The Fear of Rejection — How to stop taking the opinion of other’s personally
At some point in our lives, we’ve all felt criticized, judged, avoided, rejected, or ignored. And more often than not, rather than ignoring somebody’s possibly impolite behavior, we take it personally. A client once told me that he felt extremely angry and disrespected when people didn’t notice him walking on the sidewalk, bumped into him, or just obstructed his way. He also observed that frequently waiters in restaurants deliberately ignored him when he tried to catch their attention. Another client noticed that people always attacked her. Whether she was at work or at the shopping mall, everybody seemed to be so rude and negative toward her that she began to wonder if there was something seriously wrong with her.
Carl Jung coined the concept of “perception is projection.” Whatever we perceive in others is predominately a reflection of what is going on within ourselves. When we’re in a splendid mood, the world appears a much friendlier place than when we’re depressed or irritated. This has to do with the filters of our subconscious, which delete, distort, and generalize the input from our environment. I’m happy to report that we’re all in the same boat—meaning, everybody projects onto everybody else. So, theoretically, you can’t take somebody else’s opinion, good or bad, personally, because that opinion says more about them than about you.
Instead of reacting to judgment or unfriendly behavior with self-doubt or hurt, imagine what might be the cause for the others’ behavior. Is it possible that they are insecure themselves, that they feel ignored, rejected, or criticized? Maybe they’re dealing with tremendous stress in their lives and aren’t even fully aware of anything or anybody else. It could also be that they’ve just had a bad day and feel tired, frustrated, or lonely. Make sure that your story opens the way for more compassion for them and understanding about what may be at the root of this person’s behavior. Although you may never find out what was really going on, you’ll find out that your initial, self-deflating reactions quickly disappear.
Taking things personally can be an opportunity to gain greater insights about ourselves and what we may still have to work on. We take most to heart are often those things with which we struggle the hardest. So whenever you’re reacting with insecurity to something another person has done or said to you, check with yourself to see if there’s a lingering self-limiting belief deep inside that needs to be addressed. This way, you can see the person who prompted you to discover a residual limiting belief as a teacher and a catalyst for self-empowerment. And you can turn anger and anxiety into acceptance and appreciation.