Attachment Theory suggests that we’re wired to seek love and acceptance. So the fear of rejection is understandable. But might there be a corresponding fear that is less visible — a fear of being accepted?
“I have such a fear of finding another like myself, and such a desire to find one! I am so utterly lonely, but I also have such a fear that my isolation be broken through, and I no longer be the head and ruler of my universe.”
― Anaïs Nin, House of Incest
So much has been written about the fear of rejection, but we don't often hear about the fear of acceptance.
The fear of rejection makes obvious sense: If we’ve had a steady diet of being shamed, blamed, and criticized in our early years, we learn that the world is not a safe place. We learn to protect our tender heart from further stings and insults by isolating ourselves.
This protective mechanism doesn’t make discriminations though. Our defensive structure not only safeguards us from possible rejection, but also from the prospect of being accepted and welcomed.
Strangely, I have found myself feeling anxious that people will actually LIKE me. I remember being in college and going to a party feeling worried (father than hopeful) that I would get hit on. A guy might ask for my phone number. Then what? I'd be flooded by fear. What if he begins to see who I really am? What might he see? What if he doesn't like me after he gets to know me? And what if actually DOES like me?
Being accepted and liked might be scary for you if:
- You struggle with receiving.
You may not know what to do with compliments or positive attention. You might shut down so that you don’t have to let down your defenses and allow yourself to be seen. And what if they no longer accept you at some point? That might really hurt! So you play it safe by distancing as a preemptive defense against possible future pain.
- You cling to limiting beliefs about yourself.
When someone does like or accept you, then negative/limiting beliefs might come up. If you believe that you are unlovable or that relationships always fail, you may not know how to respond when evidence contradicts your limiting belief.
To overcome my fear of acceptance I had to explore my blocks to receiving and examine my limiting beliefs about myself. This involved a radical change in my self-image. When I began viewing myself more positively my life began to totally change.
In Mom-MECircle we explore how scary in can be to accept ourselves.
We talk about how practicing radical acceptance — embracing ourselves just as we are –means not judging ourselves but rather honoring the full range of our feelings and desires. It can be scary to open to our human hurts and sorrows and accept that this is simply a part of who we are.
When we come together in sisterhood though, we realize that we aren't the only ones who feel this way.
Together, we move toward a courageous self-acceptance as we realize that we are a vulnerable human being — just like everyone else.