Why Fear of Rejection Makes Authenticity so Elusive

Fear of Rejection

As Halloween approaches, thoughts turn to the frightening things in life (and death). So this month we’ll be taking a look at one of the scariest things for many new (and some seasoned) writers: Authenticity. One of the reasons it can be difficult to be authentic in your writing is fear of rejection.

Fear of Rejection and Judgement

The fear of rejection in person, on social media, and in writing, is something nearly everyone has experienced (to some extent). Cyberbullying is on the rise. “In fact, according to the anti-bullying website NoBullying.com, 52 percent of young people report being cyberbullied and over half of them don’t report it to their parents.” [1] If you want to learn more, check out my friend, Jacqui Murray’s recent post.

Fear of Rejection and the Family Portrait

Because of this fear of rejection, we show the world only what we want them to see. We have become so adept at this that often we don’t even realize what we’re doing.

Recently we had some family pictures taken and I posted one of them (my very favorite) on Facebook.

Dan and the Girls 2018

Beautiful, isn’t it? But I wasn’t in it. I was uncomfortable with the world seeing how much weight I have gained in the past year. It sounds so vain. I’m not only embarrassed for me, but for my family. I think, “Will Dan’s friends and family feel sorry for him for having a wife who has let herself go like this?” I even wonder, “Will my daughter’s boyfriends wonder if this is what they have in store for them in the future?” Silly, isn’t it?

It’s not so silly when you consider that rejection is actually painful—really.

Researchers using fMRI scans have found that the areas in our brain that are activated when we are rejected are the same areas that are activated when we feel physical pain. There is even evidence to suggest that acetaminophen can reduce the pain caused by rejection.[2]

At its worst, fear of rejection can cripple people into inaction. Afraid to risk public humiliation or make decisions that may be wrong. This can be debilitating for writers and artists who put a piece of their soul into everything they create. Rejection of your work is deeply personal. When someone rejects your work, it feels as though they are rejecting you. Because of this, you may put up your guard, avoiding authenticity in your writing, the parts that aren’t covered in a glossy veneer, made to look pretty for the public.

When I wrote my first book, I was petrified of what the response would be. It didn’t get any better with the 2nd book.

Here is a TED Talk by Whitney Thore about Living without shame: How we can empower ourselves

Authenticity is Essential. Fear of Rejection is its Enemy.

We are desperate for it. We admire people who can really put themselves out there (seemingly without fear). Yet we are afraid to be those authentic people. What if we tell the truth about ourselves and we are rejected? What if people don’t like the real you? But we need authenticity.

Married to a Porn Addict

One day a woman from church (whom I didn’t know really well) told me that she had just found out her husband was addicted to pornography. She shared the rawest parts of her heart. She said, “I don’t even know why I’m telling you this.” As the tears fell from her eyes she shared the fact that she wondered what was lacking in her that her husband would turn to these pixilated imaged of strangers on the computer.

Two years later, I went out to the garage to find an extension cord. I found my (now ex) husband’s pornography collection. I was shocked. Then, I checked the history on our computers. He spent hours, whenever I left the house, looking at pornography. My first reaction was to feel shame. What was wrong with me? This is an all too common question when you experience rejection. It’s almost always something wrong with the rejecter.

For 3 days I wondered who I could talk to.

I couldn’t talk to my mother. She would say, “I told you he was a loser.” I couldn’t share with anyone who knew him. They would never forgive him and they would wonder why I would stay with him. They would look at me as a pathetic person. Was I a pathetic person? Then, in a moment of great desperation, I remembered the woman from church who had confided in me. I called her. She assured me that it wasn’t about me. She was a listening ear who cared. Best of all, she was someone I respected, who had walked this path before I did. That’s the gift of authenticity. Shove feelings of rejection aside. I swear those fears are lies of the devil.

That marriage didn’t survive. Along with pornography, he was having multiple affairs and was also abusive. He chose to leave me and our 3 children for someone else. It was a gift, really. Even though it was tough for a while, I became a stronger person and married my amazing husband, Dan, who treats me and our girls with honor and love.

What are you afraid of?

What are the things you cover up out of fear of rejection? They might be a physical weakness, something that happened or something you’ve done that you feel ashamed of. Whatever these things are that we cover over with a glossy veneer are bricks in the walls we build between us and those who we could have authentic relationships with. I fear rejection as much as anyone.

Your assignment this week:

This week, consider what you cover up out of fear of rejection. Is there one thing that you could be more open about? What do you fear most about authenticity? We will continue this topic next week. For now, I am going to share the family picture with me in it.

The Erickson Family 2018

What Are YOUR Thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

About Heather Erickson

My Family
The Erickson Family, Photo by Everbranch Photography

I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace. My books are available at Amazon.com:

The Memory Maker’s Journal 

Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer

Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer

I also blog about living with cancer at Facing Cancer with Grace.


Featured Image By Alvesgaspar – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43509294

[1] Murray, Jacqui. “The Insidiousness of Online Bullying.” WordDreams…, Jacqui Murray, 29 Sept. 2018, worddreams.wordpress.com/2018/10/01/national-bullying-prevention-awareness-month/.

[2] Oaklander, Mandy. “Tylenol and Acetaminophen: Can Painkillers Ease Emotional Pain?” Time, Time, 17 Apr. 2015, time.com/3825042/tylenol-emotion-acetaminophen/.

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6 comments on “Why Fear of Rejection Makes Authenticity so Elusive


Heather, you are so beautiful!! You have a wonderful gift of portraying the feelings of so many of us. I look at you and see beauty, not just physical but God’s love and caring. Never fear showing yourself.

Thank you, Kathleen. Sometimes I think that we will be surprised by the freedom we experience in heaven when we can be ourselves without fear. We will no longer the lies of Satan whispering in our ears telling us that we aren’t good enough. We can have that here on earth, though the freedom Christ gives us. It’s just hard to accept sometimes. Have a great week!

I don’t know what I’d do if I found out my husband had that sort of guilty pleasure. No surprise it came with more problems.

Heather, I think lots of us women are so beyond fat shaming that we barely notice who’s fat or not (unless it’s a movie star trading on her slender looks). If you took a poll, I would tell you you are beautiful.

You are very kind, Jacqui. The wonderful thing is that my husband, Dan, truly loves me and lets me know all the time how beautiful I am in his eyes. So, I hold onto that. I think this is a struggle with so many women. Even iconic movie stars have experienced these feelings of inadequacy. Maybe we need to change the standard of beauty. It doesn’t have to be size 2 with flawless skin. It would be wonderful if the standard would be our compassion and love. Have a wonderful week!

Most of the time, those who are judging you are actually coming from a place where they’re looking at you through their own perception field. They’re not judging you. They’re judging themselves. Once you realize that, what others think matters less. (And if I ever get there myself, I’ll let you know.)

Hi Liz. I really go into the concept of judgments in next weeks post. It’s so true. Growing up, I was really afraid of becoming heavy like my mother. I loved my mom and to me she was beautiful, but she was always dieting and the scale went up and down to extreme levels. It demonstrated a level of importance that she placed on that number on the scale. So now, I see her in the mirror. We let our own thoughts come back to haunt us. Have a wonderful week!

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