The Most Important Step to Overcoming Rejection
Although rejection may occur in entirely different spheres of human relationships, it generally conveys the same messages of non-acceptance such as:
There is something wrong with you.
You are disliked.
You will never change.
You do not belong in this group.
You are at fault / you did something wrong, or unacceptable.
You are not one of us.
The ability to subvert the harmful, long lasting effects of being rejected depends on your ability to understand the behavior of the individual who rejects, the way you choose to interpret the messages conveyed by rejection, and how you choose to integrate those messages into your sense of self.
That is right! Your response to rejection, the power it exacts, or does not exact over you is a CHOICE. I hope this article empowers you today by the knowledge that you can be completely unscathed by what is otherwise a very ego damaging experience simply by choosing not to internalize the negative message you have received.
Rejection assigns blame; it is by assigning blame that the party, who is rejecting the other party, is able to feel absolved and free of any responsibility to work on the relationship or situation. You (what you did, who you are, or what you did not do), is the focus of rejection and the means by which the blame it assigns is expressed.
This is why when coaching clients in effective communication techniques, I generally encourage them to avoid the word YOU when issues arise and effective and assertive communication is needed.
To avoid internalizing your experience of rejection, you must proactively make a choice to face your fears, as well as express and share your experience no matter how shameful. In doing so, you reduce your feeling of aloneness. As you face your fears, and share the emotions provoked by your experience, you are sure to encounter others with similar stories maybe worse. This is very vital in turning the tide of being rejected, suddenly your focus shifts from you, and what you may, or may not have done, to the knowledge that rejection is just an experience like any other negative experience. It is not about you, because if it was, there would not be so many others with similar stories, or worse.
Is rejection ever justified? In my opinion, this would be similar to asking if it is ever justified to blame, fault-find, or condemn. Rejection begins with and ends by identifying the faults in the other party. It never acknowledges the strengths, the untapped potential, or change-ability of the individual. It is not an expression of loyalty, and contributes nothing to a relationship except to absolve the person blaming from any responsibility to engage in problem solving or remain loyal.
For anyone dealing with rejection, it is frequently not what was done, but how it was done, what was said, and how the entire situation played out that ultimately results in that sense of unworthiness. To overcome feeling rejected, you must detach yourself from these memories of your experience and instead attach yourself to the reality of your unknown potential.
How do you stop feeling that you earned the rejection you received because of some fault in your personality, or deficiencies in your physical attributes, or because you could not be all you were expected to be? Here is a little exercise: jot down on a piece of paper, all the reasons for which you suspect, or maybe have even been told, that you were not worthy of love or acceptance. Which of these reasons detract from the uniqueness of who you are, the mysteries of your intrinsic gifts and talents, and most important, the potential you have for change? If your answer was None, then my response to you is to focus on your potential, not on the condemning messages of what you did or did not do. Be empowered today, knowing that you deserved that chance to evolve, to work on your potential, and you deserved the chance to do it a non-judgmental environment.
Understanding the mechanisms of rejection and knowing that it is never, and I repeat, never warranted or earned are the most fundamental keys to safeguarding your self esteem and sense of self worth. This is a choice. You have to make a choice about how you are going to understand the messages of rejection you receive everyday, and how you are going to, or not going to, integrate these messages into your psyche.
If you are struggling with rejection as a result of a divorce, childhood abuse/neglect, discrimination, repeated failures, or any other acts of betrayal you may need the help of a therapist to most effectively apply the techniques discussed in this article. Group therapy is particularly helpful. Initial one-to-one therapy may be necessary to prepare you for group work. Remember that facing your fears, expressing and sharing your experience, no matter how shameful, is vital in overcoming the aloneness that rejection creates and which sustains its impact.
Make a choice today to focus on the dynamic you and your untapped potential and you will be unscathed by any experiences of rejection.
Click Here to learn more about Claire Arene, MSW, LCSW.