“Sorry, I can’t be with you anymore.”
I remember those words, spoken by a man I really cared for as he walked away. What I remember more distinctly, though, was that pain—that punch in the gut that followed. Many of us us know it all too well. After we are broken up with, after a divorce, after a job lay-off—even after being passed up for a promotion.
None of us are immune to it.
It doesn’t matter where we are in life, and whether it’s ending a marriage or breaking up with a partner. Even the strongest of us can’t help but feel like we did something wrong when someone we loved, cared about, and spent our lives with suddenly doesn’t want to be with us anymore.
“Why don’t they love me anymore?”
“What did I do wrong?”
“What’s wrong with me?”
“What could I have done differently?”
These thoughts—the “shoulda coulda woulda” thoughts that hijack our brains and healing—have a nasty way of creeping up on us as we try to regain our confidence and self-esteem. Many times, we think that we are to blame for the fact that our relationship ended. That self-blame usually leads us to feel rejected, like we are not worthy of love as we start this new chapter in our lives.
It’s time we start looking at rejection in a different way—as something that will empower us instead of a stupid feeling that continues to hold us down, question ourselves, and steal us of our self-worth.
The next time we are feeling bad because of a recent rejection—whether it is from the end of a long marriage, or because the person we were dating decided not to return our calls, or because we don’t get hired for the job we were hoping for, remember the following.
Rejection is like a trippy fun house mirror; it is not an accurate reflection of us or our self-worth.
We have all seen them—whether at the carnival or a beach boardwalk—we have passed those long, silly mirrors and stopped in front of them to look.
What do we see there? Do we see a smiling reflection looking back? Do we see the wise and strong people we are?
Nope—instead, we see this warped vision of ourselves with a stretched-out head or shortened legs. It’s really not us. And it’s not a reflection of us. We’re fully aware of this, so we probably just laugh and continue enjoying the carnival.
Rejection is the same thing. The fact that somebody doesn’t want to be with us has nothing to do with us—it has everything to do with the warped perspective the rejecter is projecting on us. Their rejection is that stupid fun-house mirror. And our reaction to that rejection—the one where we wonder what we did wrong or why they don’t love us anymore—is nothing more than the stretched head and widened body we see in that silly mirror.
So instead of just standing in front of the mirror, worrying how it makes us look, just step away from it.
Instead of staying in the prison of rejection, thinking that it defines who we are, just move away from it. Focus on what makes us feel good, what we are proud of in this life, and everything that we have accomplished.
Once we focus on ourselves, there’s something important we need to understand. It’s a secret about rejection that many don’t know, and few know how to integrate.
Rejection is a gift because it dodges a bullet.
When I think of all the times I was rejected, in those moments I thought my world was ending. But now I realize these things were actually a huge blessing in disguise.
A few months ago, I was laid off from a job because the corporate big-wigs said I wasn’t needed anymore. But looking back, I knew that rejection actually served me well because it meant I was leaving a company that no longer valued me, and it was giving me a chance to pursue work that was more professionally and spiritually satisfying. If that rejection hadn’t happened, I’d probably still be there. Unhappy and unfulfilled.
Years ago, I was dumped by somebody I was dating and I remember feeling like my life was over. But that rejection turned out to be a blessing in disguise because being out of that relationship helped me realize how unhealthy and controlling it had been, spending time with someone who did not deserve my love.
The rejections we all are dealing with, although varied, are actually the same at the core. The rejection of a partner not wanting to be in that relationship anymore, or that person not returning our calls, or that boss who doesn’t appreciate us and is letting us go, is actually the universe saying, “Hey! You deserve better than this B.S.! Consider this your wake-up call to go and work on yourself, find out what makes you happy, and establish your independence!”
Like this, we learn to live each day mindfully. What better gift is there than that?
What rejection are you currently navigating? And what will you do to over come it?
Author: Martha Bodyfelt
Image: Amy Deanne/Flickr
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman
Social Editor: Taia Butler