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Forget sharks, snakes, and heights... nothing can hold you back from your full potential quite like the fear of rejection.

Fear of rejection can limit your success, stunt your progress and keep all your talents, hopes, and dreams so far from reach that you end up taking them to the grave.

Whether it is the fear of public speaking, fear of going after something you want, fear of making a fool of yourself, or something else you are afraid of, it can be enough to attack you from all different angles and leave you completely paralyzed.

Many of us walk around with fear as the main driver of our destinies.  The problem is that we fear the wrong things.  It can dominate every thought, action, and belief that you have at any given time.

The good news is that conquering the fear of rejection is possible. You don’t have to let it run your life. But in order to overcome it, you need to understand what it is, where it comes from, and what it takes to face it. Read on to learn about the different types of fears and how to overcome them in sales.


Why Does Fear of Rejection Exist?

Fear of rejection can stem from setbacks that impact your confidence and security in your skills, personality, appearance, performance, and more. Sales professionals who have fear of rejection often think what if they hang up on me? what if they say no? what if I'm not ready to close this big account? There are tons of situations in sales where rejection comes into play.

The key to overcoming the fear of rejection is to start with recognizing that you have that fear and then start to make conscious steps on how to fix it. Let's cover the top ways I advise my clients to tackle this fear.


Fear One: Innate Fears

The first type of fear is universal, innate fear. Everybody has them on some level because they are born into us – in fact, most of them serve some kind of survival purpose. Innate fears often help us to avoid physical pain or death. Humans are born with a fear of spiders and snakes because we are wired to avoid things that can harm us, in the case of spiders and snakes this takes the form of biting and injecting venom into our bodies. No one ever taught you not to fear these creatures. The same goes for being afraid of flying, heights, darkness, or scary dogs. We are wired to understand that these things pose an inherent danger and aren’t safe. As we evolve as a species, some of the fears evolve with us, mostly to protect us from real danger.

However, we can also conquer these fears and even ignore them if we choose. That’s why we’re able to climb mountains, fly planes, and train dogs. And at the same time, these innate fears aren’t likely to keep you from success. You aren’t likely to cripple your career with your fear of spiders. So, instead of confronting these fears, you can choose to continue adapting or avoiding, as most humans do. This is not the fear that generally holds us back.



Fear Two: Identity Fears

The second set of fears has also developed with us as we have evolved. These are fears that have to do with our identities, often referred to as limiting beliefs. Primarily, they manifest as fears of being judged by others. The fear of public speaking is a great example, or the fear of cold calling. At the root of it, it is the fear of rejection. Other people will see how incompetent you are and you will lose their respect. The fear of being wrong and the fear of rejection stem from the same place. You are embarrassed when you make a mistake because rejection hurts - it can be hard for anyone to accept.

Identity fear isn't about physical pain or death like our innate fears. But it is still a powerful fear. You feel the physical effects of identity fears. Imagining that you will lose the respect of your peers can actually hurt. It can raise your blood pressure, make you feel hot and agitated, make you cry, etc. The emotional and psychological pain that fear of rejection can cause is real – but it doesn’t actually put you in any grave danger.

What identity fears all have in common is that they pose a threat to our standing in the community. We live, survive, and thrive in tribes. We want to have a firmly established place in our peer group and society because we depend on others for companionship, support, and survival. Identity fears come from the real danger that you could be ostracized from the tribe. In the past, no one could survive alone in the jungle – so these fears still feel like they pose a real threat to our survival.


Bonus: Love and Connection Fears

Fears related to love and connection serve a slightly different purpose, but they are really a subset of the fear of rejection. You might fear being alone, being abandoned, or being rejected. Trust issues show up in this category, too. You can fear commitment, which is often an avoidance of the fear of rejection or feeling the pain of disappointment. You might also fear intimacy because you fear being hurt. The fears around identity, love, and connection can combine and become even more complex, like when a person doesn’t believe they are worthy of love.


Stop Fear From Holding You Back

The first step to conquering the fear of rejection is understanding what you are afraid of. Anything you fear falls into one of these categories. If you fear taking an action that you know you need to take, it's time for a little self-discovery. Start by asking yourself what it is you really fear.

The fears around identity and love are generally our strongest limiting beliefs. They are the ones that keep us from achieving our biggest wishes.

You might say, “I don’t want to publish this blog post because it’s not ready.” But what is the actual fear behind that? You say, “Someone might not like it; it might not be good enough; it might be full of errors, etc.” And what if you’re right? What then? “Someone might share it with other people and point out my errors. They might judge my mistakes. They might think less of me.” They might. So what? Are those mistakes definitely going to keep you from succeeding? Absolutely not. These are just self-limiting beliefs. What WILL absolutely keep you from succeeding is never doing anything at all.

Fear of rejection stifles progress and will hold you back from all significant accomplishments and victories. There is nothing worth doing that doesn’t strike a little bit of fear in your heart – and this applies to everything - work, art, love, even life in general. There is nothing more satisfying in life than knowing that you tried your hardest and gave your all. Don’t let fear stop you from doing that.

Recognizing the Types of Fear: How To Move Beyond Overcoming the Fear of Rejection

Fear is your servant. It is here to prevent you from being harmed by real dangers. You cannot allow it to become your master and prevent you from taking the actions you need to take, or it will keep you from success and happiness. Fear is the number one obstacle. Conquering the fear of rejection is one of the most difficult challenges you will ever experience and one of the most important ones you will ever overcome, especially in modern sales. Good thing you were born with everything it takes to do this.   Download our free guide to cold-calling and take your first step in confronting your fears today.

Sales 2019
Post by Anthony Iannarino on May 31, 2019

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. He is the author of four books on the modern sales approach, one book on sales leadership, and his latest book called The Negativity Fast releases on 10.31.23. Anthony posts daily content here at TheSalesBlog.com.
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