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Stop Fearing Rejection

I can’t blog about eating without mentioning feelings and I can’t speak about them without talking about rejection which often propels us right toward the cookie jar. The problem isn’t rejection per se, but the (negative) meaning you make of it because you’ve either had too much or too little of it. So here’s the best way to view rejection.

Advice Goddess Amy Alkon says it better than I ever could in her Sarasota Herald-Tribune column of 6/12/14 (page 49E). Responding to a letter from a man complaining about being rejected by a woman, she speaks of being “rejection-avoidant” which means steering clear of situations in which you might be hit with a “no.” Says Alkon, “constantly flipping the bird at your fears and taking social risks is how you get okay enough with rejection to live your life like you’ll be dead soon instead of like you’re dead now…Getting comfortable in Rejectionville is easier if your self-worth comes from the inside. This is something you may need to work toward. But even if you can’t immediately stop seeing every rejection as confirming your loser-hood, you can at least stop acting as if you do…Acknowledge disappointment, lick wounds, move on. Before long, you should be bouncing back surprisingly fast.”

Put another way, handling rejection takes practice and you don’t get it if you’re not out there on the playing field. The goal is to acknowledge the ping of rejection, then let it go. Think about it—by being rejection-avoidant, you evade the pain of rejection, but not the pain of fearing it’s around every corner. Some trade off, huh?

But what if as a child you had too much rejection? The time rejection hurts most is of course in childhood when we misinterpret being rebuffed as proof of our lack of value or lovability. But was that the correct meaning for what was happening or is the truth that were you dealing with unhealthy people who didn’t or couldn’t care for you effectively? The latter, of course. Rejection is nothing more than people not wanting to buy what you’re selling. It has zero to do with the value of what you’re selling. It only means that people are not in the market for that particular thing for any number of their own reasons. Think of the times you’ve rejected something or someone because it wasn’t right for you. It doesn’t mean it wasn’t right at all or right for someone else. Or do you never reject anything or anyone because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings?

Practice taking risks and tolerating rejection and you’ll have one less reason to eat emotionally. You may never like being rebuffed, but you’ll stop fearing and avoiding it.