What are the emotions that come up for you when you hear the word rejection and think of your last encounter? Humiliation? Shame? Abandonment? Worthlessness? These are all really barbed emotions. They stick into our emotional bodies like ticks and suck off our enthusiasm. And at every similar incident real or perceived they are readily twisted, going deeper – hurting more.
Years ago we had a hound whose nature overcame his experience on more than one occasion and he would sheepishly come home with a nose embedded with porcupine quills. His eyes would be dull with humility and pain while I called the vet. She would come over and we’d ‘trank’ Hogan and lay him out on the dining room table. Dr. Helena would then gently snip the tips off the outer ends. This would let the quill breathe and relax the hook embedded in the injured nose. All would be well.
That is what I want to do today – snip the barb off the word rejection and shift your perspective so you can see it as good with the one exception and that is when you do it to yourself. That is not good but easily corrected. We all have these barbs, when the guy in high school chose the blond with long straight hair over your dark curls and you thought it was about looks and felt ugly. Or you got fired from your job and you felt humiliated and incompetent remembering your teacher’s comment on a failing mark. You sent off your manuscript and got rejection after rejection and felt that ‘they’ obviously hated you, hated your work and hated the horse you rode in on!
But there is failure and there is feedback. Failure to connect with the right person who would love you for who you are, failure to find the job that you would love and thrive in and failure to meet the criteria of a publisher. We call it failure when we feel rejected and attach the emotion that it reignited in us. But truly we must see these situations as valuable information and signposts along our way to the expression of our greatest potential.
And this is where the ‘bad’ rejection comes in. This rejection is self-rejection. We choose not to enter the game for fear of the rejection of others so we reject ourselves first. Our ego is in charge in these deflections, which does not want a repeat of uncomfortable emotions. When you lean toward freeing yourself from these self-judgments ego will even call up all of these uncomfortable emotions – from which it is trying save you – full colour with body consciousness (complete with blush at times).
The more I have grown into my own philosophy of claiming everyday happiness as a birthright; I have come to welcome the fast track of rejection. Mine by others and more importantly mine of others. When you know you can have the life of your dreams and be fully self-actualized as Abraham Maslow described it, you want to fill your life with the many people and experiences that support that.
You want people in your life who share your values, boost you on your way when you are doubtful, love your wrinkles and quirky bits. You want life work that is meaningful and expresses all your talents, helps you hone them and develop greater skill in using them. Creatively we want to excel in a world that has become satisfied with formula and mediocrity. If we want to make a living from our creations then we have to practice, polish and edit until we offer the world our finest not our easiest.
If we take the emotional barbs out of the word rejection so that we don’t take it as a personal assault, we can be grateful that we have another chance to find the better path. The more quickly we move on from this kind of rejection and name it feedback rather than failure the quicker we come into our own unique life. Our purpose becomes clear. We are enlivened with enthusiasm for our work. We attract the very kinds of friends, lovers, colleagues, mentors and competitors that make life worthwhile and exciting.
In our unique expressions we are, each of us, precious and worthy contributors to this unfolding and evolving world. There is no fear of failure, because if we are just who we are, we can never fail – nor can we be judged. We can go into the world with courage not seeking acceptance but finding kindred spirits. You will find yourself ‘rejecting’ the people and situations that detract from this aliveness. You don’t mean it personally; it’s just that there is no fit with the life you desire. It will be up to them if they take it as rejection or just feedback on their own track to self-fulfillment.
You are not responsible for how anyone else perceives you. If their rejection or judgment rises from the insecurity that call some to reject before they might be rejected, then that is not feedback, but impersonal noise. It is not about you at all, but about them. On the other hand if the rejection is genuine feedback to call you to a higher skill or competence well within your personal expression, then that is feedback for which you must be not only humble to hear but also grateful to receive. We need such challenges to come out of our own self-rejection and self-criticism into the light of who we truly are and what we are doing here on Earth.
Before you go into autopilot when you are assailed with a sense of ‘failure’, pause and have a good look at exactly what kind of feedback life is offering up. Make a cool assessment, follow the signposts and then take a bold step into the marvellous life that has been waiting for you!