Overcoming my fear of rejection

“To funnel your expression of life through the narrowness of another’s anticipated response is the beginning of death. There is another way.” —Ken Carey, The Third Millenium

by Scott Grace — 

I  have lived a good deal of my life shining at half-wattage, allowing my light to dim and flicker for fear of criticism and rejection. Gradually, I have baby-stepped my way toward diminishing the power that this fear has had over me, and would like to share with you a great adventure I had in learning to let my full incandescent light shine — no matter what the neighbors might think.

I was presenting at a weekend personal growth seminar, and  my assignment was to offer born-in-the-moment songs to the passersby during breaks. As they strolled past, I found myself asking a select few if they wanted to hear a song. I noticed that I only asked those who gave me a welcoming smile and acknowledged my existence. The ones who did not, did not receive a song offer.

I told myself that I was just respecting their boundaries, but after a while it dawned on me that gently inquiring if a person wanted to hear a song was not exactly invading his or her space. Could it be that what was really holding me back was fear of rejection, cleverly masquerading as courtesy? It seemed so.

What was I so afraid of? The worst they could say was “no.” Perhaps when I shied away from reaching out to others, it was my own inner critic I was protecting myself from — the shadowy pain of self-rejection. Perhaps it was not their responses I was scared of, but my own scary shame stories — stories about there being something wrong with me when someone does not respond the way I want them to.

I went home from that weekend entertaining a penetrating inquiry: How much have I missed while hiding my love and my gifts behind the fear of rejection? It was a powerful question, and with the answer came waves of grief. The truth was that I had missed out on countless moments of connection with others. I had missed a tremendous amount of joy, fun and miraculous experiences while hiding my light under a bushel for fear of rejection. I had missed out on living my mission.

My grief brought me to an inner resolve to not let the fear of rejection put a dam between myself and my heart’s expression ever again.

Three days later, I was doing mundane tasks on my computer, feeling lonely and disconnected, with emotions brought on by a conversation the likes of which can be heard at private pity parties worldwide: “I hate this mundane day! Why can’t my entire life be like the conferences and seminars I go to on the weekends where I get to sing and connect with people? These weekdays of doing the business side of my work behind a computer are so boring. Where is the fun? Where’s the magic? I hate this!”

A question from my higher self crashed the pity party: “What can you do to get yourself out of this space and into the sweet flow of love’s expression?”

Sometimes answers to these kinds of questions come in abstract subtleties. This time was different. Before fear and logic had a chance to talk me out of the outrageous instructions I was getting, I grabbed my guitar and headed to the beach to create my own middle-of-the-week personal growth seminar on how to let go of the fear of rejection and bring magic to any moment.

My game plan was to reach out to strangers and ask if they would like to hear a song. But before I could jump in, I needed some supportive healing energy, a little self-serenade pep-talk. I walked out onto the sand, strumming and singing soothing words to the part of me that was afraid.

The first people I reached out to were a couple who looked very much in love. Nervous but willing, I asked if they wanted to be serenaded. They said “yes.” Asking them only for their names, I made up a song about what I saw in their eyes and their countenances. They were deeply touched, and I felt energized by their appreciation.

Gaining momentum and courage, I approached others less and less cautiously. Almost everyone was accepting of my offer, and musical moments of connection were opening hearts and spreading smiles all along the beach. Eventually I came across two friends of mine who also loved to sing. When I told them what I was up to, we joined forces for a while, singing to strangers in three-part harmony. What an amazing afternoon I was having at the beach, right in the middle of a “mundane” week — with no conference or workshop in sight.

I approached a collection of beer-drinking teenagers hanging out after an afternoon of surfing. I asked them for a topic and made sure that the song I created was funny and used language they could relate to. It was quite a hit, and they invited me to sit and have a beer with them. We talked about everything from their perceptions about what was happening in Iraq, to how they were feeling about growing up in this culture. I was thrilled to have secured their trust and gained entry into their world.

One person I reached out to on my walk did decline my offer. Checking in with my body to see if any feelings were hurt, I found her response stimulated nothing within me — just a gentle acceptance. I took a deep breath and wished her a marvelous day, feeling quite free. What a celebration that was.

What I am discovering is that, without the fear of rejection, every moment is miraculous and every encounter holy. I may not always have a guitar in hand, but I do always have the ability to connect. I have found no joy as deep and fulfilling as when sticking my neck out to my fellow human beings and lifting the mundane to the miraculous.


Scott Grace is a coach, speaker, modern-day transformational troubadour and a miracle mischief maker. He travels the United States, Canada and Europe speaking and singing at conferences, Unity and Religious Science Churches, and wherever people are open to humor and playfulness merging with truth and wisdom.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 6, Dec 2010/Jan 2011.

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