The Day Rejection Changed my Life for the Better
How are you when you experience rejection?
When you do something that might lead to rejection, how do you behave? Do you hold back and not put in your all?
When you take action, are you actually looking for acknowledgement from others? What happens if you don’t get it? How do you respond if the feedback is critical?
The fear of rejection has plagued me all my life. From an early age, the drive to receive praise and acknowledgments from others has been powerful. For some, it leads to perfectionism- if I can just get this perfect, I’ll get the acknowledgment that I desire. For others, it leads to not giving 100% to anything- why bother trying to do something as well as possible as I am never going to get the praise from people anyway.
Seeking acknowledgment from others is a trap. If you do that, you are outsourcing your power. At best, there is only temporary relief from the fear and worry of wondering “Am I good enough?” The feeling of relief comes from outside your self-from other people.
There is NO freedom in that.
It leads to a life of pleasing others and living with little or no integrity.
I know. I have lived that life. To me, one of the most important things in the world was receiving acknowledgments from others. To be told I did a good job or someone appreciated that I’d done something might have had me flying high for hours….. or at least until I received the opposite. More often than not though, the praise or appreciation would not land. I’d talk myself out of feeling I deserved the comment and told myself they would not praise me if they really knew me. Or I’d convince myself they didn’t mean it.
However, when someone tells me I’ve done a bad job or they didn’t like what I’d done (or perhaps made no comment at all- the silence of being ignored), that stabs like a knife and that feeling can last for days.
I brought this to my coaching as this need for acknowledgment from others was bugging me. Giving my power away to others felt so disempowering. I used a specific, recent example in my life. It felt raw and real. There was a part of me that didn’t want to go there, but I also sensed it was important to address for my own freedom and well-being.
The scenario looked like this: I had shared something with a group of peers that felt vulnerable. I’d hoped to receive acknowledgments about how courageous and vulnerable I’d been. Instead, there had been silence. It felt horrible. And in the silence, I said to myself, “You could acknowledge yourself you know!”. And that is what I did. I said to myself, “Well, if no one else will acknowledge me, I will acknowledge myself. I am courageous to be so vulnerable in this group.”
It felt good to acknowledge myself. And as I worked through this process with my coach, I realised I’d never needed acknowledgment from others. I’d only ever needed to acknowledge myself. It’s lovely to receive acknowledgment from others, but, if I can acknowledge myself, then my experience of praise from others, as well as rejection from others, is very different.
Rejection and Freedom
I’ve noticed that receiving praise from others, as a result of this work, is very affirming. I can see what they are acknowledging me for with more clarity and appreciation. The praise lands and I can see how what they are saying applies to me. So now the acknowledgment from others has real value to me and I can savour the experience. It is joyous and it is appropriate. Self-appreciation and humility seem to go hand-in-hand. And I experience none of the dialogue I used to have because I have done the work to appreciate myself already. And I continue to do that work.
I’ve also noticed that rather than rejection be this devastating experience, where I tell myself I am not good enough or I’ve done something wrong or I am a failure, now, rejection has become an open door, an invitation or opportunity to possibility. Rejection is energising and a reminder of who I truly am.
Rejection- an invitation to possibility
Let me explain. If I acknowledge myself, I claim my power back. I no longer find myself needing to modify my behaviour to please others. I can be honest with myself and others. Because, in seeking acknowledgment from others, I am ultimately rejecting myself. In seeking acknowledgment from others, I am asking them to acknowledge me rather than for me to truly acknowledge myself.
It’s a pattern of behaviour I’ve gotten used to. I’ve trained myself out of the habit of acknowledging myself and into the habit of seeking external acknowledgment.
For my belief is that we are all born in full acknowledgment of who we are. This is part of our Sovereignty. Somehow, I trained myself out of this. And I see many others train themselves out of this too. But it leaves us vulnerable to rejection. To the extent that we give our power away. We don’t do what we would love to do. We don’t honour ourselves and place others over doing what is right for us.
That doesn’t mean we won’t ever be rejected. It means that when we are rejected, when we do make a stand for what is right for us, we make it mean something different. Rather than mean, “I am wrong”, it can mean we have a difference of opinion and that it is OK that we think differently. Instead of meaning, “I am a failure”, it can mean I am a stand for what I believe in. If someone does not like me, it does not mean I am bad. It can mean we do not get on. Perhaps our values do not align, or we have incompatible perspectives.
A New Paradigm
Suddenly, rejection looks OK. Now, rejection looks like it gives me time to focus on those that enhance my life, people I can serve, those I love. Rejection energises me, opens the door to possibility and an opportunity to acknowledge who I am. Perhaps it invites me to question and decide to change who I am being. Other times it may lead me to embrace who I am more fully.
Yes, the old patterns of fearing rejection are still there. But I sense a gap widening where I can be compassionate with myself and say, “That is what you used to believe, and you used to think it served you. Now, you want to be someone different and know that it no longer serves to think that way”. I smile and get on with taking action even though I feel that rejection. The widening gap makes all the difference. I can see it is old thinking and I am practising new thinking and a new way of being:
A man who sees rejections as an invitation to self-acknowledgment. Someone who sees rejection as a positive reflection of who they are and what they stand for. A person who sees rejection as an opportunity to focus their time and energy on what really matters to them- love and service.
Over to You
What matters to you? How does rejection get in the way, or enhance, your relationship with what matters?