Anticipatory Rejection

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Anticipatory Rejection: What It Is and How to Overcome It

Anticipatory rejection is a pattern of behavior where you reject yourself before others have the chance to accept or reject you. This self-defeating habit can prevent you from forming lasting connections with others. In contrast to extracting rejection, which happens after a situation has occurred, anticipatory rejection occurs before anything has even happened. In this article, we will explore how mindfulness-based counseling can help you break free from this pattern and connect with empowerment and confidence.

How Can Mindfulness-based Counseling Help?

Mindfulness-based counseling is based on seeing your reality at its most simple level, without the burden of judgments of good or bad. When applied to counseling, this practice can help you examine what is leading to self-defeating thoughts that result in anticipating rejection. By becoming clear about what your reality actually is, you can challenge and change the thoughts and beliefs that are causing you to suffer.

For example, imagine feeling nervous about a job interview but confidently starting the interview without assuming that you will perform horribly. With mindfulness-based counseling, you can learn to walk out of that interview feeling excited about the possibilities of a new job that you love, feeling exhilarated about having faced your fears and accepted the challenge. This helps you connect with empowerment and confidence, which are the antidotes to anticipatory rejection.

Why Does Anticipatory Rejection Happen?

The reasons for anticipatory rejection can vary and may not always be clear at first. However, understanding the causes can help you identify and challenge the negative thoughts and beliefs that are leading to this pattern of behavior. Here are some common reasons for anticipatory rejection:

  • Childhood experiences – As children, we learn how to see ourselves, and we learn what to expect when it comes to how others see us. If we experience repeated rejection, particularly from important adults like our parents, then we learn that we are not worthwhile and that we will be rejected. This belief can persist into adulthood and result in anticipatory rejection. However, it can be changed through counseling and therapy.
  • Depression – Depression creates a very dark lens through which we see our lives. Depressive thoughts that are repeated become habituated thoughts, which can become beliefs and knowledge. Believing that people will reject us before we give them a chance to know us can create a situation where we pre-manufacture the rejection that we fear.
  • Anxiety – Anticipatory anxiety is related to anticipatory rejection since it is a fear (anxiety) of something that has not happened, including a fear of rejection. Childhood experiences can also shape our expectations of how others will see us, and this can contribute to anticipatory anxiety.
  • Self-perpetuating cycle – Once you find yourself in a cycle of expecting rejection and therefore creating it before it happens, the pain of this rejection simply fuels the next anticipation of being rejected. However, with help, this cycle can be broken through counseling and therapy.


Anticipatory rejection can be a self-defeating habit that prevents us from forming lasting connections with others. By using mindfulness-based counseling, we can learn to connect with empowerment and confidence and challenge the negative thoughts and beliefs that are leading to anticipatory rejection. If you are struggling with anticipatory rejection or other forms of emotional distress, please do not hesitate to reach out to a qualified counselor or therapist for help.

Learn more about Counseling in Austin.

Jonathan F. Anderson, LPC-s has worked in the helping profession since he started college in 1990. After completing his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas, Austin in 1994, he attended the highly-regarded University of Minnesota to earn his Master’s degree in 1997. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is recognized as a Board Approved Supervisor by the State of Texas Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors. Jonathan has completed Level-2 of the Gottman Method of Couples Counseling, and in 1998 received training from the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation in Advanced Critical Incident Stress Management & Debriefing. To learn more about Jonathan’s practice, click here: Jonathan F. Anderson, LPC-s.

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