I was talking to a friend yesterday who’s miserable in her job. She’s a finance professional with the same job for 15 years. The pay is low for her quality and amount of work, the benefits are minimal, and the work has become boring and mundane. 

I asked her if she’s applied to other jobs and her answer was this:

“I’d love to try a different company or something new in a different field but the last time I applied somewhere, I never heard back. Plus, I’m 58, I don’t want to have to learn new systems, meet new people, and start all over again. What if I don’t like my new boss, or discover that I don’t like the new work? I’m comfortable here even though I don’t enjoy it.”

If nothing changes, my friend will spend the next 15 years repeating the last 15 years: frustrated about a job she doesn’t enjoy and wishing for something different. 

When I dug deeper into her reasons (aka excuses), she admitted easily that she has a fear of rejection. She doesn’t want to apply for new jobs because she’s afraid companies won’t want her.

When I coach people who express that they have a fear of rejection, I know there’s something deeper going on. Fear of rejection is a common theme that’s a general catch-all for not wanting to confront the underlying insecurities and emotional wounds. 

While she may have a fear of rejection, it’s not the fear that’s holding her back. It’s the unwillingness to feel the pain of unworthiness and inadequacy that already exists inside her. 

Read that sentence again. It’s important to understand the distinction. 

People often hide behind the idea that they have a fear of rejection, leading them to become stuck for years, hesitant to take any action. In their attempts to address this fear, they may resort to rationalizing it away, convincing themselves that the potential outcomes of rejection aren’t as dire as they seem. Despite these efforts, they find themselves trapped in a cycle where nothing seems to change. 

Fear of rejection, however, is merely a surface-level excuse for a deeper problem. At its core lies a profound wound – the belief that they’re unworthy or not good enough.

My friend carries this wound inside her, protected by layers of defense mechanisms and excuses (that disguise themselves as valid and justified reasons) to avoid feeling and confronting it, but it seeps out in everything she does.

Do you remember the last time you had a splinter in your finger?

It hurt when anything touched it, and you protected yourself from the pain by avoiding anything that could press up against it. The area around the splinter reddened, swelled, and became very sensitive. Maybe you put a Band-Aid over it to shield it from further irritation. But despite your efforts to cover it up, the splinter was still there, causing discomfort and a constant, dull ache, even when you weren’t paying attention to it. It wasn’t until you finally removed the splinter that the pain subsided and the healing process could truly begin.

In the same way, the belief of unworthiness and not-good-enough-ness is like that splinter, a constant source of underlying pain. 

Rejection is what brushes up against the splinter, triggering the reminder of the wound and the pain that comes along with it, bringing it to the forefront of your awareness. 

When my friend gets rejected by a company, she feels the pain of the wound sharply, and therefore she contracts and avoids doing anything that might trigger that pain again. 

But make no mistake, the pain is always there, even when she’s not facing active rejection. It just shifts from an underlying dull ache that she’s learned to live with to a sharp unavoidable pain that demands her attention in the moment.

To truly heal, she needs to address the splinter itself, not just avoid the situations that might aggravate it.

Part of healing the splinter involves being willing to endure the pain when you’re pulling it out. Sometimes you have to cut the area around the splinter to dig it out, intensifying the pain. 

In healing your core wounds, sometimes it feels more painful in the beginning because the area is sore and raw, and you’ve removed all the protective, defensive layers.

The important thing to remember is that you’re stronger than the pain, and the intensity of the pain in digging it out is only temporary. Once you’ve removed the splinter, your skin will heal and the pain will be forever gone. Likewise, once you confront the core wound fully, you’ll never have to feel the intensity of the pain again. 

You’ll be free to make choices and take action based on the life you truly want to live rather than constantly avoiding situations that trigger the pain.


If you want to dive deeper and heal your emotional wounds, click here to explore our courses and offerings. 


Fear of rejection is a common theme that’s a general catch-all for not wanting to confront the underlying insecurities and emotional wounds. 

Tree Franklyn

For more, watch this video to learn about the counter-intuitive way that I healed my core wound of unworthiness. I wish I knew this when I was in my 20’s. It would’ve saved me so many years of people-pleasing, fawning and struggling. 🙂

@treefranklyn Learn to master your energy so you can heal your past and create a new & empowered future. See link in my profile to work with me. #spirituality #healingjourney ♬ original sound - Tree Franklyn