That feeling of rejection. The worst right? The stab in the gut. That feeling of utter uselessness. Kind of feels like the world might be crumbling down on you?
I feel you. I see you.
I’ve had my fair share of what I thought was rejection. In fact, I reckon I spent much of my teens and 20s being perpetually ‘rejected’ by people I had momentarily fallen in lust with, and then there were all the other pseudo rejections like not being asked to be bridesmaid for people, not being invited to certain things, not getting that promotion or feeling not ‘chosen’ in some sense.
Anyway, I feel like I’ve had a fair amount of experience with this one so feel as if I have some authority in talking about it.
The thing I’ve learnt over the years is that, however painful it may be, rejection is actually a blessing. It’s a blessing because that pain that you feel shows you something you deeply believe to be true about yourself and probably are not entirely aware of.
Ok so the thing with rejection is that it’s a thought pattern. A situation happens and we think ‘I’ve been rejected’. We could equally quite fairly think ‘Thank god I don’t have to hang out with this person’ or ‘What a relief, I don’t have to organise a hen do’ but we choose to think ‘I’ve been rejected’. Odd, right? Why are we choosing to think something that feels so inherently awful rather than thinking something that would make us feel marginally better?
This is where the magic lies.
The thing about thoughts is that we tend to repeat them on a loop. It’s easier for the mind to keep repeating the same thoughts over and over again than to think new ones so if we have a thought like ‘I’ve been rejected’, chances are… we’ll think it about a lot of things. Regardless of whether or not it’s accurate. Annoying, right?
These thought patterns usually come from some event that happened way back when, when our brains were way more malleable than they are as adults. Because our brains are super malleable back then, it’s easier for these thoughts to become engrained and for us to keep on practising them. ALL. THE. TIME. until they just repeat on a loop like that really annoying Sophie Ellis-Bextor song. A thought practiced over and over again becomes a belief that we hold about ourselves. So, if we think ‘I’ve been rejected’ over and over again, we start to believe that we are ‘reject-able’. Bleurgh!
The even more annoying thing about this, is that each time we think ‘I’ve been rejected’ (likely relatively often and probably at things that aren’t really rejection), our body gives us the same old emotional response to whatever the event was that happened way back when when we first started thinking ‘I’ve been rejected’.
What this means is that we can feel full on, hell a painful, child like OUCH at something which, in our adult minds, seems kind of minor. There is this weird split between feeling so much pain but at the same time thinking ‘stop being stupid, why are you feeling like this, it wasn’t a big deal’. Which then just makes the whole thing worse, right?
Ok, so how do we deal with the pain of it all? How do we cope when we feel like we keep getting rejected and keep feeling rubbish about it?
- First things first, try to stop the ‘I shouldn’t be feeling this’ thought. Remind yourself that your emotional response if probably linked to something which isn’t actually present right now, try to find compassion for yourself. One way of doing this is asking yourself what you would say to a child thinking ‘they shouldn’t be feeling like this’ and saying that to yourself
- Then, grab a piece of paper and write down all the times in your life that you can remember feeling that level of rejection. All of them. As far back as you can go. Chances are, they’ll be a tonne — remember the thought it probably playing on a loop so it’s likely that this isn’t the first time you’ve thought it and felt the repercussions of it
- In writing all of this out, you might find that in writing one specific past situation out, you feel a sudden…ahhhh. Almost like you’ve suddenly released the pressure from the situation. A relief of some sort.
- THAT is likely the situation your emotional response to the current scenario is linked to, even if it seems to have nothing to do with what’s going on in the present. God, brains are such a pain
- Ok so once you have that situation clear, ask the version of yourself that was in that situation what it is they wanted at the time. Was it actually accurate that that version of yourself was being rejected back then? What did they want to hear? What did they want to feel?
- How can you give that to yourself now?
It might sound weird, it might sound like it won’t work but I can promise you that it does. In recognising that our emotional responses are very very rarely linked to what is actually happening in the present and are more likely than not rooted in some old thing that happened ages ago, we can start to become less reactive and less likely to ruminate because we are able to soothe the part of ourselves that is still kind of hurting from that situation years ago.
I do this.
Any questions, let me know.