Handling the fear of rejection in business
I’m/it’s not good enough... Fear of rejection is understandable. We all want to be wanted or needed. When we put our business, our services, or our product out there and forward for all to see – we put ourselves out there. Wide open for criticism and/or rejection. And when that happens, it’s a reflection on ourselves.
Or so goes the story we tell ourselves!
The irony is that having a Psychology degree did not immunise me from this. In fact, in about 2009 I started going through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for anxiety symptoms. Anxiety is the emotion driven by fear. I continue the practice to this day through mindfulness.
Now, before you stop there and go ‘that’s it, I’m out, she’s gone all spiritual on me’, you should know that CBT is the best available therapy for fear & anxiety. It works, but the clincher is that you have to work at it.
The benefit is that it works for any fear as it revolves around challenging that shitty thinking/recording you have inside your head. The soundtrack that’s stopping you from taking that next step.
These steps might seems simplistic and I encourage you that should you feel overwhelmed at any time to reach out to your local mental health team such as Beyond Blue for support.
So how does it work for the fear of rejection in business?
Best you grab a note pad or start your voice recorder for this.
Acknowledge the fear of rejection
Yes, you have to address the elephant in the room. If you don’t acknowledge it then how can you overcome it? So in this instance you acknowledge that you are afraid that no one will book you, or that they will hate your new product, or that they think you’re a stuck up snob, or that they will find someone better/younger/cheaper.
All you have to do is acknowledge it. You are NOT to enter into that slippery downwards spiral that is feeding the fear.
Record your fear of rejection
Yes, you need to write down or record all the actual evidence of when you were rejected in the way you fear. Not the scenarios when you believe or fear it will happen, it MUST be when it actually DID happen.
Now write down ALL the times where you weren’t rejected. EVERY SINGLE ONE.
Reframe the fear of rejection
Now look at the rejection list and consider:
-How much of that was actually your doing, or
-Were there outside forces in play that lead to the negative situation.
-Did you do all you could?
-Is it actually likely to recur?
-Was it really a rejection or was it a ‘not now’
It’s often that what we believe and perceive differ considerably from the reality. In this step you need to be incredibly objective and clinical. You need to be able to step out of your emotions and really analyse what is making up your fear of rejection.
The other thing to consider is that sometimes the reasons we come up with aren’t really the reasons at all. They are the superficial, the acceptable, the common place, and the mask. Ask yourself, ‘Is that really so? Is there anything else?” Consider anything and everything that you come up with and ask the questions again. Dig deeper until your mind is blank and you have annoyed yourself with the badgering.
This is probably one of the most challenging steps. Well done for getting through it.
Reconsider your fear of rejection
Now is the time to go back to that list of the evidence on why you were afraid and consider:
-How reasonable are your fears?
-Are they realistic?
-Is the person feeding your fears actually achieving what you are in the same circumstances?
-Are their opinions actually valid or is it that you believe that you ‘should’ listen to them?
-So what? Does it really matter what they think or believe?
Now weigh this up against the fear. Is the fear actually as large or valid as you first believed?
Do you have people around you who believe in you and what you do? Do you have clients who purchase from you? Do you have people who look to you for guidance & inspiration? These are the ones who count, not the naysayers.
If you don’t feel supported, find a group of people who will lift you up. Find your tribe. If you’re unsure, I am more than willing to help you find your tribe.
Next step with your fear of rejection
Once you have gone through this process, which takes soul searching and addressing your fearful beliefs on your ability the next step is simple.
Asked & answered
When you are next confronted with one of the scenarios or reasons previously identified all you need do is acknowledge and let the fear pass you by. See you’ve already addressed that fear, you know that the thought behind it is flawed and now you can let it pass you by as it has been: Asked & Answered.
Moving forward with your fear of rejection
I promise you that doing this exercise once will not cure you. You will have to repeat the process time and again. And while this is an abridged version, the premise is the same: identify, challenge, reframe, reconsider.
I will promise you that it gets easier and that once mastered, you can apply this to almost any fear or anxiety. Allowing you and your business to grow & prosper. Again, if at any time you feel overwhelmed I encourage you to reach out to your local mental health team such as Beyond Blue for support.