I want to talk about the fear of rejection

by | Aug 11, 2023 | Business Lessons, Client Attraction, Inspiration | 0 comments

I want to talk about the fear of rejection, and why people don’t all get the same results inside the same group programme.

Really talk about it, not just gloss over it.

Because it’s so much more complex, intersectional and messy than people think it is. 

Which is why for so many people, including myself, it is a very hard thing to “just get over it”.

First, foremost and without equivocation, the world does not accept us all equally. 

As a witchy woman, with neurodiverse traits, a complex trauma history, who came out as bisexual over 20 years ago and has lived an openly bisexual life, with a complicated BIPOC history, who was born into poverty and who lives with an invisible disability, the world didn’t even start to consider REAL until I was well into my teens. I know a little about not being fully accepted.

Privilege also plays in.

I also want to state fully, that I am also incredibly privileged. Everything people reject me for can be made invisible. In fact, most people make it invisible for me, just by making ASSUMPTIONS. It is easily assumed I’m a healthy, affluent, straight, white woman. For people in the BIPOC community (generations of my family included), rejection is so often instantaneous. Rejection happens on skin colour alone, loaded into the first look someone gives you. The first words they speak to you. Into the words you’re taught to say to yourself and into the very system that teaches us all how to relate to one another. I want to acknowledge that from the outset. It’s touched my life in intimate ways too and at the same time, I can never understand or even imagine what it is to live in a dark-skinned body, of which there are so many variations no one person could ever experience all of it. 

Rejection is different for white men and so very, very different again for BIPOC men. It’s also different for people based on their family construct: birth order, whether or not they are twins, how many ACES (adverse childhood experiences) you’ve had and on and on the list goes… 

So when we talk about the fear of rejection, let’s just be completely, totally clear: we are really not talking about one thing at all. Which means there is not a one-size-fits all solution.  

When we talk about the way that this fear manifests, like perfectionism, procrastination, people pleasing and self-sabotage, we are not talking about one thing either. We are talking about many related, cross-cutting vectors of varying magnitude and intensity.

There’s only one approach that I know of that “fits everybody” and that’s radically deconstructing the paradigm.

Questioning not only your own limiting beliefs one at a time, as so many modalities want to encourage you (and you could have those sessions for the rest of your life and never get there!), but questioning ALL BELIEFS at all levels and the very construct of what belief and knowledge even are. In doing so, to gradually allow yourself to first, become willing to receive a new way of being and then to fully immerse yourself in it. 

Without exception, what I’ve seen in my many years flying into the face of rejection as a transgressive academic specialising in this kind of conversation and an entrepreneur seeking to contribute to change, is that the fear of rejection is really the internalisation of a belief system which forces us to reject ourselves in the belief that it is the better choice than being rejected by others. It literally teaches ourselves that we are not trustworthy, on multiple levels:

  1. Because those who consider themselves the “norm” don’t trust otherness; and
  2. Because in disowning our truest selves, we ourselves abandon, shame and betray ourselves, reinforcing to ourselves the idea that we can’t trust ourselves  

This message is upheld by the evidence which life continually presents us, showing us over and over again what kind of faces, voices, values and perspective are valid, and which are not. In fact, it doesn’t take many “subaltern” (or lower status) labels in your life for your inner voice to conclude “this isn’t meant for you, this isn’t made for you, this isn’t within your reach, this isn’t safe for you, this won’t work for you, you can’t be trusted to do this…” Arising from the conflicted awareness that doing so will only create even more distance between you and the acceptable norm, resulting in rejection by others, you’re forced to choose. From childhood we’re conditioned to rejecting the self is the “right choice.” Even if we don’t hear that as words, it comes to us a thousand different ways. 

close-up of female doll wearing pink and white dress

The Doll Experiment

One of the most profound and heartbreaking examples comes through the doll experiment. In this widely conducted experiment, children around age 4 from across the white and BIPOC community are shown both black and white dolls. They’re asked to identify which is the pretty doll? Which one is ugly? Which is good/bad? Which is kind/mean etc. Even at 4 years old, they’ve already internalised that white = beautiful, kind, good, and black  = ugly, mean, bad. Even if the black doll looks like them. That experiment measures one incredibly important way that all children are conditioned and how privilege and disadvantage are internalised, even when it’s not actively “being taught.” Children learn by being present in the world and, they see truths even when they’re very uncomfortable. The doll experiment reveals one way, but there are many, many more. 

I was conditioned to hide multiple abusers for years, not because anyone told me the words “don’t tell me about that” (at least not until much later), but because I was a tiny tot who could barely stand or talk, that I was not to cry in my parents’ presence. Tears were a weakness, a distraction, a power they would not give me over them. Tears weren’t wanted, nor the emotions that came with them. When I was sad, angry or disappointed I was sent to my room until I could come out with a happy smiling face on. As that practice became my embodied experience – my emotions are not valid, they must not be seen by others. Soon I found I had no choice but to keep my mouth shut. Words that I felt all the way to my soul I’d be rejected for just would not come out. Anger… Anger on the other hand was easy. There was plenty of anger in our house and my parents seemed to have the capacity to to throw it around without having to put themselves in time outs. When something had to come out, that’s what it became – something not-self that fitted better with them.

Now reflect on somewhere you’re not taking action,  and suddenly it’s not so surprising…right?

The Insta-worthy inspirational quotes from people trying to inspire you seem a bit more vacuous, right? Because it’s all actually part of fitting in and, fitting in can’t ever work. 

The more we unlearn the constructs that support this collaborative reality we’ve come to take for granted and to unlearn judging others in the process, the more liberated we become from the fear of rejection. 

So, let’s look again at those results that somehow rarely come to actually pass in the industry’s big coaching programmes. They’re selling to everyone, right? But they aren’t operating from a deeply informed approach that understands individuals as co-creating with and co-created by culture and located within it and simultaneously being it, whilst being unique, embodied individuals. Let’s just look at what happens here. 

  1. Total rags to riches stories, where people who have nothing left in the world create great success. Market to everyone as “if they can do it, you can do it.” What worked for them, because they were already beyond the fear of rejection, with nothing to lose, is turned into a universal system for all; and
  2. Sea of invisible, generally high performing people who have created amazing success in the past, but consistently don’t get the results they desire in online coaching. 

Why? Doesn’t the same system work for the rags-to-riches candidate and the generally high performer? 

Person no.1 has nothing to lose. They’ve got to the point where there are so many factors working against them at the personal identity level, there’s no meaning to being “too far away” from the acceptable norm any more. The fear of rejection is therefore, significantly weakened or irrelevant as rejection has already happened, or it’s outweighed by survival fears. 

Person no.2 has fought so hard for their acceptance. They’ve been everybody’s good girl (or good boy) and performed perfectly to get the straight A+s and get as close to the societal ideal as they can. Even though it doesn’t fit… Even though it’s sometimes agony… it is really hard to walk back into the not-belonging – even if it’s to find a better version of yourself and the people who really belong with. The fear of rejection is high for this person and they’re much more likely to experience significant resistance to any system which engagers their current identity, even if they feel like it’s the path to everything they desire because, for most people, the fear of losing something you already have far outweighs the power of desire to maybe gain something. 

If you’d met me at 19, I was an unwell girl with an eating disorder who felt stuck in a terrible job where I was experiencing desperate sexual harassment and financial abuse. I was suicidal sometimes and definitely person no.1. Add to that an accident that left me in plaster for 16 weeks and with £1,000s of debt and that me had nothing to lose and everything to gain. That’s why becoming a stripper was an easy choice. 

Every version of me since has been a person no.2, who has used stripper me as a referent. A way of remembering that loss and gain are relational – relative to where my focus is directed. Every version of me since has been learning to direct my own focus, rather than allowing culture to direct it for me by sleight of hand. 

One of the things I do when I’m coaching you, is help you find or create a referent. Because I know you have great big, incredible things to do. I know it’s not laziness or “bad money mindset” that’s stopping you from doing them. It’s something that’s been grafted into you artificially, in relationship with all the people, places, things, embodied emotions, social constructs, ideas, beliefs and more, that you’ve engaged with. Something to challenge. Because the world isn’t here to reject you. The world needs you to become you <3 


Dr. Morgana

Dr. Morgana McCabe Allan


There’s always more to LEARN

And here’s just a few starting points…

“I’m sharing a win, I made more money this week in my business than on any other offer last year. And it was so easy. This money river is flowing today! I’m only $700 away from hitting my new monthly goal and it’s only the 2nd of the month!”

Elena Saxton

Coach for Artisans

Morgana McCabe Allan is incredibly wise yet personable, revolutionary yet relational, and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to be coached through mindset calls with her. I will be hearing her words in my head for years to come!

Danielle Bettmann

Host of Failing Motherhood Podcast

“I signed my first client!! {…} I showed up on the call fully present, gave her everything I could and I told her I want to offer her a 3 month package where I will honour the free sessions I had posted about within the price point. And she signed up! 🙂 “