Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fear Of Rejection Makes You Afraid To Ask For Help

Why after all these years does fear of rejection still have such a strong hold on me? Why do I still expect you to hurt me by either saying no or by ignoring me if I ask you for help? Why is this so common a fear in our society?

I realized that my lesson last week was to show me that I still have trouble asking for help. I went to an Al-Anon meeting this week and the topic of discussion was grieving, taking care of ourselves and asking for help. I wasn't surprised to see that almost everyone in the room said they had trouble asking for help.

The book that the discussion came from is one of Al-Anon's newest additions: Opening our Hearts, Transforming our Losses, Al-Anon Family Groups Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, Virginia, 2007. This book was written by Al-Anon members about the grieving process and the losses that happen from living with the family disease of alcoholism.

In my head, I know that I am worthy of asking for help. Someone said this in the Al-Anon group and I have also heard it in my grieving class. When you don't ask someone for help, you are robbing them of the experience of feeling good about themselves by reaching out to help you. It makes sense. I know that it is how I feel when I help others. Still it is difficult for me to say that I need help. It is hard to allow you to see my vulnerabilities. When I am vulnerable, I am wide open to being hurt by you. That fear is so difficult to get past.

Someone recently was talking about his own ability to grieve and said that he couldn't grieve, that he didn't know how. I have heard many old-timers in 12-Step groups talk about being on the "pity-pot". That makes me angry when I hear someone say, "Get off your pity-pot." To me, legitimate grieving is not being on a "pity-pot." Being on a "pity-pot" isn't going through the grieving process. It is using feelings and tears to attract attention to yourself because you don't know any other way to get attention. Most of us probably know a drama queen or two. For them, you never see an end to their grief. It never goes away and they never take any steps toward healing. With their tears and drama, they demand your attention. Their grief never gets resolved. It just goes on and on ruling their lives and the lives of anyone who will listen.

I have never read anything on the topic of "pity-pots." This is just my observations about it. I could even be wrong. This is just what I have observed. Some people may see me as a drama queen who can't seem to let go of my grief. I am often surprised at how other people see me. Hopefully, I am not staying struck in the grief. I do know that you have to move through grief for it to finally go away. Ignoring grief doesn't make it disappear. I know because that was what I did for many years.

Craig Harper wrote an article this week called "Unlearning" that talks about the beliefs that we have learned and how we need to unlearn some of them. You can find this article at the following link:

Craig leaves you with a list of questions to ask yourself about the beliefs you have about yourself and your life.


Colleen said...

Excellent post. You are so right - ignoring grief does not make it disappear. We have to allow ourselves to grieve. For some of us, that takes a lifetime.
I still fear rejection. A lot. I try to reach out more than I used to though.

Patricia Singleton said...

Colleen, thank you. Some days I have a better grip on my fears than others. Fear of rejection is close to the top of my list of fears.

sarah said...

I think people heal and let go of things as they're able. Be gentle with you ok. Sarah

Patricia Singleton said...

Sarah, thank you. I do need to remember to be gentle with myself.

katie said...

thank you so much patricia, for another thought-provoking, valuable post.

i'm also angered by the notion of people shaming people for engaging in self-pity when expressing emotion. i do think that some amount of self-pity is ok. and that some people label others as pity-pots or that they "want" to be unhappy and don't know how to be otherwise just to get attention and that sort of thing.

i think sometimes what's happening is that some people aren't able to let themselves feel negative feelings or especially express those feelings in a healthy manner, so they shame other people when they do it.

i do think there is something to be careful about when we are dealing with our grief or negative emotions, as you point out, when we can get stuck in those feelings. or if we make no efforts to feel better but just recycle the same things over and over.

these are things i've been thinking about lately.

thank you again for talking about these things, and for the link about beliefs. i'm excited to read it.

wishing you well today and always~

katie said...

oh and your main point, fear of rejection, me too. it's so powerful. i'm so sorry you feel this way. in my case, it interferes with my expressing negative feelings. i'm just sure it will be unacceptable and will result in the other person getting angry with me. and so often that has been the case. it continues to be a big problem for me. i continue to stifle myself to an unhealthy extent. it's such a hard lesson to unlearn. but i'm working on it.

one thing i think that might help me that i've been trying lately to think about, is to think about what i can endure. times my fears came true and yet the world didn't fallen apart. so now i tell myself, yes, the rejection and anger might happen, but that is ok, people are entitled to their reactions. and even if people don't react ideally, in a supportive way, that doesn't mean that MY feelings and needs are wrong. this has helped me start feeling better. i still can't speak up much, but i hope in time i can do what i need to do, say what i need to say, and not let the fear stop me from living my life.

thank you again patricia~

Patricia Singleton said...

Katie, you are welcome. Grieving can take a long time for major issues and it can take just minutes for minor issues. Any time that you have change, there is something to grieve. Even good changes bring about grieving because there is a loss of some kind every time that something changes.

Patricia Singleton said...

Katie, fear of rejection, fear of abandonment and loss of control have been my 3 main issues in dealing with incest. Each one is better than they used to be so that is growth. I am not doing any of it perfectly and that is ok. As they say in Al-Anon, I can strive for progress rather than perfection. Thanks for your comments, Katie.

Shen said...

I dislike the phrase "pity pot" intensely, as well. There is definitely a difference between grief and groveling for attention. As someone who has struggled to feel anything, and who is still struggling to find tears at all, I can tell you that this kind of talk is extremely harmful to people who have legitimate feelings. It is the kind of invalidating talk I heard, growing up.

Lovely post.

Patricia Singleton said...

Shen, I feel the same way. Thanks for stopping by.

IK said...

It's funny how fear of rejection, fear of abandonment, and loss of control are all common threads through people who have been abused, no matter what kind.

I have heard the term 'pity party' more than I have 'pity pot'. There are times when I get down on myself too much and start a pity party for myself. However, that is not the same thing as releasing pain and anguish. I find as I do that, I feel better and better.

Thanks for sharing your insight!

katie said...

thanks patricia, i wanted to let you know that i went on and wrote a post about this issue after being inspired by yours and another's blog post also talking about unlearning. so i put a link back to your post and hers. wanted to let you know i did that.

if for any reason you don't want me linking to your blog, please let me know and i won't hesitate to remove the link.

:) katie

Patricia Singleton said...

IK, thanks for your input. I think most of us at one time or another has thrown a pity party for ourselves. The problems start when we allow ourselves to get stuck there instead of working through our grief which is healthier.

Patricia Singleton said...

Katie, I appreciate the link back. I have only ever removed one link back from my blog and that was a German company that was a travel agent and the article had nothing to do with the topic or my blog. Feel free to do link backs anytime that your topic is similar to mine. That sends reader traffic to both our blogs. Thanks. Now I am off to read your article.

Just Be Real said...

Pat, thank you for your recent comment on my blog. No, you are not stepping on my toes, and I will not tell you to 'shut-up.' I respect your opinion and everyone eles. I appreciate you sharing what is on your heart. A lot of the time, as you know, the comments we receive we ourselves do not see a lot of things, and others see things from a different perspective. So, I take everything in and weigh it. Blessings to you dear one.

Patricia Singleton said...

JBR, you are a dear one also and yes, my comment did come from my heart rather than my head. (((HUGS)))