Is Fear of Rejection Holding You Back? Learn 10 Surefire Ways To Move On

Is Fear of Rejection Holding You Back? Learn 10 Surefire Ways To Move On

If you are afraid of rejection, join the club. Every person has gone through this since human life came into existence. In ancient tribes, rejection would simply mean death. We all want and need to belong. It starts very young when we want to be accepted at school. As we grow up there is pressure not to be rejected by our peers, in relationships and, of course at work.

How many of us have had to open the dreaded letter or email rejecting our application for that dream job? Have you cried tears of frustration when a publisher has rejected your masterpiece? I can relate to the latter!

But if you let your fear of rejection take over your life, you may well be showing some of the following symptoms. It is a dreadful disease because it means that you will never leave your comfort zone or try anything new. This condition is holding you back. Here are the classic signs:

  • You rarely express your views openly and honestly at work or in relationships.
  • You seldom seek out new opportunities.
  • You make excuses all the time about never having enough, time, money or skills.
  • You tend to whine and complain a lot. You are the one who blames everything and everyone else without ever turning the spotlight on yourself.
  • You are inclined to please people all the time rather than clash with them. You prefer a quiet life.

Now, if you recognize a few or all of these symptoms, read on because I want to list 10 ways you can begin to conquer your fear of rejection and start to move out of your comfort zone.

1. You seize the moment

How many times have you kicked yourself for not taking action, reacting to a girl/guy’s interested look, or not applying for that better job? Lots of times, I imagine. When you find out that you were the ideal candidate or that guy/girl was also interested in you, then you start kicking yourself. Now the fear of rejection is nothing compared to the fear of regret. Nothing worse than going through life regretting all those missed chances. ‘If only… .’ is one of the most toxic viruses to affect the human brain. Seize the moment.

2. You know that rejection is not failure

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” –Thomas Edison


When you see and experience rejection, you begin to go on a downward spiral. You associate it with failure, mistakes, humiliation and depression. But if you learn that this rejection is nothing more than a blip on your radar, then you are on the right road to recovery. You plucked up your courage. The next time, you will not be nearly as scared when bringing up an issue with your manager, or approaching a problem with your partner.

3. You visualize positive outcomes with a critical lens

Lots of controversy about this one because most self-help sites encourage you to think of the positive outcome in your new venture or project. There is little reliable evidence to show that this can really work. Some new research shows that too much positive visualization may actually drain your energy because you feel more relaxed, and you will not reach your goals. There is a fascinating article on this in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.

It seems that the best solution may be to look at the outcome from a 360 degree viewpoint so that you can summon up enough energy. You can also prevent tricking the brain into thinking that you have achieved your objective. A more critical visualization process envisages the following:

  • Picture positive outcomes.
  • Assess the obstacles.
  • Reflect on lessons learned from setbacks.
  • Plan the steps and timing to reach the goals.

4. You control your negative thoughts and benefit enormously

Looking at the positive outcome will help to control all the other negative emotions which will haunt us day in and day out. I am thinking here of anger, resentment, humiliation, stress, and guilt.

Do these really affect the way we live and work? Barbara Frederickson, a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, has conducted some interesting research on this.

She found that the negative emotions such as fear and anger lead nowhere. But the positive emotions such as gratitude, joy and love helps to broaden your outlook in the following ways:


  • You begin to see new opportunities.
  • You are more open to other options.
  • You are encouraged to build your skills to exploit all these new possibilities.
  • You are able to use your own resources better.

Most of the research in this area shows that positive thinking can really add value to your life.

5. You are not afraid of taking risks

Maybe you think that hiding your failures will be a useful camouflage for your resume?  Think again. According to an article in Business Week, head hunters are now actively seeking those who a have experience of failure and success and who are not afraid to reveal it. The reasoning is simple in that those who are prepared to take risks, learn from failure and move on have gained invaluable experience.

According to some large companies such as Virgin Atlantic and General Electric, great success depends on great risk. Failure is a minor by product.

Analyzing failure means looking at the risks you need to take in future. You may need to discover more about your partner, your customers or your team. Try making a list of mini risks you need to take to assess what is wrong or what can be improved. You may have to approach the problem in a completely different way.

6. You do not take things too personally

You know that setbacks and episodes of rejection are just small incidents along the path of life. You know how to move on and seek out new opportunities which may open up new vistas and opportunities. If you are too introspective, you will never be able to take these brave steps of starting over.

If you watch Downton Abbey, you will remember that the characters who have been rejected do so with grace and dignity. We should try and follow their example.


7.  You know how to cope with fear in a relationship

Maybe your relationship with your loved one is being dominated by fear. There are many fears which can cover loneliness, boredom, failure, helplessness, poverty, or aging. All too often, these fears are never talked about openly but camouflaged. You know you or your partner have problems when remarks like these dominate the conversation:

  • Why can’t you ever be optimistic, for a change?
  • You are always the one who decides how much we spend
  • Oh you are always worried about something
  • You were the one who decided where we should go on holiday

The secret is to talk openly about these fears so each partner is aware of the other’s feelings.

Try to voice your fears in a neutral way. Use ‘we’ rather than ‘you’ or ‘I’. Talk about how you react in certain situations and why you feel like that.  Ask your partner how s/he feels and is there any reason for reacting the way they do. If there are financial worries, work out practical ways of how you both can be thriftier.

8. You are prepared to move out of your comfort zone

“Every time we choose safety, we reinforce fear.”- Cheri Huber

Often, you have to make a decision which will involve moving outside those safe, comfort zones. You may have to say something you feel strongly about at a meeting at work. You may have to work part-time to make ends meet. You may have relocated and will have to make new friends. You may have to learn new skills fast to keep that new job.

Just imagine if you had chosen the safe option in each of those scenarios. Well, you would still be in that boring, dead end job.


9. You have rejected perfection but you aim for excellence

Perfection is never a realistic ambition. You have to adjust your goals, ambitions and skills set to match the task in hand. Always aim for excellence.

You cannot expect perfection because it simply does not exist.  If you read Barry Schwartz’s book ‘The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less’, he cites examples of people at risk of depression and severe stress. They all have one thing is common; they have perfectionist tendencies.

10. You are aware that the real you is not your job or position

Workaholics make the mistake of giving their all to their job. It is a gross error because they are denying that there is a real person underneath who needs to love and cherish their passions, their friends and family. They hide their ethics, values and dreams. The person who copes with rejection knows that there is life beyond work, setbacks, failure and rejection.

Think about the above ten points which will help you get your fear of rejection into perspective. Once you do that, you can really say with conviction ‘And next?’ Nothing can hold you back now!

Featured photo credit: Starry night/ADD via

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.


But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.


Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.


The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.


I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.


More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via


[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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