Fear of rejection phobia can be very difficult for those who suffer from it. A phobia is nothing more than an extreme, irrational fear.
Like most fears, it is not based in reality but in the creative power of your mind -- your imagination. And the more you focus on it, the bigger the problem becomes.
Sometimes taking something, especially anxiety-producing ideas, out of context, makes them easier to understand. So let me tell you about my worst fear as a child: The Tokoloshe.
The Tokoloshe, in Zulu mythology, is a dwarf-like goblin of enormous malevolent power. An evil spirit used by witches to cause trouble for people.
My mother frequently employed the “services” of the Tokoloshe to help manage her five mischievous and otherwise uncontrollable daughters, of which I was the youngest.
One day, when I was four years old, in response to our outrageous and dangerous behavior (racing our bicycles on top of our two-story Spanish tile roof) she brought home a scary looking toy and told us that IT was the Tokoloshe. He was coming to live with us! It was now HIS job to make sure we behaved.
My mom set the Tokoloshe up in the living room where he was impossible to avoid. I was terrified. Whenever I came within his gaze, with heart racing and hands sweating, I would bolt to safety.
Of course, I knew deep down that you couldn’t truly be safe from the Tokoloshe. As an evil spirit, the Tokoloshe could “get you” no matter where you go.
Though I finally resolved the situation with good behavior -- the occasional cigarette with my older sisters in the backyard notwithstanding -- the Tokoloshe continued to haunt my days and nights until I was well into my teens.
Most fears, including fear of rejection phobia, are like the Tokoloshe. Though extremely anxiety producing to us, they exist solely in our minds. Created by our imaginations, and rooted in the past, they can be undone more easily than one might think.
Take for example, fear of rejection phobia in the form of fear of “cold calling,”or getting rejected by someone you have a crush on:
What else is it other than a bodily response to a picture you created in your imagination of what MIGHT happen?
Perhaps you base this fear on something that happened in the past or something you saw in a movie. The truth being that, most of the time, what we are afraid of is not really happening – not present now --and therefore it is truly nothing.
One day when I was a teenager, I cleaned out a closet and discovered the Tokoloshe. At first sight, I shrieked and threw it on the ground, my heart pounding. For a couple of moments, I stood there feeling stupid -- but that did not keep me from being paralyzed with fear.
Finally, curiosity got the better of me. I started to wonder:
How come I was not afraid to do something as dangerous as riding a bicycle on top of a roof at high speed, yet I was terrified of something whose power I had never seen?
What was the Tokoloshe really? I wondered how it felt, how it smelled, what it looked like from up close. How could I really know the truth?
I couldn’t stand the suspense, so I took a deep breath, then went over and picked up the Tokoloshe. Only then did I see it for what it really was -- nothing more than a lifeless, plastic toy.
Isn’t that the way most fears are when we finally face them? They seem so big and terrible, we resist even looking at them so we never truly examine the situation. But once we do, we laugh at the power they used to have over us.
The easiest way to make yourself face what you fear on an ongoing basis is to become incredibly curious (at the end of this article I will direct you to an exercise that can help you get rid of phobias and deeply held fears at a subconscious level).
So what if someone says no to you? What is the worst that can happen? When someone says no to something or someone, it says a lot more about what is going on with them than you.
And what if they say yes? How about playing out the best case scenario in your mind?
The easiest, most effective way to develop curiosity is to change your internal dialog. More specifically, change the nature of the questions you ask yourself.
• Use “how” and “I wonder what would happen if” questions to stimulate curiosity and open yourself up to the best case scenario. Such as, I wonder what would happen if she says YES?
• “What if” fear-based questions can be softened by humor.
What if I get up in front of the group and I make a fool of myself? What if I get lost? What if I fail? What if he says no? What if he leaves me?
In what creative ways can I get myself excited about . . .? I wonder what would happen if he says yes? Wouldn't it be wonderful if. . .? How can I learn from this?
If you really want to clear Fear of Rejection Phobia at both the subconscious and conscious level, I would recommend the closed eye exercise Clear Your Track for Success.