Let’s start here: rejection scares the hell out of most of us. Agreed? It’s what keeps us from going up to strangers and asking them out on a date. It’s what keeps us from going on stage and speaking publicly, for fear we’ll be boo’ed. And it keeps some of us from doing the things we love, for fear that we will be rejected by others who might be doing them better. But the worst kind of rejection is when we are rejected by whom we consider to be the most important person in our lives–our spouse, our partner, our love interest, our crush. Rejection from this person is the absolute worst, because let’s be honest, he or she is the one who defines and validates us and gives us our worth. When he reject us, we feel worthless. And this is where things go wrong. No one defines us. And no one validates our worth, except us.
But, back to rejection. It happens. And there’s virtually no way on earth to avoid it. So…how do we handle it?
For starters, we need to change our perception of what rejection logically, actually is, not what we “feel” it is. So, take the gut-wrenching, terrible, awful, dreadful, unbearable feelings you feel about rejection and switch over to using your brain. Are you in brain mode now? OK, read on…
1. Rejection is neither good nor bad. It’s neutral. And yet we typically assign it as something negative. But, just for argument’s sake, let’s start to look at it as a positive force in your life. First off, it won’t kill you. It’s not a disease which can make you ill. It doesn’t take any money, clothing, shelter or food away from you. It doesn’t physically beat you up. And it doesn’t change you in any way shape or form other than help redirect you towards a new life. It’s often disguised as a loss, only to, later down the road, be a gain, as most people will tell you. So, no matter how you “feel” about rejection’s evil powers, try to keep things a bit more clear. Rejection, is neutral. At best, it’s a positive force that pushes us to redefine our lives and move on. The more we stay focused on the neutrality or positivity of rejection, the better.
2. Rejection isn’t personal. This concept is tricky, and one that people have the hardest time understanding. Let me say it again: rejection is NOT PERSONAL. I’m sure you believe that if you were personally rejected on the grounds that your boyfriend doesn’t like you anymore and even left you for someone else, then this is personal. But it’s not! He’s not rejecting you as much as he is opting to choose another life for himself. She’s not rejecting you as much as she is selecting a different path to walk down. And while that may seem like rejection from your end, there’s actually a much deeper issue at hand. People come together, and ultimately move apart based on their set of Values. A value is a thing (a principle, a belief, a standard of behavior) that we regard as essential to our being, so essential, in fact, that without it, we feel lacking or wrong or worthless. It’s a MUST HAVE, not a want or a wish. And when you reject someone, or they reject you, it’s typically based on values, and not much else. When people’s values are not aligned, the healthy response is rejection of the relationship. This of course, doesn’t happen in unhealthy relationship for love addicts. Why? Because love addicts tend not to know their values, and because the idea of holding onto the relationship is far greater than any personal values. So, even if someone is completely wrong for a love addict, they will still stay–out of fear, desperation, loneliness, whatever. So, start to see rejection as a healthy thing, a gift the other person is giving you by setting you free to make another choice for yourself. Remember, no one validates you or defines who you are. Only you do. So, get cracking! Figure out who you are. The more you know you, the more you can find others like you, who are less likely to reject you, based on shared values.
3. Rejection is a huge part of nature. Animals select one mate over another based on instinct to help perpetuate their species. Animals don’t take rejection personally or cry if they weren’t selected by one over another. Instinctually, they know that rejection from one frees them up to make more natural selections with another. They don’t feel the pain of rejection because rejection is not painful. Remember number one? It’s neutral! To animals, it’s a signal to start looking elsewhere for a more appropriate mate.
When we think of our own bodies, think of all the things it rejects on its own. If you drink too much alcohol, say, or eat contaminated food, the body rejects these things by vomitting or getting sick. If we catch a virus or a bacterial infection, the body rejects these “bugs” by getting a fever. If we have a foreign object inside our bodies (like a cancerous tumor), the body uses all its resources to either get rid of it or protect against it by building a calcium encasement around it. A miscarriage is also nature’s way of rejecting a fetus that may not be able to sustain life outside the womb. Even when an apparent good thing enters our bodies– a flower, a diamond, a particularly beautiful object, a heart transplant, our bodies will have an extreme reaction to it and reject it because it doesn’t belong in our system.
When we think of rejection in this way, and remove the emotional, negative feelings we associate with rejection, it helps us to understand that rejection is not personal. It is simply nature’s way of redirecting you and letting you know that you do not fit in this particular person’s world–not because you are bad, no good, worthless, ugly or unlovable. It simply means you fit somewhere else. And that’s a good thing. Rejection is a gift that allows you to consider new options– a more natural, organic path that you are currently denying yourself, if you hang on.
Case in point: I dated a pretty nice guy. He was attracted to me; I was attracted to him. So, we tried to have a relationship, as is the natural course of attraction. But soon enough, after the initial high of us being together started to wear off, I started to notice his avoidance of me. Why was he rejecting me? I’m a great catch! 😉 To make a long story short, he started to feel uncomfortable with me. He was into smoking pot, and listening to the Dead, and I was so not into that stuff. He felt I had little respect for his lifestyle and in a way he was right. When he mentioned this, I actually tried to change, to be more open and understanding of his likes. I so desperately wanted the relationship to work that I was willing to become someone else! But it was only a matter of time before I started to feel uncomfortable and untrue to my nature. Even though we both wished it would work between us; even though we were both highly attracted to each other, our lifestyles and personalities, in the end, didn’t really mesh. No one did anything wrong. No one was worthless or unlovable. We simply were not meant for each other. Period. And yet, I still felt rejected until I was willing to accept that that’s what dating is all about. It’s a risk we take to decide whether we should remain with a person or move on. And it was clearly time to move on in this case.
You can think about it like this too: how many of you have had multiple relationships? How many times have you said, “This is the one!” only to find that someone better has come along? If you or your ex had not rejected the relationship, it would not have freed you up to be where you are today. Rejction is natural! Try to imagine yourself as a salesman. Even if you had the greatest product in the world, you still can’t convince every person on the planet to buy your product. No matter how great it is, not everyone will think so!
We don’t have that much control over who will like us and who won’t. We might find someone attractive, but they might not share the same feelings. We can’t take this personally! How many times has someone shown interest in you and you’ve turned them down? Maybe you didn’t find them attractive. Maybe you didn’t like their style or their personality. Just because you rejected them doesn’t mean they are unlovable or unattractive or worthless. The same logic applies to your situation.
Rejection is not something you can control. So, you might as well stop sweating the natural selection that is happening. What you can control, however, is how you perceive your self worth and whether or not you are selecting a mate who is more in line with who you are and what your values are. Are you kind, friendly, honest, loving? Are you family-oriented, or do you prefer hanging out in clubs every night? Do you believe in loyalty? Are you religious? What are your values? Now is the time to get to know yourself . The more you do, the better chance you have of finding someone less likely to reject you.
8 thoughts on “Rejection (psst…it’s a good thing!)”
Some times rejection will cause us to work all the harder the next time around.
This is a great post but I still can’t get over taking it personally when I get rejected. I constantly think someone else is “better” than me. If I was so great, why wouldn’t that person want to be with me? I guess this is something I need to work on.
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Thanks for posting, friends! Here are my thoughts:
This is why we date; to spend time with someone long enough so that we may determine if they are right for us. That takes a long time and yes, it does take some investment on BOTH sides. BUt with dating, there are NO GUARANTEES. That’s not what dating is about. And that’s oftentimes the trouble with love addiction. We want immediate guarantees and we make split second decisions without weighing the positives and negatives of a person. We think three months is enough time to fall in love and “commit” and it’s NOT. And we are with unhealthy people who want the same kind of immediate gratification. This is not to say that there aren’t love addicts out there that are cautious and choose selectively. But for the most part, our need for love and a relationship outweighs our need to make a good choice.
In order to forgive the fact that others have “rejected” us we need to accept that people have a right to freely choose the people they want in their lives AND they have the right to change their minds. We have to give people credit for knowing what they want. And we have to give people the benefit of the doubt when they decided to change what they want. We also need to try to understand that nothing is ever set in stone. People try to make promises, they have the best intentions, but they fail. When we recognize the human element of doing and deciding, rejection doesn’t feel so personal anymore. People do try to forge lasting relationships. They make promises. They have hope. But sometimes the relationship simply doesn’t work. Period.
We are allowed to change our minds about things. It’s part of life.
As for taking a relationship personal, yes! It is very personal, and when someone wants to leave the relationship it is because they don’t think it will work, with YOU, in particular. Sad to say. In that sense, it’s personal. But it’s NOT personal when we consider that they alone do not determine our value or worth. WHen I meet someone and we hang out and I get a sense that they don’t like me (and it happens all the time!) I do not take it personally because I know that everyone in the world, including me, has their own personal preference. When someone doesn’t like me, it’s never a reflection on how bad, or ugly or rotten I am. It is simply a reflection of the other person’s preference. Their preference in people has almost nothing to do with me! DO you see? You can apply this same logic to the person in your life who has rejected you for someone “better.” They didn’t reject you because you are worse. They chose someone else because they are trying to find someone more appropriate to their preference. Think of a celebrity. Who would you date and who wouldn’t you date? WOuld you date them ALL? Probably not. They are all fabulous people in their own right, but YOU have your own personal preference. This does not make them less important or “worse” of a person. It simply makes them not a good selection for you and your type.
If you learn one thing in recovery learn this: we are different with different people, and vice versa. WHen I was with my ex-H all I did was fight. He brought it out in me because of his inability to communicate like an adult. Well, I am not a fighter, and so my later relationships were all calm. Now, I am in a relationship with a man whom I get along with very well. We rarely fight. I’m still the same girl! But I am different with different people. We may reject others on our own personal preferences, but it is never personal to the person being rejected.
Hope this helps!
Great post, loved it all, but then I have to move back as usual to ‘the avoider’ section of your sight (which when you are a love addict in recovery or not, is always, always useful to read as most of the rejection comes from the avoidant.) Does this count as sheer rejection if it comes from an avoider? or is it just their way of relating, as we all know it is. I think therefore, that average rejection doesn’t apply in that sense as it would for a ‘normal’ relationship. As we all know so well, rejection is the biggest dynamic of the avoider, and boy, don’t they know how to use it….our next step is to ‘recognise’ this tactic and not even see it as rejection at all, because it isn’t. Its just their messed up way of relating. To keep you hooked, to keep you dangling. to test you. Anyone reading this post cannot understand it unless they go on to visit the posts on avoidance. The very lovely addict taught me well, this way….x
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this is great! Brilliantly written and really relatable!
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As someone whose addiction has its roots in fear or rejection and the past fruitless pursuit of self-worth through other people, I greatly appreciate this post.
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