Relationship Advice Tips For Rejection Sensitivity by Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.
Delia is anxious about being rejected
Two hours before her friends arrived for Friday night festivities Delia freaked out! What would they think of her still in her work clothes? What would they imagine about her disorganized place, and food in various stages of preparation messing up the kitchen? Pleasure and anxiety took turns in sweeping through Delia as her mind raced between enjoying their company and seeing their disapproving looks and hearing their judgmental voices.
In a blink of an eye Delia made sure that her lens, antennae and receiver were tuned into anticipating rejection.
In those few seconds Delia made sure that she wouldn’t be receptive to their warmth.
In an instant Delia had written, produced and directed a tragedy that was about to be staged in her home.
Delia was convinced that her friends would see the mess and reject her.
Delia equated the food and her work clothes with the person she was, believing it would all be unappetizing. Her friends would avoid talking to her for more than a polite minute or two. They would prefer the others.
Friends arrived in a jovial mood, bringing pot luck and making themselves at home. Delia expected them to react negatively to her disorganized living room and messy kitchen, so she was guarded, aloof and mechanical as she greeted her guests.
How do you think Delia’s friends felt when they arrived?
They were confused!
What have we done to make her icy cold?
Are we not wearing the right clothes, make up, jewelry or perfume?
Did we forget something? Did we upset Delia without knowing it?
Delia’s fear of rejection sent out vibes of uncertainty to her friends.
They became guarded and cautious.
Delia is deeply hurt when she feels rejected by her friends
Delia interpreted their caution as supporting her worst fears of rejection.
She was being rejected again! Her self-esteem vanished and she went through the rest of the evening pretending to enjoy herself. She saw the warmth and laughter that her friends shared with each other and felt left out, hurt and worthless.
Delia suffered from rejection sensitivity
A study in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, (2009) reported that people like Delia who have a high level of rejection sensitivity experience a massive diminution of their self-concept after a perceived rejection. Delia felt rejected by her friends who were guarded with her. What she didn’t realize was that her expectation of judgment and disapproval led her to anticipate rejection. Her stiffness and robot like manner ensured that it was exactly what she got.
A self-fulfilling prophecy in action.
The same study found that having a conflict on any given day contributed enormously to a much reduced self-esteem the following day in those with high rejection sensitivity.
Delia had struggled with a conflict for over a day. Should she be herself and not worry about her work clothes, messy kitchen, exotic recipes and tidy house OR push herself to look the part of the perfect hostess?
The conflict never got resolved. The only way Delia got relief was to put the focus on her friends’ expected negative reactions. It worked. She felt rejected and stopped the love, care and warmth from reaching her.
How can Delia become more open to love and less sensitive to rejection?
Delia wouldn’t have any friends if she was not likeable, lovable and fun to be with. So it isn’t the people out there who are the source of the problem.
Tuning into her feelings of conflict will help Delia locate the problem where it belongs. Delia herself doubts the attractiveness of her personality. Her friends have already endorsed her as someone they want to spend time with
Rejection sensitivity disappears when looking through the lens of friends
Best strategy for dealing with rejection sensitivity
Looking at herself through the eyes of her friends is the most helpful strategy Delia can implement. Then she will see that she is just like them, humorous, sexy, interesting, lazy, irritable and impatient – with all the shades in between.
Instead of imagining that her friends see her through her own negative eyes, all Delia needs to do is shift her focus and see herself through the lens that her friends use. No more rejection or loss of self-esteem. Just acceptance for the lovable person she is.
Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.
Disclaimer: this article is for informational and educative purposes only. Dr. Raymond is not responsible for any reaction you may experience while reading the article or using the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.