In my last post, I discussed fear and suggested that fears broadly fall into two categories, the fear of rejection and the fear of failure.

I received a lot of questions on rejection & failure and thought I’d answer two that came up several times.  

JY asks:

“Is everyone in either one camp or the other?”

JY thank you for your question, I think you’re asking if someone experiences either rejection or failure rather than both?

The answer is that we all can experience a whole variety of fears. For example, a lot of psychologists will tell you a primal fear is of loud noises. As I mentioned in the article, Existentialists might claim everyone is ultimately fearful of death. Others who claim spiritual enlightenment might say death holds no fear. Your beliefs will influence your judgement.

My observation, JY, was that people tend to experience a primary fear of either rejection or failure. It doesn’t me we can’t all experience both. Our early life experiences will influence our thinking and how we respond to life’s challenges. 

PB asks:

“I fear rejection a lot, but don’t think anyone abandoned me or told me I wasn’t wanted”

Thank you PB. Without knowing your personal circumstances, it’s difficult to make an informed judgement. What I can say is that feeling rejected or abandoned can be subtle, and require a bit of detective work. I worked with someone who always feared being left or rejected by their partners. She discovered it was because of a single experience when her father appeared to favour a sibling by buying her what she considered to be, a superior gift at Christmas. She felt loved, but her belief was that he loved her sister more. As a result, she subconsciously expected the men in her life to be on the lookout for someone better. Irrational at one level and logical at another. 

TZ observed:

“I had an idyllic childhood and my parents did everything for me when I was growing up. I always felt loved. My father owned a successful business and my mother was a published author, but I always worry that I may not be good enough. Am I comparing myself to them?”

Thank you TZ

I don’t know whether you’re comparing yourself to them, and worry that you can’t match their high standards. As you’ve asked, you may be. The question you may want to ask is, “Did they help me believe in myself enough, or did they do too much for me without instilling belief in me?” 

I wonder if you felt empowered, and whether you grew up trusting in your own ability to learn and grow. Challenge yourself to make some decisions, minor ones at first, and act on them. Your self-belief will grow as you overcome setbacks and learn you have the ability 

If either of you feel stuck, a good coach or therapist can help you understand it and to grow.