avoid rejection

Avoid Rejection: turning the experience into a friend rather than a foe

by Lizzy Doole

Rejection: we must avoid rejection at all costs. Shouldn’t we? A lot of the time, it’s not actual rejection that’s the problem, but our fear of rejection which is the thing that holds us back and makes us want to avoid rejection; whether it’s that interesting idea that could be turned into a business, applying for that new job or putting yourself out there for dates… the list could go on.

It had been a while since I had been on a proper date, so the other week I plucked up the courage to give a blind date a chance.  It was a ‘friend-of-a-friend’ type situation, so I was hopeful that I would have a good time, even if it didn’t progress into anything.  Despite this, I still felt so nervous; I had butterflies (or rather large moths with huge sledge hammers) in my stomach.  It was a huge deal for me to put myself out there again, after a hurt from a previous relationship.  I had all sorts of fearful thoughts that made me want to run for the hills: What if I get hurt again? What if he doesn’t like me? What is going on with my hair?? So when I got the text cancelling the date on my way up to see him, with what was a rather obvious and very lame excuse, well I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Part of the fear of rejection is that we equate it with failure. I think that’s one of the key reasons we try to avoid rejection. Our thinking process goes something like this: if someone doesn’t want to go out with me, there must be something wrong with me.  Often, it is our own feelings about ourselves that are amplified when we are rejected.  If you already feel that you are unworthy of love, than a rejection is simply supporting your negative (and inaccurate) self-image.  Always remember that there really isn’t something wrong with you if you experience rejection, after all, we all experience rejection at points in our lives.  Never take it personally; you are a wonderful person with all the unique qualities that make you, you.  All it really means is that you both didn’t quite fit.  And the good thing about that? It means there is someone else even better out there for you.

We have all made mistakes in our lives, but every time we have, we (hopefully) learned from those mistakes and used them as opportunities to learn and grow.  Take for instance, Richard Branson.  He had 14 businesses which failed.  But did that stop him from creating the hugely successful Virgin brand we have today? He certainly didn’t avoid rejection and he’s as human as the rest of us. Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper job when he was younger, being told that he wasn’t creative enough, only to go onto become one of the most creative icons of the 20th Century. Bill Gates’ first company was a complete disaster and he’s now worth approximately £50 billion pounds.  Each time these great figures failed, they didn’t let this stop them from trying; instead they saw these as learning curves rather than failures – lessons to be learnt in order to improve until they succeeded.

The same applies to dating.  If you continually find yourself in the same situation, take a step back and look at why this might be happening, rather than letting it corrode your self-belief.  Is it that you keep going for the wrong partner? Do you jump into relationships too quickly and scare off potential dates? Try to learn from past situations; if these didn’t work for you in the past, why don’t you try doing something different.  Why don’t you contact that guy who you aren’t passionately attracted to, but actually might treat you really well? Why not take it slowly and get to know a woman, by writing and phoning before moving on to meeting up? It all comes down to how we feel about ourselves.  Have faith that you will find that special person and be treated in the best way you deserve.

So what was my lesson learnt?

I wallowed for a night, watched Sleepless in Seattle (bad idea) and The Notebook (really bad idea) and then I cried some more. But when I woke up the next morning, I made a decision – to get up, brush myself down and try again. Not to dwell or obsess as I might have done in the past – what did I do wrong? Should I ring him? What did he not like about me?  Instead, I chose to let it go. He wasn’t the right One. As one of my favourite sayings goes, ‘We accept the love we think we deserve’.  I deserve to be loved wholeheartedly. And if someone is not treating me the way I should be, then I will not let this drag me down; I will move on.  I picked myself up and got out there again – and I’m now looking forward to another date this weekend!

Just like any other part of our lives, rejection is an evitable part of the process of dating.  This is because when we risk anything, there is a chance it might not work out.  But failing shows that at least you’ve tried.  Without trying you will never get where you need to go.  Dating means opening yourself up to vulnerability and putting yourself out there where you could get hurt again.  Yes you could hurt, but you might not. And if you do, turn this into a positive experience – what can you learn to make the next relationship even better?

So try it from today; take that step into the unknown and out of your comfort zone.  Try contacting those profiles you have received rather than waiting for them to contact you, even if you’re not sure they are quite right.  You never know; it just takes one.  As for me: I will find him one day. But in the meantime, I will keep on trying and making those mistakes; crying, learning, and laughing all the way.