Let’s set the scene. You’re drowning in an ocean of disappointment. The waves whip around you. You gasp for air, reach for driftwood, something—anything—to hang onto. A black torrent swells. It looms and then crashes, smacks you down beneath the surface of the water. You struggle for breath. Bubbles float from your lips, the last of the oxygen you inhaled…
For most of us (including yours truly) this is how we experience rejection. Especially if it’s from something or someone we really had our heart set on.
Now. What if I told you that the ocean is lying to you?
The hardest aspects of rejection of any kind is not the rejection but the emotions we go through when we face it. Whether it’s a job, relationship, or someone choosing not to respond to your text, it’s the same. Our emotional and subsequent mental reactions are the hardest slogs. They shape our whole experience.
We think of the ocean as the rejection itself. But it isn’t. The ocean is our emotion, our thoughts.
The power and beauty of Zen is in its ability to cut through illusion. Here are 4 lies our emotions tell us about rejection. When you see these for what they are, you can rock the seven seas.
Lie # 1. Rejection is Bad.
Rejection means you’re not good enough for the team. Rejection means you’re useless. Rejection means you lose. Rejection means THEE END.
Our knee jerk reaction to rejection tends to be one dimensional. It’s not even binary. We have an automatic setting to see rejection as BAD. Not bad or good. Just bad. So if we’re rejected WE ARE BAD. Not good.
Often, rejection comes from a complex set of responses to something.
I mean, think about it. You’re at a coffee shop ordering your next Mocha Latte Enema. You spy Delectable Cookie of Goodness in the pastry case. It has All Of The Things.
Your mouth waters. You start thinking of how awesome your day will be once you have that Delectable Cookie in your grasp.
The price? 3.95
No. Just no.
No cookie is worth $4. It’s a thing of principle. The barista notices you eyeing Delectable Cookie. She asks you if you’d like the cookie.
You say no.
Or maybe you don’t want the cookie because you’ve had too many carbs today. Or you’re about to go to dinner with your Great Aunt Edina and don’t want to spoil your appetite. You get the gist. You’re not rejecting the cookie because COOKIE IS BAD. It’s just that there’s ways this cookie doesn’t work for you right now.
That’s very nice, Melanie, you say, but jobs and people aren’t cookies.
Yes. Yes, they are.
People are Big Giant Cookies, with price tags and allergenic ingredients to the EXTREME. You are a Big Cookie, too. I bet you’re a great cookie.
Rejection isn’t a matter of losing or winning and hey—guess what, neither is acceptance. Yeah, we like to shout words like “Score!” or “Fail!” but that’s pop culture, not reality.
Acceptance doesn’t mean you win, rejection doesn’t mean you lose. Acceptance doesn’t mean Good. Rejection doesn’t mean Bad. Those words are subjective. Like pantyhose.
You may temporarily *feel* good or bad, but feelings are just that: temporary. They’re not exactly the most accurate way of divining reality. Don’t believe me? Go buy yesterday’s lotto ticket and choose numbers by feeling. When you win a bajillion dollars, I’ll eat my words…and maybe a cookie.
Lie # 2. Rejection Means…More Rejection.
Nope. Rejection isn’t indicative of more rejection. You know what’s indicative of rejection?
Yep, unless you’re a ghost perusing these pixels, you’re signed up for your share of rejection. Maybe a little more. We all are. It’s okay. It’s only practical. Neither you nor I are All Things To All People. This article may not be for you. This whole column may not be for you. It’s okay. But it will be great for *someone.* You are, too.
We take one rejection (or one hundred) to be indicative of our fate. It’s not. Many of the great pieces of art, music, movies, books that have ever passed in front of your eyes have first been repeatedly rejected.
And, in all probability, they were repeatedly rejected by a lot of people who may or may not be kicking themselves over it.
Now, there are lessons to be learned. For instance, romance. Maybe you’ve spent a lot of time at bars or clubs looking to strike something up with some Fantastic Cookie only nothing pans out. It is likely time to reject searching for the thing you want at clubs. Look elsewhere, target your search.
In my experience, looking for romance at a club or bar is like looking for nutrition from Devil’s Food Cake. You can get it, but it comes surrounded by diabetes.
Lie #3. Last Chance For Love
Now I got that song stuck in my head. Go ahead, Donna!
Anyway…where were we? Oh, yes. There’s another feeling that comes around. We fear we won’t have another opportunity if we don’t get THIS person. THIS job.
This is the worst. Mostly because fear of the future causes you to make bad choices in the present. Many times I failed to reject a relationship that I should have because I was afraid that there wouldn’t be a chance for something better. So I stayed in relationships that were abusive. I committed to empty relationships, because I thought this was the best I could do.
And here’s the thing, I was really convinced this was logical. I had lots of great reasons to Stay as far as I was concerned. The real basis of that logic was my fear of future rejection.
After my marriage crumbled like the dry cookie it was, I started dating again. I met someone really cool. Even better, he thought I was really cool, too. I became obsessed with the relationship, trying to figure out how to nail it down and make sure it stayed in my life.
This guy was unlike anyone I’d ever met, and he still is a good friend of mine to this day. After such a tough marriage, I knew the value of meeting someone I found so stimulating. I was afraid I wouldn’t meet anyone nearly as sparkly as this guy.
I was so busy hanging on to this cool thing that I didn’t realize I had nowhere to put it. As cool as he was, his lifestyle and my lifestyle, were too similar. It couldn’t really work with the deep relating I wanted to do. But I *really* thought I’d never meet anyone as cool.
I was wrong. And that guy IS cool, but so is my partner and so are so many other people I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know since then. And, what’s more, the other people I’ve met, and the one I’m with, have had a lot more relevance to the way I want to relate.
It turns out, I was wrong every single time I thought it was the last chance, last dance for love. How’s that for lottery? I underestimated my ability to connect. And I underestimated just how many millions of cool people there are out there.
It’s sort of like the universe.
Can you get your head around just how big the universe really is? Probably not. Not really. What you can probably get your head around is that it’s mind-bogglingly big. And yet, unless you’re an astro-physicist, you spend your day to day life working in a small universe: the Universe of your day to day life.
Let’s go one step further because this is, after all, what we do here. Now, imagine you have never imagined just how big the universe is. Imagine you’d never spent any time thinking about the implications of how far away the stars are. I bet you, you would never work for NASA or visit the space station.
Inversely, every single person who’s ever played in the depth of the Universe, has imagined just how big it is. In fact, they’ve spent a LOT of time imagining the size and the implications of that size.
The doorway to a world of Limitless Opportunity IS the realization that you live in a world that is actually Limitless. Your love life. Your career. Your emotional life.
You can’t get anywhere unless you first pass through that threshold of glimpsing its Bigness. No one becomes Neil DeGrasse Tyson without first imagining how big the Universe really is.
The Power of the Next Opportunity is in you.
Lie #4. You Not Want Me. You Bad Person.
Ahhhh, humanity. So amazing, so inspiring, so…petty. 🙂
Here’s the other side of the rejection equation; the idea that someone rejects you because something is wrong with them. Because something is wrong with anyone at all. It never ceases to amaze me just how prevalent this preschool mentality actually is. And how much it goes unchecked in our society.
You not want me? I punish Yooooooouuuuuuuuu.
Let’s say there is something actually wrong with that person you thought you wanted. Let’s say they’re an axe murderer. Aren’t you *glad* they rejected you? I mean, they just saved you from becoming a bad headline. I’d say you were lucky.
And if they truly are a person with a beastly vibe and you really wanted to be with them, what does that say about you????
Sure, maybe you were naive, or you were having a hard time. Okay. But you only get one or two of those excuses and after that, it’s YOU.
What if they’re not a beastly person? What if they’re just plain swell but can’t handle your carbs right now? That makes you the kind of person who punishes good people for making sincere choices. Is that the kind of world you want to live in?
Do *you* want to be a demon for rejecting someone that just isn’t right for you? You reject people and opportunities all the time, sometimes without even knowing it. Does this make you The Worst Person Ever? No.
Very often our demonization of another person is an sign of immaturity. We see the world in preschool terms. Preschoolers aren’t exactly the best interpreters of reality. (One of my preschoolers was convinced that the Easter Bunny at the mall EATS people because of the size of its teeth…which may be true, but anyway.)
But what if seeing the other person as the Root Of All Evil makes you feel better? I getcha. I hear ya. So long as you don’t actually believe that. It’s good for a night of sangria, chick flicks, and popcorn so long as it stays there.
When you allow yourself to see the world like that, you’re investing in becoming delusional. You are popping quarters into that little piggy bank one at a time. Once you become delusional, it undermines the happiness and stability in your life. You stir up your own private whirlpool of Unhappy that you bought courtesy of spite.
Long story short, rejection is part of life. It can be positive. When I think of all the relationships that didn’t pan out, I’m so very glad. Not only because I would have missed out on what I have now. I would have missed the awesome relationship I developed with myself just getting here.
If you’re dealing with rejection of any sort while you read this I hope you’ve enjoyed these cookies. Here’s a ((hug)). Let’s move forward into the big Universe where cookies abound and aren’t Four Dollars.
The World’s in front of you. And that’s the truth.
The Sugar Queen