Bonus: How to Bike Every Day:
We can be affected by rejection in many different ways.
I might apply for a job, and get rejection after rejection. I might want to find clients, but either I can’t find them or they keep saying no. I might be dating and looking for an amazing man or woman, and I can’t find him or her or they are not interested in me. Another example might be that although I desire new ideas, I can’t connect with my creativity.
Rejection today is also easily triggered by the enormous amount of time we spend on social media: posts not being liked, comments not being made, and videos not being watched.
Rejection is not so much about how it appears in our lives but more about how it feels to be rejected.
And that feeling can come up after being turned down for a job, or turned down for a second date, or when we can’t go out with friends because of a lack of money. Whatever the situation might be, when we’re feeling rejected, in our mind, we are being rejected.
The origin of rejection:
Evolutionary psychologists theorize that when we were hunter-gatherers and lived in tribes, we were dependent on each other for survival. Since we could not survive alone, being rejected by our tribe was basically a death sentence. To prevent that from happening, we developed an early warning mechanism to alert us when we were in danger of being rejected by our fellow tribe-mates.
To have that early warning mechanism work effectively, the feeling of rejection is accompanied by physical pain. As Studies show that the same parts of our brain that are associated with physical pain are also triggered when we feel rejection.
So the more prone we were to feel rejection, the more likely we were to change our behavior, remain in the tribe, and live happy and healthy lives.
Other origins of rejection:
Rejection doesn’t have to be a bad thing in itself. While feeling rejected isn’t something we can do much about, we do have a choice whether we want to hold on to the feeling of rejection. And how we react to it is also our choice.
Feeling rejected for a short amount of time is beneficial because it makes us adjust our own behavior if necessary, but hanging on to that feeling, letting that it inhibit us, and constantly feeling bad isn’t the way to go. When rejection affects us emotionally for long periods of time, there’s likely more going on than meets the eye. There might be an underlying, deeper issue regarding rejection that is being triggered.
Working with your rejections:
Whatever happens in our outer world is a reflection of what happens in our inner world. Rejections are also manifestations of what’s going on within us.
So if we’re feeling rejected too often, this means that something within us needs to be worked on.
You see, there are parts of us that are conscious and there are parts of us which are unconscious. For example, I might feel like a loser when playing board games, because as a child, I was pushed to win. Because I’m aware of this, I don’t play that board games very often. I haven’t resolved this issue yet—because I’m still avoiding the situation—but, being aware of what’s going on within me is the first conscious step to working with feeling rejected.
However, I might not be totally aware that I’m afraid to open up to my lover because I fear being hurt. This may result in me being distant and acting tougher than I really feel. I probably don’t really know I’m doing this, nor do I really understand the cause of that behavior. This is being unconscious of those deeper rejections.
But whether I’m conscious of my behavior or not, it all still emanates energy—these parts of ourselves want to be seen and healed. Like nature, we want to unify and be made whole, including the parts of us that are feeling rejected.
Because those parts emanate energy, they attract people and circumstances that are somehow associated with that unconscious part of us. This offers us the opportunity to go within and shine our light on our shadow parts.
Rejections, when we feel they are inhibiting us and are detrimental to us, are also manifestations of something unresolved within us.
Three steps to healing your feelings of rejection:
So, when we want to learn what our rejections are telling us about ourselves, there are a few things we can do:
Take a look at your life and see how often you feel or you experience rejection. Be honest and take your time for this. You might feel rejected more often than you are aware of. First, think about a situation that very clearly represented rejection. Pay attention to how you feel and what you think. You can use these sensations and thoughts to compare to other situations where you may have felt rejected as well (and are unaware of).
You can write in your journal at the end of the day how often and when you felt rejected. Also, write about what and how you felt when it happened.
It might be difficult to acknowledge those emotions because they hurt, but it’s really important that you do. Rejecting or ignoring feelings that hurt allows them to continue to influence your life in a way that’s not empowering you. So it’s really important for you to acknowledge how you feel.
The next step is to carve out 20 minutes of your time to sit with your feelings of rejection. Being able to let those emotions be is an important step into acknowledging and accepting them, paving the way for you to learn the lessons they’re providing.
When we practice allowing our feelings, the emotional charge that comes with that experience will lessen. And when that happens, you can more easily uncover what it is that you’ve been hiding from yourself.
With this step, it’s important to watch what’s happening within you, to examine the whirlwind of emotions. To experience what it does to you without losing yourself in the emotion.
When you’re comfortable enough with the emotion, you can ask yourself two questions:
When was the last time you felt like this?
When was the first time you felt like this?
Asking these questions will bring back memories of other times you experienced rejection, and maybe even the very first time it happened. This will lead you to understanding why you’re holding on to those rejections—they’ll remind you of an unresolved issue from the past. A wound not yet healed. A belief about yourself that is not serving you, that is holding you back from being the best version of yourself.
Whenever we feel something we don’t want to feel, we often engage in certain behaviors that help us ignore that feeling. For example, watching Netflix, eating, drinking, reading, or working out—these are all forms of escape.
Once we see these behaviors for what they are, we can then work through our emotions (or reach out for professional help to do so).
Often, these behaviors happen so fast that it’s hard to stop the process. Dealing with our feelings of rejection can be as as difficult to cope with as when we experience the rejection itself—and it’s much easier to watch Netflix or eat those cookies to relieve ourselves from that tension. Stopping this escape mechanism is something we don’t have to do alone, which is why asking for help is important.
Now it’s your turn! Start with the first step and contemplate how often you felt rejection, however tiny it might be. Then schedule in time to work with step two.
Three R’s of Coping with Rejection.
Bonus: 5 Mindful Things to Do Each Morning.
Author: Carmen Smallegange
Image: Averie Woodard/Unsplash
Editor: Catherine Monkman
About the author:
Carmen Smallegange is a coach specialized in uncovering and transforming limiting beliefs. Using her own life lessons, she shines a new and fresh light on negative experiences to empower others to do the same and to acknowledge and step into their own amazing potential.
You can get her free download on how to take One Small Step to get to know the real you or follow her on Facebook.Browse Front PageShare Your Idea
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I like how to talk about rejection being an inside thing to deal with. I find it really easy to perceive rejection as something that other people are doing, but your activity puts that power of emotion back into my hands.