Rejection is one of the most painful experiences that a person can go through. And it is also something that all people have experienced and will experience. Rejection can apply to all kinds of things. But when it comes to dealing with rejection on a personal level, what we’re really talking about is situations in which YOU or something about you is the thing being dismissed as inadequate, inappropriate or unwanted. It is essentially a NO relative to YOU in a situation where you want or need them to say yes to you; because them saying yes would feel like you are accepted and taken in by them as appropriate, wanted, and valued.
The biggest question you’re going to have if you struggle with rejection is: Why Me? Why am I the one not being accepted, wanted or valued? You will begin to subconsciously think things like: Why should I value me, if no one else does? The first thing to know about rejection is that it is perfectly normal to personalize things and to feel like crap when you’re in situations where you perceive yourself to have been rejected.
All pain boils down to some form of separation. When someone says NO to you or something about you, it is felt as a push away. The deepest need of the physical human is closeness and connection. We are biologically wired to maintain closeness with tribe, our survival depends on it, and so we are wired to feel actual physical pain when we are at risk of ostracization. So it would stand to reason that the deepest pain is to be pushed away by someone. It usually causes us to go into fight or flight mode, doubt our own value, to fear that we may never get our needs met and to feel and really, really lonely. This is compounded by the fact that when our self-esteem dips, in order to avoid the pain of more rejection and feelings of inadequacy, we tend to isolate ourselves.
You are not going to be able to get rid of the need for social acceptance. That is as ridiculous as a fish trying to get rid of the need to be part of a school of fish. What you can do is to recognize this need within yourself and respond to that need consciously and with your free will. For this reason, if you are struggling with rejection or the fear of rejection, you would benefit immensely by reading my book, the Anatomy of Loneliness (How To Find Your Way Back To Connection).
Instead of spending a long time helping you to understand rejection, I’m going to give you a list of points that will help you to change your perspective about rejection and overcome the pain of it.
- Rejection is not a validation. Being rejected does not prove the validity or accuracy of something. For example, someone might reject something about you because they think it is bad or wrong. That does not mean that it is in fact bad or wrong. For example, if you were a blonde who was raised in a society that believed all blonde people were cursed by the devil and so you shouldn’t be near them, you would be rejected for being blonde. Would that rejection be a confirmation that being blonde is in fact bad and wrong? Stop taking rejection as validation that there is absolutely something bad or wrong about you.
- Face your emotions about the rejection. There is nothing more worthless when it comes to the topic of rejection than ideas like “stop caring what other people think”. You are not going to get anywhere by telling yourself it is no big deal. All forms of rejection are immediately painful to a physical human. What makes the difference in recovery, is how a person deals with that pain or doesn’t deal with that pain. If you suppress, deny, ignore or bulldoze emotions, you will only amplify the problem. So admit to how you feel. Having feelings does not make you weak. Quite the opposite. If you need help with this, you can watch my videos titled: How To Feel and How to Express Your Emotion. And when you find these emotions, treat yourself with compassion.
When we believe that there is something wrong or bad about us and that is why we have been rejected, we slip into shame and make that shame worse by starting to beat ourselves up. We think that doing so will cause us to change something about ourselves so we will be valued one day. Our aggression turns towards ourselves. We begin to find fault with ourselves, kick ourselves when were already down and bemoan our perceived short comings. This only backfires in the end. We become furious because we feel powerless to beat ourselves into becoming whatever we believe would make us lovable.
The fear we feel because of this powerlessness converts itself into aggression and rage. We in essence begin to reject ourselves in response to rejection. We need to practice the opposite behavior… Self-valuing, self-acceptance, self-love and compassion towards ourselves. For more information about this, watch my video titled: Compassion and How To Cultivate Compassion. You may benefit by doing ‘parts work’ with the part of you that is rejecting you and the part within you that it is doing the rejecting. To learn how to do this, watch my video titled: Parts Work, What is Parts Work and How To Do It.
- So many people are suffering from terribly low self-esteem. The core of this poor self-esteem is the feeling of not being valued. This is especially the case if they perceive themselves to have not been valued by their family members and/or peers in childhood. When we value something, we regard it as having worth to us because it is useful, important and beneficial. The realization however that can change your self-esteem completely is that. Value is entirely based on needs. “Worth” is a completely abstract concept. You cannot objectively determine the value of something. Worth has no basis in reality because it’s entirely subjective. It is a guarantee that you or the things about you will be seen as valuable to someone. If value were entirely based on needs. The most important questions to ask yourself are: Who needs me? And what do I need about me? To understand this concept in depth, watch my video titled: The Value Realization.
- When we struggle with rejection in our adult life, it is a guarantee that we have experienced rejection in our childhood and that the “rejection wound” has not healed. For this reason, resolution work relative to the original wounding is important. It is akin to facing and healing the cracked foundation of the house of your self concept. For this reason, you would benefit by doing a process that I created called The Completion Process. I have a book that I have written that details the process that is quite literally titled: The Completion Process. You can also visit www.completionprocess.com and select a practitioner to take you through the process.
- People who really suffer from rejection and the fear of rejection tend to have fixed mindsets and not believe that things are changeable. This is to say that they suffer from a sense of powerlessness and futility even relative to things they absolutely do have power over and absolutely can change. This is why rejection tends to make them feel hopeless about the future. It is really important that you change to a ‘growth’ mindset. A mindset that does not see things as set in stone, most especially the self. Our personalities and behaviors are in essence, adaptations to our environment. This means, authenticity and integration and healing will change your personality and behaviors. Life is flexible and you are flexible. Face and seek to understand and change your perspectives regarding your own perceptions of powerlessness and your perceptions that things are fixed and unchangeable and therefore inevitable.
So much about the fear of rejection and the pain of rejection is because we do not have close and intimate enough relationships with people. We aren’t asking them enough questions. We are not really taking the initiative to see into, feel into, listen to and understand them. Instead, we are stuck with ourselves and our own needs. We tell ourselves a story about why people are rejecting us. We add meaning that actually does not exist. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Meaning, The Self Destruct Button. Essentially, most of us aren’t brave enough to discover the real reason why.
We need to be brave enough and initiate putting energy forth towards learning from the rejection. Spending the time and energy in order to totally understand the real reason behind WHY we are being rejected by them can do one of two things. 1. It can make us self-aware. This puts us in a place of choice. We often do not understand how we are being perceived by others. We all have that friend who has a behavior that hurts people. We know this is why we don’t invite them to get togethers etc. But we are too afraid to tell him. If you were him, would you want to know so that you could decide to change it or not? 2. It can help us to understand that so often them saying NO to us has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with them… their own traumas and needs and wants. It can even have to do with things we would never have thought of, things that are in no way related to us or our value. Remember, really nice and valuable things are rejected every day by people who can’t afford them.
It can also bring to the surface the fact that what is really happening is incompatibility. Incompatibility can happen in a business setting, a family setting, a romantic setting and anything in between. To understand this concept in depth, watch my video titled: Incompatibility, A Harsh Reality in Relationships. Be brave enough to stop telling yourself stories about the rejection and directly talk to them instead. Tell them you really, really want the brutal, honest truth. And develop enough intimacy and ask enough questions to discover the real why.
Something that most people don’t know is that out of rejection comes your biggest sense of direction. I often talk about emotions serving as a kind of compass. Rejection can be a compass as well. This is even more the case when you are brave enough to discover the real reasons why. For example, I know a man who discovered that the real reason he was being rejected by women shortly after they became his girlfriend was because they all felt he was unavailable. He looked deeply into himself for his personal truth. He could have put tons of effort into learning how to be available in relationships. But he was a journalist. He decided that his real priority was his work, not a romantic relationship. So instead, he decided to do a course correction and specifically look for and date women who were extremely busy themselves and who wanted casual romance in their lives instead of a committed relationship where he would be needed.
To use myself as another example, in the beginning of my career, I was rejected more than a few times by people in the business of hiring spiritual teachers to speak. When I had direct conversations with them, they told me that they were interested in hiring empowering speakers, who left the audience feeling amazing and empowered after attending the speech. As opposed to me, who got up on stage and told them the truth, even if it was painful. They said people don’t return the next year, unless the speakers make them feel amazing. This feedback made my direction very clear. When I really looked deep inside myself, I realized that my calling is to be a truth teller, no matter if the truth feels good or bad. This realization directed me towards rebranding, as well as towards doing my own events catered towards people who wanted the truth and real healing based off of that truth, as opposed to people who wanted inspiration or simply to feel relief. Another person, given the same feedback might have realized that their compass was pointing them in the direction of creating more feel-good speeches. The point is, rejection can give you a strong sense of direction, if you let it. You can turn rejection into something that dramatically benefits your life.
- Reach out to people or groups where you do feel valued and accepted and to people whom you feel an affinity with. Really initiate learning how to develop deep, meaningful friendships with people. When we feel afraid of rejection or experience the pain of rejection, we compound our own ostracization by isolating ourselves and by adopting behaviors that guarantee further ostracization. When we really need to do the opposite. When we experience the pain of rejection, we become “inflamed” emotionally and physically. Being near people who accept and value you will help this inflammation to die down and this pain to be soothed. Part of this is because it secures our currently highly unstable need to belong. If we have been rejected, our need for belonging is threatened. You need to meet this need. For this reason, you would benefit by watching my videos titled: Belonging and How To Belong as well as Instant Belonging.
Pain tries to convince you that you’re the only one in it, that you’re the only one who is being rejected when everyone else is being valued and loved and accepted. But it isn’t the truth. Everyone gets rejected for something. The most valuable people in history, people like Jesus and Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King were rejected to the degree that some of them were jailed and even killed. So rejection says nothing about your actual value. And everyone feels pain when they get rejected. Whether that pain turns into suffering or not depends upon how that pain is dealt with. It depends on whether we use it to find deeper awareness, personal truth and direction. And consider that when you feel you are being rejected and therefore prevented from having something good, that might just be the universe re-directing you towards something better.