This month’s Courage Challenge is about facing the fear of rejection by asking for what you want. Why are we so afraid of rejection?
Rejection is not even real. It is not concrete nor physical. Yet somehow we are too afraid of it. We allow it to hurt us, to repress our desires and to diminish our dreams. How many of us allow ourselves to rather suffer in silence than confront whoever is causing the pain or ask someone to help us get out of that situation? How many of us are afraid to ask these questions:
Will you help me?
Will you give me this break?
Will you let me take a turn?
Will you go out with me?
Will you accept my offer?
Will you hear out my idea?
Sometimes, we hide this fear behind humility or a false sense of entitlement. But guess what? We deserve what we desire. We deserve our dream. We deserve what we want. It is self-entitlement if we are not willing to work for what we want. But asking for it? That’s not self-entitlement. That’s taking control of our dreams, of our life.
I also see that the size of our fear of rejection is inversely proportional to the size of our self-esteem. The lower our self-esteem, the more afraid we are to ask. I know this from experience. At a time in my life when I was battling with depression and my confidence tank is almost depleted, I was also too scared to ask for help.
My toddler is a shy little girl. She is easily petrified by a new environment or a large crowd of unfamiliar faces. She quickly hides in her shell (we literally see her duck her head into her imaginary shell like a crab) when confronted by a nice stranger even when we are right beside her. How we are helping her work on her confidence is for another post. But I’m sharing this because this kind of personality is more likely to be afraid of rejection, and where a “no” can do more damage.
An example: we were at the Children’s Museum last weekend. She was falling in line to drive the “bus” in one of the play areas there. The kid who was on the driver’s seat was taking so long with his turn and didn’t care about the little girl who is beginning to sulk as the excitement of being the next one becomes too unbearable. My girl started dealing with this emotion the only way she knows — the toddler way, which is start crying and throw a fit. I stopped it before it starts. I sat beside her to talk with her at her eye level. I told her that she can either wait or ask the driver if she can take a turn now. She was at first appalled by the idea that she will demand this for herself, on her own. I gave her another nudge with a slight nod. I told her, nothing is going to change if she doesn’t try. So very shyly, head down, she approached the boy on the driver seat, and whispered in her usual sweet voice, “can I take a turn, please?”. You can barely hear her because of the noise typical in a play area. But (thankfully!), the driver immediately gave his seat to her and moved on to another interesting part of the bus. He didn’t show any resentment. It wasn’t as big a deal for him as it is for her. He was too happy to find something new. I was so glad it turned out positively, so I can prove my point to her. “See, it wasn’t so bad. You only need to ask.” If it turned into a rejection, I was prepared with my back up speech, too. “It’s okay. Your situation didn’t change for the worse. It’s your next turn anyway.”
I know that this moment with the toddler was another learning moment not only for her, but for me who is also still working on this month’s Courage Challenge. Yes, I shamefully admit, my toddler was braver than me for giving it a shot. This is a scenario that happens even in our adult world, even when we are aware that a rejection cannot kill us. Yet somehow, the thought of asking paralyzes us. The thought of a “no” is more unbearable than pain.
Rejection is only a concept that resides in our mind. The person who does the rejection, the one who says no, is highly unlikely aware of the impact of his so-called rejection to you. Don’t feel so embarrassed by it. Rejection does not hurt us unless we allow it.
//How about you? Is there something that you’ve been meaning to ask but never got the courage to utter the question? How are you working on it?