They say that man’s biggest fears are fear of rejection and fear of public speaking. No matter how confident you are or how famous you become, it seems that we all share these two fears. Anthony Robbins is one of America’s most famous life coaches, he put ‘life coaching’ on the map and has worked with some very famous people including a few presidents from different countries, yet he still has bouts of fear. He says that every time he has to go out on a stage to speak, he has to psyche himself up for about an hour to gather enough courage and nerve to go out there and face his audience.
The way I see it, is that fear of public speaking comes from a fear of rejection, fear that the audience may not like you or not like what you have to say. So ultimately it means then that man has one big fear, that being a fear of rejection. But why?……..what is it that makes us so scared of rejection? We as human beings have lots of needs; food, shelter; companionship, etc.….. the most basic of our needs is that we want to be loved and accepted. It’s not just a need, but an absolute necessity to survive and thrive. They say that love can conquer all, studies have shown that even if babies are given the best nourishment that they cannot and do not thrive if they are not given love and physical touch. Damaged people are created by a lack of love and a lack of acceptance, specifically when they were children.
So yesterday I had a bit of a ‘wobbly’ which is what got me thinking about all of this. I am a very confident person and have taken years to get to a point where I really like, love and accept myself and have not needed anyone else’s validation or approval, yet yesterday some little voice from my past decided to make itself known leaving me feeling insecure and a little out of sorts. Being the analytical human behaviourist that I am, I had to wonder, ‘whose voice was in my head’? Whose voice was I allowing to invade my bubble of happiness and put doubts into my usual happy-go-lucky level-headed head? Now, this was a difficult one to answer as all our little insecurities, fears, feelings of worth etc. stem from our childhood and the experiences we have had growing up. For instance, if someone was mean to you on the school playground when you were 6 years old and if the incident made an impact on you; until you deal with it, there are going to be times in your adult life that your mind and body will react the same way that little 6 year old did. Life is built on memories, our memories create feelings and when we find ourselves in a similar situation that created that first memory, our bodies and minds are intent on throwing us back (mentally) to that same revolting incident leaving us feeling like insecure little 6-year olds all over again. It’s like when I am in close range to a strange dog, my body freezes and I feel pins and needles crawling all over my skin. My body and mind remembers and reacts to the memory of a Dalmatian jumping on me, biting me and ripping my dress when I was 12 years old. It takes a conscious effort to tell myself to relax and to breathe so that I can move forward and not become dog meat.
Okay so coming back to my wobbly yesterday. Yesterday I revealed a small detail of my past to someone who could potentially become a good friend and for the rest of the day, I felt insecure and vulnerable and when questioning my feelings discovered that they stemmed from nothing else but a fear of rejection. Fear that I would be judged based on my past, fear that a different impression would be created because it. You see most of our lives are lived for the approval of others. We constantly try to live up to other people’s expectations and according to other people’s values. Now naturally this comes from the way we were raised by our parents, our teachers and our communities and from the way people react to us. At home and at school, if you misbehaved, you were punished. In the playground, if you were different to ‘cool’ kids, you were rejected or made fun of. Society told us we were bad if we did not follow its rules. Our entire lives as children, teenagers and young adults are spent trying to make a mark on the world and trying to be accepted by those around us.
I will never forget the day someone told me that I should wear a ‘warning label’. That the world was not ready for such an honest direct person like myself and that I should learn to be politically correct. I was basically told that I should learn to tell people what they want to hear and not what I was thinking, that I needed to learn ‘to play the game’, which would apparently get me a lot further in life. Ok, so does this mean that I should be like one of the “Idols hopefuls” parents that encourage their children to sing, knowing full well that they cannot keep a note and that their children are going to make complete and utter idiots of themselves on international TV and be devastated when some feeling-less judge tells them in no uncertain terms that they need to stick to whistling? Is it not better to hear it from someone they love that they are gifted in other ways? And when did the world become so ridiculous that ‘by playing the game’ and being totally dishonest and telling other people what they want to hear, that it gets your further in life than being an honest person. Is it because people do not have the ability to be honest with themselves and therefore do not dare to hear someone else’s honesty. Surely honesty is something that we can learn from and grow from? When did being honest make you a bad person versus living a lie and being rewarded for it?
When did ‘playing the game’ to win others approval become more important than being the star in your own game? Imagine a world where we were all honest and open, where we lived our lives the way we saw fit and did what made us happy. I predict there would be no depression, no anger, less road-rage, no illness, no crime and a hell of a lot more fun and loving. I’m not saying that you should live your life in a way that hurts or infringes on others, what I am saying is that we should all allow ourselves to be who we are without fear of rejection. For instance, I’m a very spontaneous person who will compliment you if I think your hair looks nice or if the blue in your shirt brings out your eyes. If you have other talents, I will compliment you on those too. If I’m fond of you, I will probably end up calling you a pet name or two. However, if I feel offended by something you say or do, I will also tell you, in a nice way, that I did not like what you said or did or that it hurt my feelings. Now the ‘politically’ correct person would probably only compliment you so as to gain your approval which is ultimately to manipulate you so that they can get something from you.
One thing that I have learnt in life is that the more you like who you are, the more others will too. ‘Bad boys’ attract women like moths to a flame, the pure reason being that bad boys live their lives the way they see fit and we are always attracted to people who gives themselves the liberty to do so. If someone does not like your honesty, your spontaneity or your direct approach, that’s fine, move on as your are bound to find a host of other people that will like you just the way you are. There is no need to live in fear of judgement or rejection, if you get judged or rejected by another it’s ultimately because they judge or reject themselves and why would you want to be with someone, or be friends with someone, who does not like or accept themselves?
When that little voice in your head wants to make itself heard, silence it or as my dear friend Anita says, ‘put it back in its box’. Your past is what made you who you are today. All your choices – good and bad; your successes and your mistakes, your genius and your stupidity, all the relationships you’ve had – good and bad. If you have learnt from them and become a better person because of them, then celebrate it! Don’t allow yourself to live in fear that people will reject you because of past mistakes. Use all your past experiences to become a better, wiser, happier person. Forgive yourself, forgive others, move on, stop living in the past and stop wasting time merely existing, life is for the living! Enjoy each day, be excited by challenges, they help you to grow and to enjoy life to the fullest.
Dance as if no one is watching
Sing like no one is listening
Love as if you’ve never been hurt
Live as if every day were your last
As that famous saying goes ‘Carpe Diem’ – seize the day!