A Reflection on Rejection
I thought I would cover the topic of rejection as it is something I am fairly certain we have all experienced at one time or another in our lives. Whichever way we are approaching it, rejecting or being rejected, can have a monumental impact.
Very often as human beings we are shaped to believe that our worth is measured by the reaction and behaviour of others, that is it has to come from an external source. Whether we have been turned down for that ‘dream job’, or someone important has walked away from us, or we have not been included in something, it all comes down to the same thing, we feel rejected. Naturally, this belief is most likely something that has been thrust upon us from a young and impressionable age.
I find it interesting that we can have a tendency to automatically decide that if we are rejected we must not be good enough, and thus we can end up with what could be a fruitless mission to restore our worth. I think, sadly, when we are approaching it from that angle it can become extremely detrimental to our own wellbeing. Not only are we giving our power and control away to others, we could very likely be setting ourselves up by stepping in to the same cycle; or indeed not really allowing ourselves to fully go there again for fear of possibly enduring the same feelings of pain. Either way that does not make for a wholehearted and happy life.
I have had massive struggles with rejection throughout my life and I know exactly where they stem from. I remember many years ago one of my brothers said to me ‘What is it with you and rejection?’. To be honest at the time that he said that I felt more rejected than understood. My own struggles came from a very complex childhood that was splattered with abuse at every level where I fought every day to receive some kind of healthy love. My whole view of love was skewed and challenged by the actions of others. What I totally understand today is that, of course, those experiences were going to have an impact. Every time I stood up I was knocked back down; being consistently knocked down was where the seed of rejection was sown.
I have experienced rejection in the extreme throughout my life. I have been rejected by family, by friends, from progressing in my career, by men, by women, by people I have loved and by people that I believe have loved me. On some of those occasions the ‘rejection’ has caused me deep deep pain. You could argue that I am one big ball of rejection; I prefer to view it slightly differently to that.
When I truly reflect on my experiences of rejection, yes I have not always got things right. What I know for sure is that a lot of the ‘rejecting’ I have encountered has been because my values were not aligned with the people that chose to do that to me. Take for example my time working with people with addiction issues. I displayed integrity, compassion, dedication, professionalism, kindness, authenticity and creativity, and my clients had a total respect for me. It was my employers that rejected me because I was not aligned with their values. Today I wouldn’t change a thing because I was not prepared to compromise my values to fit in a box that lacked integrity. Therefore I guess I had to take the rejection on the chin!
One of the main achievements in my life is to have overcome and indeed break that cycle of abuse, it took many painful experiences and a great deal of learning about myself and others to achieve that. I have been rejected for that. Today I wouldn’t change a thing because I don’t do abuse, either subtle or direct. Therefore to stand in my power and stick to my values has been worth every bit of the negative I have encountered.
It could be viewed that I have done my fair share of ‘rejecting’, although, on occasion it has caused me great discomfort and at times it has been a lonely path. It has quite simply been because I have chosen not to be controlled by another person; I have chosen authenticity over superficiality; I have chosen integrity over dishonesty; I have chosen compassion over judgement; I have chosen equality over inequality; I have chosen forgiveness over blame; I have chosen love over hate. As hard as it may have been to sit with those values that oppose my own, I have an acceptance of the differences. That said, I will not compromise my own values because they are fundamentally what make me the person I am today. That is the most important factor for me that I stand fully in the person I am. Those values I possess didn’t just happen they came from a journey that has challenged every bone in my body; I have endured the polar opposite of who I am and it holds no desire for me. If I am rejected for that, then today I have an acceptance for that.
I am drawing from my own experiences because that is the best way to articulate authentically what I now understand about rejection. I really do want to emphasise that when we perceive that we are being rejected it is not because we are not good enough. Yes, obviously on occasion we don’t get jobs because perhaps we don’t have the necessary experience; or if a relationship or a friendship does not work out it is most probably that those two people are not aligned at the right time, that is not rejection, that is fact. What I suspect is, we do not always have clarity around the entire picture. If we were to scratch beneath the surface it is quite possible that the person doing the rejecting is on some level not ready to face or receive what we bring to the table. Equally we may not be open to what they are offering. There is a big difference between that and you not being good enough.
Earlier I talked about where my own seeds of rejection were sown and as I re-read what I had written what stands out most to me in that paragraph is ‘every time I stood up I was knocked back down’. Well I can safely say I am still standing, and I will keep getting back up. Why? Because I have worked very hard to keep hold of the person I am today, so why would I allow the fear of rejection to override being what I perceive to be enough? What a terrible waste of a life that would be! One thing I have learned through my experiences is that whoever is in my life can only successfully be there if they meet me halfway; that balance for me is critical.
So what I would say to you is consider that when you are feeling rejected, is it really about you not being good enough? Ask yourself what am I being rejected from? Is it something that goes against your own values and beliefs; but nonetheless you are prepared to compromise that for the sake of being accepted? Be open to the possibility that just may be you are not being rejected because ‘you are not good enough’; moreover is it perhaps that you have been given an opportunity to accept that you are enough? I think there are occasions when we have to give people the space to explore and find out for themselves that they really are enough. Sometimes they will choose to and sometimes they won’t; whatever they decide that should never be a definitive measure of you.
And what would I say to those of you that have a tendency to push things away. Think carefully about what you are rejecting. The freedom to discover the best version of you? The opportunity to sit with your own values and beliefs, rather than those that were given to you? Perhaps review the notion that a fight to be immune from pain will most probably be challenged time and again. And yes you can keep fighting and not feeling, but really ask yourself if that is an acceptable and worthwhile trade off? As one day you may just wake-up and realise that what you have rejected could be the very thing you had always been seeking.
Ultimately whatever perspective you are coming from think carefully before you run in to a cave or equally push people out of your cave. Try to look within and understand what really sits at the core of this. Is it a painful memory that you are allowing to be reinforced by either minimising yourself or minimising others? If so acknowledge it, accept it, forgive it and release it. Consider what the rejection is trying to tell you? Is it asking you to stay flailing on the ground? Or are you being pushed to rise stronger and taller, and finally become aligned with you?
You are enough. Once you accept that then your life will become boundless. A couple of key ingredients that I believe will help to achieve that are: one, more compassion, and two, less expectation, both towards yourself and others. Take a moment to imagine how it would feel to allow being ‘enough‘ to truly shine through. And honestly for every person that rejects that there will be a person that accepts it.
Someone recently said to me ‘Amanda, the people that care about you are the people that matter’. That is not to say that those that don’t care don’t matter, everybody has the right to matter; but I think an investment in the people that care has got to be one of the most fulfilling choices we can make in life.