or need approval?
The fear of rejection and need for approval can make us feel small and insecure, cause us to build superficial and dysfunctional relationships, and paralyze us with fearful rumination.
What if they don’t like me?
If I say no, will they leave me?
If I tell her the truth, will she reject me?
What if I’m not good enough for his love?
If the deal falls through, will I lose their approval?
If I don’t get the job, will I be seen as a failure and be rejected?
The fear of rejection and need for approval can drive us to self-sacrifice to impress our friends, make our parents proud, or keep up with social expectations.
When we fear rejection and need approval we say yes when we want to say no and no when we want to say yes.
Self-abandonment and self-betrayal are slippery slopes when fear of rejection and need for approval are dominant forces in our lives.
If we really dig down into the depths of the need for approval and fear of rejection, we’d hit the truth – avoiding rejection and gaining approval makes us feel secure.
We’re social, tribal creatures.
We want to belong.
Connection makes us feel safe.
Historically, rejection meant death.
Your brain’s number one job is to keep you safe and alive by getting your physical and emotional needs met. The parts of our brain that register physical pain activate when we experience social rejection.
The need for approval and fear of rejection is wired into us biologically and socially.
But we don’t have to be controlled by them.
Understanding the origin of our fear of rejection and need for approval can help us heal the past so we can be free to fully love the present.
Most days, I play a game with the Suns called Roses and Thorns.
The roses are the beautiful moments, the things that made us feel good, and experiences we’re grateful for.
The thorns are the painful parts of the day (in case you want to play the game having at least three roses to every thorn is an important ratio to have to soothe the fearful part of the brain).
When the Suns tell me about their roses there’s almost always an element of seeking approval, love, acceptance, or connection.
Kids are wired this way.
It helps them survive the sometimes, treacherous terrain of childhood.
As kids when we’re not met with approval, love, acceptance, or connection we do whatever we can to chase it down and capture it.
Fearing rejection and needing approval is an important part of getting our needs met as children.
As a child, did you receive the approval, love, acceptance, or connection you needed?
Were you met with rejection, criticism, neglect, or abandonment?
When we don’t get what we need, we develop survival strategies.
Sometimes, these survival strategies hurt us: unworthiness, self-doubt, self-abandonment, addiction, defensiveness, co-dependence, or becoming a chameleon.
Sometimes, these survival strategies help us: learning how to give the love you didn’t receive, being a loyal friend, organizing fun events for your community, establishing collaborative relationships with your co-workers, doing kind things for your partner.
If you’ve developed these helpful survival strategies … great! Research is clear that having a robust, reliable, and caring social network can add to your health and happiness.
However, if the fear of rejection and need for approval is making life harder than it needs to be, it might be time to practice a new way.
Just because we’re wired for fear doesn’t mean we need to let our brains force us into fearful living. Regardless of the origin of the need for approval and fear of rejection, you can rewire your brain to choose a new way.
Practice orienting your life around what you want, rather than what other people want or expect from you.
You don’t need approval.
It may be nice.
It may feel good.
But, you don’t need it now like you needed it then.
Want what you want.
Survive (you will).
Choose Love over Fear.do you fear rejection?