FIFTH IN MY CHAPTER-BY-CHAPTER JOURNEY THROUGH ROBERT MCGEE’S BEST-SELLING BOOK, THE SEARCH FOR SIGNIFICANCE.
How much of your life have you wasted trying to gain the approval of others?
My Performance + Your Approval = My Self-Worth
Our self-concept is determined not only by how we view ourselves, but by how we think others perceive us. Basing our self-worth on what we believe others think of us causes us to become addicted to their approval.
We spend much of our time building relationships, striving to please people and win their respect. And yet, after all of our sincere, conscientious effort, it takes only one unappreciative word from someone to ruin our sense of self-worth. How quickly an insensitive word can destroy the self-assurance we’ve worked so hard to achieve.
The world we live in is filled with people who demand that we please them in exchange for their approval and acceptance. Such demands often lead us directly to a second false belief: I must be approved of by certain people for me to feel good about myself.
Another symptom of our fear of rejection is our inability to give and receive love. We find it difficult to open up and reveal our inner thoughts and motives because we believe that others will reject us if they know what we are really like. Therefore, our fear of rejection leads us to superficial relationships and isolation. The more we experience isolation, the more we need acceptance.
No Longer Conform To…
For the most part, our modern society has responded inadequately to rejection and loneliness. Our response has been outer-directed, meaning that we try to copy the customs, ideas, dress, and behavioral patterns of a particular person or group, allowing their their opinions to determine what is correct for us.
Conforming to others will not fully provide the security we are so desperately seeking. Only God can provide that through His people, His word, His spirit, and His timing. Turning to others for what only God can provide is a direct result o four acceptance of Satan=’s lie: My Self-Worth = My Performance + Others’ Opinions. This only leads us to fear rejection, conforming virtually all of our attitudes an actions to the expectations of others.
Effects Of The Fear Of Rejection
Virtually all of us fear rejection. Neither being defensive nor trying to please another person’s every whim is the answer to this problem. These are only coping mechanisms that prevent us from dealing with the root of our fear. Rejection is a type of communication. It convys a message that someone else is unsatisfactory to us, that he or she doesn’t measure up to a standard we created or adopted. Rejection communicates disrespect, low value, and lack of appreciation. Nothing hurts quite like the message of rejection.
Without lifting a finger, we can send the message that our targeted individual doesn’t meet our standards. We can harness the person’s instinctive desire for acceptance and approval until we have changed and adapted their behavior to suit our tastes and purposes. This is how rejection enables us to control the actions of another human being.
We All React Differently
How do you react to the fear of rejection?
- Some of us project a cool, impervious exterior and consequently never develop deep, satisfying relstionships.
- Some of us are so fearful of rejection that we withdraw and decline almost everything.
- Some of us continually say ‘yes’ to everyone, hoping to gain their approval.
- Some of us are shy and easily manipulated.
- Some of us are sensitive to criticism and react defensively.
Our fear of rejection will control us to the degree by which we base our self-worth on the opinions of others rather than on our relationship with God. Our dependence on others for value brings bondage, while abiding in the truths of Christ’s love and acceptance brings freedom and joy. In Galatians 1:10, Paul clearly drew the line concerning our search for approval.
“For am I now seeking the favor or man, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”Galatians 1:10
In my next posting, I’ll discuss some of the problems in our lives that can be created, or even triggered by rejection.
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