The fear of rejection is prevalent among many men, especially those living in New York City, particularly because men are expected to do the pursuing during courtship, and due to the bombardment by popular culture of figures that resemble Greek gods. My male clients, and even many female clients, often complain about the dating scene in NYC and their perceived competition. So, I wanted to follow up my previous posts on the toxicity of self-esteem and cultivating self-compassion (where I argued for the necessity of substituting a self-worth based on accomplishments and/or qualities with unconditional self-acceptance) with one on confidence, elucidating the notion that you and only you have the real power of devaluing and elevating your self-image.
This may, at first, seem like an unusual, and even ridiculous idea; but, give yourself a few minutes to read through my explanation; I promise it will be worth it. Whenever we’re rejected, or rather turned down, by someone we attempt to date, or yes, even sleep with, the thing we tend to do is beat ourselves up afterward, which is the consequence that we actually fear. Like Pavlov’s dog, who later salivated at the sound of a bell in the absence of food, our brains have associated perceived rejection with the subsequent damage that we do to ourselves; our self-hate and condemnation is what we really fear! The exterior rejection is nothing more than a bell, and we can teach ourselves to disassociate one from the other, rejection from self-debasement and criticism; thus, extinguishing our rejection fears.
The next step: how to disconnect the two. Now, if the objects of our fear are self-inflicted wounds, if they comprise the real damage and pain we’re trying to avoid, conversely, that implies that we have, also, the power to pick ourselves up, even after feeling down, all of this indicating the power we hold to manage our self-images and our levels of confidence. In order to disconnect the two I highly recommend reading my pervious articles on self-esteem and self-compassion, because in them you’ll learn about the actual subjectiveness, rather than objectiveness, of our self-values, and how we can learn to love and accept ourselves, flaws and all. But, to touch on them briefly, reminding yourself that self-worth is subjective, rather than being based on some objective standard, and can be sustained it by simply valuing yourself because you’re a person or can be eliminated altogether; the point is that you’re in control!
Rejection often hurts, but it doesn’t have to as much as it does. People often reject others for minor things, or even because they’re having a bad day, or because they think you’re a bad match, but, the truth is they don’t know you; only you do! How can some stranger ever know of the breadth and the depth of the being that makes up the lovable and charming person you are? They can’t. In reality, you’re the only person who can evaluate your traits and judge whether you’re worthy, or valuable. I argue that judgments should be limited to behaviors, thoughts, and feelings in light of how beneficial they are to success; but, if you are going to value yourself based on traits, which are just behaviors, I recommend taking in a full assessment of your strengths and weaknesses, reminding yourself that just like everyone else, you have both, and that you have strengths that others don’t.
Beauty and intelligence are contextually based; they don’t exist in any absolute sense (they aren’t and can’t be objectively true), and the perception of both in another can be altered by the confidence level which he or she manifests, making the concepts even more flexible (and subjective), putting you even more in control. So, whenever you’re rejected by someone, remind yourself that they don’t know you, because only you can fully know you, and that your self-value can be whatever you want it to be, whether you base it on your set of personal values, and live up to or just constantly aspire to them, the fact that you’re human, or don’t value yourself or others at all, because we’re ever-changing creatures whose characteristics are hard to pin-down. The greatest lesson I’ve ever learned was from someone who recounted his story of persistent and traumatic bullying as a child. This individual said that what helped him most was simply not believing what his bullies said to him; it was that simple.