weight, and that has power over us.
"Rejection" feels like someone has made an assessment of your personal value as a human and found you lacking. It feels like you aren't good enough.
The reality is, you're always good enough. You might not be the right fit with a particular person, the timing might be wrong, or any number of factors you aren't aware of might be at play.
When you feel that awful, creeping feeling of being "rejected", take a deep breath and remind yourself that when the time is right, when the opportunity is right and when the person is right, you'll get the outcome you are seeking.
Until then, every "no" gets you closer to that YES. And that is a good thing.