Adam Willemse | Life Coach

Tag: being positive

The fear of rejection

Do not take anything personally.

The fear of rejection is one of man’s greatest fears. It stands alongside other big fears like the fear of embarrassment or the fear of failure. Some people even have a fear of achievement! But rejection, that one is way up at the top of the list.

Rejection is such a big thing because people have the need to belong somewhere, we like to be associated with a specific group of people. It forms part of our identity to belong. We want to be loved and liked by the people we meet.

But the matter of the fact is we cannot be liked and loved by everyone we meet. We can also not please everybody. It will become very tiring trying to be everything to everybody.

If one of your ideas are rejected, try to reframe it in a positive way. See it as an opportunity to improve on your idea. Do not take it personally. (Do you remember me talking about The Four Agreements a few posts ago? This is one of the four agreements: Do not take it personally!)

Nothing people do to you is personal. They might think you are the problem, and you might take it personally, but the bigger issue lies with the other person since he or she brought up the issue. The other person has his or her own issues and anxieties on which he or she reacts. You merely triggered the thought in their brain. It is the thought that makes them behave badly toward you. The action is all theirs. You cannot take it personally. It is not your stuff. Don Miguel Ruiz , the writer of The Four Agreements, writes: “Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally… Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.”

You can also not assume what is going on in the other person’s head. This is another of the four agreements: Do not make assumptions!

Does this make rejection any less painful? No, but maybe a bit more bearable. If you keep telling yourself these things, you might handle rejection a bit better in future.

So if someone rejects you on grounds of your sexuality or religion or whatever, just remember that it is their issue. You are not the problem. Try to be empathetic and see where they are coming from. This might help you accept the situation and move on. The world needs more compassion anyway. Do not take it personally.

If you have any questions or want to discuss this post with me, please leave a comment or contact me directly.

Become aware of your thoughts…


I would like to explain to you the impact your thoughts have on your life and your emotions. Maybe you already know this, so just bear with me if you do.

What many people out there do not know is how powerful your thoughts are. It comes down to this, every emotion you experience has an underlying thought that fuels it. If you can identify the underlying thought, you can control the emotion. Trust me on this.

What exactly is a thought? Technically? It is an electrical impulse in your brain cells, or nerves if you will, created by a chemical reaction. The chemicals that causes this impulse is called neurotransmitters. When this impulse occurs, it creates another chemical reaction – an emotion! We already know that emotions are chemical reactions in the brain. Now we know where this chemical reaction comes from – from the thought that happened.


The size of a brain cell varies from 0.004 mm to 0.1 mm in diameter. The nerve impulse or signal travels at about 320 km/h. There are roughly 100 billion cells or neurons in the brain. Each neuron is typically connected to 1000 other neurons. In other words, each cell has 1000 connections. Read more here and here.

When a new thought occurs, a new connection in your brain forms. This ability of forming new connections is referred to as brain plasticity. Now, how the connections in your brain work are as follows. Each time you have the same thought, the connection becomes stronger. And the stronger the connection becomes, the more neurotransmitters are involved in the thought. And the more neurotransmitters involved in the thought, the stronger the emotion associated with the thought. This, of course, is very simplistically explained.

Let me give you an analogy of how the new connection evolve. Imagine you walk through a field where no one ever comes. The first time you walk through the field you step on some twigs and grass etc. You leave some trace behind that you walked there. The next time you take the same route, you crunch some more grass and break some more twigs and plants. Now imagine how this route will look like if you walk the same way every day for a week. And for a month? Imagine you walk the same way for a year. How would the route look after a year? There would be a neat pathway, wouldn’t there? It works the same way in the brain, the more attention you give to something the stronger the connection in your brain gets. So much so that instead of one single minute connection there forms a nerve ‘highway’, if you will.

When we think the same thing over and over the emotions connected to it becomes stronger and stronger. This brings me to the point I’m trying to make. If you have the same negative thought over and over you will get stuck in a rut of negative emotions. You should therefore become very aware of what you are thinking. You must start to look at your thoughts in a critical way. By ‘critical’ I do not mean that you should criticize yourself every time you catch yourself having a negative thought. That will just contribute to the negative spiral. You should be critically aware of your thoughts.

What should you do if you have a negative thought? Be gentle with yourself and re-frame it in a positive way. I know, I make it sound so easy and effortless. Unfortunately it isn’t. It takes concentration and hard work.

How does re-framing work? Say you get the thought “I am stupid”. Where did that thought come from? What thoughts are underlying this thought? Is it even true? What sparked this thought? Really go in there and explore the thought. Is there any evidence of the contrary? Start focusing your attention on this evidence. And think the opposite thought deliberately. I like to say the phrase “Cancel that thought” in my head or out loud when I encounter one of these unfounded negative thoughts. And, important, you need to really believe yourself when you think this positive thought. This may seem ridiculous or useless to you, but forcing your brain to think the new positive thought creates new neurological pathways.

What will happen to the path in the field we spoke about earlier when you stop walking there? It will slowly return to its original state, won’t it? The same thing happens in the brain. If you stop thinking a specific thought the connection becomes weaker and weaker. This is the wonder of brain plasticity or neuroplasticity! The weaker the connection gets, the less you will experience the emotions associated with that thought. Isn’t it amazing?!

So, in short. Pay attention to your thoughts. Really examine them. Find evidence of the contrary. Re-frame the  negative thought. Pay attention to the new thought. Think that thought over and over. Start feeling more positive.

I would like you to take responsibility for your emotions by examining your thoughts. Don’t be a victim of your thoughts. You can control them. You are in charge!

Trust me on this. You will see the change after a while.