February 17, 2023

A Buddhist Teaching on Rejection: You are Luckier than you Think.


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Rejection is ugly.

It’s painful, messy, and unpredictable. It’s everything we don’t want to face.

It’s difficult to accept it or even believe that someone wants nothing to do with us. Whether we get rejected socially or romantically, the sting of rejection hurts badly. It leaves a mark on our hearts, possibly triggering past hurt and traumas.

But rejection goes deeper than irritating feelings. Most times, it gives birth to negative emotions such as hatred, anger, and vengeance. We might feel the need to inflict punishment or hurt on the person who has rejected us. We want them to feel the same ugly sting and understand the suffering they have put us through.

We think that by holding on to our feelings of anger or hatred we might re-establish some of the self-worth we have lost along the way.

According to Buddhism, our unwillingness to accept rejection is an ego issue. Our ego is always attached to certain outcomes; if we don’t get them, it instantly becomes aggressive. We become fragile and revert to aggression, which, as the Buddhists believe, only creates more suffering.

Rejection is so ugly that it clearly steers us away from our most fundamental qualities: forgiveness, goodness, and wisdom. When our self-worth and self-confidence take a hit, it becomes difficult to get in touch with the infinite goodness within us. It even becomes challenging to look ahead.

Thubten Yeshe, the Tibetan Lama who co-founded Kopan Monastery in Nepal where I studied Buddhism, once said:

“For those seekers investigating the nature of inner reality, problems help; instead of harming, problems benefit them. Problems give them more energy, greater wisdom and deeper realizations. Negative experiences become positive. They don’t even see such experiences as negative but as opportunities to learn.”

When our mind is clouded by annoyance and hurt, it’s difficult to see that rejection might be helpful. It’s a direct doorway to wisdom and liberty. It’s an opening—a celebration of some kind.

Looking back at all the times when I was rejected, I felt so defeated and powerless. However, at some point, my feelings of defeat transformed into opportunities. Because of rejection, I am who I am today. Because of disappointment, I am where I am today. But it’s impossible to see the opportunities right away. Our ego can’t easily accept that there is some positivity lurking beneath unfortunate events.

That said, if we are rejected, let’s see what we can do with that rejection. Consider it a gift, an opportunity to save yourself and the other from suffering. Consider it your chance to forgive, to feel your feelings.

“Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.” ~ The Dalai Lama

You are luckier than you think, folks.



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