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Why am I afraid of rejection?

Q: I am a 37 years old male seeking answers to the following questions:

  1. Why am I afraid of rejection?
  2. Why am I not able to say no to people even if I want to?
  3. Why do I feel the desperate need for acceptance?

A:Your three questions could be asked by many shy, lonely individuals: They like people, want to be social and have friends, but are so shy and fearful of the possibility of rejection that they remain lonely, afraid to take a chance. In psychiatry we say such a person has a social phobia, but that is just a name that describes the condition. A consultation and treatment by a mental health professional -a social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist -is the first step to getting over social phobia. There are medications that can help, but the most important treatment is counseling to help the person discover the cause of the fear. It may come from experiences in childhood in the family. It may be due to a shy, inborn temperament. It may be due to a combination. The causes are often multiple, and they interact, which is why a professional is needed to sort things out and propose actions to overcome the fear. Social phobia is serious, but can be treated. The sooner treatment begins, the better.

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