There are many shared feelings and perspectives to be found between most young Millennial and Gen Z women. I’m pretty sure we’ve all stopped and thought, “I’m just not good enough,” at least once or twice. Whether it applies to your academic work, your personal life, or your career, thoughts of self-rejection tend to creep up every now and then. Let’s talk about what self-rejection really means, how we can identify it, and how we can reframe our thoughts to honor our worth.
What Is Self-Rejection?
Self-rejection is a form of self-sabotage. It typically occurs after we convince ourselves we aren’t “good enough.”
You might start out dwelling a little more than usual on your failures or flaws, whether they’re big or small. Then, you might progress to thinking your downfalls mean you aren’t cut out for success. Once you’ve convinced yourself you aren’t worthy of pursuing certain opportunities or achieving specific goals, you may decide to quit while you’re ahead and avoid trying at all. This thought process begins a vicious cycle of self-rejection.
When you’re stuck in the ugly cycle of self-rejection, you might turn down interviews for great job opportunities because you feel like you’ll fail anyway, so there’s no point in trying. You might avoid putting yourself out there and meeting new friends because you’re convinced you won’t be accepted. You might start putting less effort into your work because you’re sure it won’t turn out right in the end, no matter how hard you try.
It’s a really toxic mindset to be in, but it’s surprisingly common.
Common Signs Of Self-Rejection
It can be difficult to realize when self-rejection is taking place. Here are a few of the most common signs that you're sabotaging your own success and happiness.
1. Always Comparing Yourself To Others
It’s completely normal to compare yourself to others. However, those comparisons can cross the line and turn into obsessions very quickly. Simple thoughts about how your work measures up compared to your peers' work can spiral into worries about never being able to succeed in your career.
If you’re constantly comparing yourself to others and focusing on where you think you’re coming up short, you might be in the beginning stages of self-rejection.
2. Isolating Yourself
This sign typically applies more to your personal life than any other area. You might find yourself choosing to keep to yourself rather than interacting with others because you’re scared they won’t accept you. Instead of facing the possibility of being rejected by others, you’re rejecting yourself and avoiding the situation altogether.
3. Adjusting Your Goals Because Of Fear That You Won’t Reach Them
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with modifying and adjusting your goals to fit with your life and aspirations. However, if you’ve started lowering the bar for yourself just because you don’t think you’ll be able to achieve your most ambitious goals, you might be engaging in self-rejection.
This tends to happen a lot in college and the workplace. Many women see their male peers and superiors conquering their goals and moving up in the world, and they start feeling like they’ll never be able to do the same.
4. Letting Others Choose Your Path In Life
Picture this: You’ve always dreamed of being a creative writer. It’s what you love to do. After years of honing your craft and exploring your creativity, your professor or your boss reads your writing and tells you that they think you’d be better suited for technical writing.
Sure, there’s nothing wrong with exploring other options and trying out new things. Once you start giving up on your dreams and settling into the path others prescribe for you, though, you’re allowing self-rejection to creep in. You’re scared to go against the grain and fight for what you want, so you stick with what feels safe.
5. Ignoring Your True Feelings And Instincts
When we start engaging in a self-rejection cycle, we tend to put our true feelings and emotions on the backburner. You might start feeling like your own thoughts and beliefs aren’t worth much in the grand scheme of things.
This one applies to women in particular. We often feel that if we express our feelings or follow our hearts, our male superiors might view us as immature or overly emotional.
It all ties back into the fear of rejection or failing. When you’re experiencing self-rejection, you might be scared that your feelings are wrong or that your instincts will lead you to failure. Instead of listening to yourself, you turn off your inner voice and do what you think you’re expected to do.
How Can You Stop Self-Rejecting?
The most important step to ending self-rejection is recognizing that you’re doing it. Once you’ve identified the signs and realized that you’re sabotaging yourself, there are a few things you can do to break the cycle.
1. Acknowledge That You Are Your Own Worst Critic
This can be hard to come to terms with, but usually, nobody judges your work or your actions as harshly as you do. What you view as your most embarrassing failure probably doesn’t even cross the minds of the important people in your life. If it does, they likely aren’t silently judging you or criticizing you as brutally as you think they are.
2. Embrace Your Feelings And Intuitions
Your thoughts and emotions are important and powerful. You deserve to have your voice heard just as much as everyone else on this planet. Try to avoid pushing your feelings down and opting to go with the flow rather than speaking your mind.
Even if your peers or superiors don’t agree with you or understand what you’re feeling, they’ll likely respect you for asserting yourself. Plus, you’ll feel great knowing you’re staying true to yourself.
3. Remind Yourself How Amazing You Are
This sounds super cheesy, but it’s so important. If you’re a list-maker like I am, sit down and make a list of the things you love about yourself. Write it all down— your strengths, your best qualities, and your greatest accomplishments.
When you start to feel self-rejection creeping in, pull out your list, and remind yourself that you are worthy and capable of achieving great things.
Conclusion: You Don't Have To Deal With Self-Rejection
Self-rejection is sneaky, and it’s toxic. We all deal with it, but I know we’re all capable of overcoming those limiting thoughts, reaching our goals, and creating happiness in our lives.
Have you ever struggled with self-rejection? What are your tips for embracing your worth rather than giving in to self-sabotage?
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