Image courtesy of Lucie Stastkova
Rejection comes in many forms, from many places, and is very painful. What makes rejection so devastating? What causes us to react in a particular way? How can we use rejection to our advantage?
On a purely instinctual level, rejection threatens to extinguish our life force by depriving us of vital nourishment. No being can truly thrive without some measure of love and acceptance.
Rejection devastates when we attach our personal worth to someone or something outside of ourselves. Feeling worthy only when liked and accepted by those with whom we engage sets the stage for rejection.
When feeling disliked or ignored by another, it’s wise to step back and view that person’s behavior as a mirror our own subconscious. Often the things we don’t like in ourselves are reflected back to us by others, giving us an opportunity to examine what prompts us to react and how we might change. This not only buffers the impact, but also opens the door to personal growth. Becoming the witness rather than the recipient allows us to determine if our behavior rather than our essence is being rejected, or if the other person’s bias in play, and/or if we’re simply misreading all the cues.
In childhood, our behavior is largely determined by conditioning. When we incarnate, we become blank slates to be imprinted upon by everyone and everything around us. We react to external stimuli positively or negatively, based on whether our basic needs are met or neglected. As we mature, we learn that we have choices; choices including how we feel and whether we react to or act on those feelings.
The key to using rejection to our advantage lies in remaining objective. However, behaving as an unattached witness can be difficult when our impulse is either to strike or withdraw. If we recognize impulse as being instinctual – a reflex action rather than a thought process – then we’re taking a first step toward understanding our feelings and turning rejection into a positive learning experience.
When observing animals in the wild, it becomes clear that instinct is, in part, a survival mechanism. Although we humans don’t live in the wild, we find it impossible at times not to react. Generally speaking, however, our survival doesn’t depend on ‘fight or flee.’ Most often we have the advantage of time and space within which to consider our options and teach ourselves to behave differently. We are capable of changing our behavior and, quite possibly, our feelings. With a little practice, we can move ourselves to the threshold of choice: act or react. Success in achieving this pivots on focusing our intention.
Change occurs in three stages: (1) we witness our behavior after we’ve reacted; (2) we take note while we’re reacting; (3) we stop ourselves before we react. When we reach the final stage, our behavior reflects choice (act on) rather than reflex (react to). Since most change occurs over time, perseverance becomes vital to success. Yet once we’re rooted in firm resolve, observing ourselves can be fascinating.
In order to use rejection to our advantage – in order to grow from what would otherwise be a devastating experience – it’s imperative that we detach the measure of our self-worth from anything external and, instead, focus our attention inward. We start by witnessing, acknowledging, and owning our behavior; then we commit to changing the behavior and persist until we reach the level of choice; and finally, we consciously manifest the change.
Deciding not to change is also a valid choice. Either way, the key element lies in remaining objective and being our own best witness.
Emotions are raw and capable of consuming us. It’s important to recognize what we feel and what we do as mutually exclusive. Feeling rejected is arguably an instinctual response, while wallowing in rejection is a choice that wastes precious time and vital energy.
The line between feeling and wallowing is of the utmost importance. It’s on this line where we acknowledge, examine, and own all of who we are and how we behave. It’s where we give voice to what we feel and allow that voice to be heard by our body, mind, and spirit. It’s where we accept ourselves in totality and recognize self-acceptance as a vital element in the process of change. Without recognition, negative emotions infest our subconscious and compel us to wear a false face in the world, for we are controlled by that which we refuse to acknowledge.
Gratitude is equally as important as recognition and acknowledgement. Just as food sustains the body, raw emotions serve in sustaining our life force. Thanking them before letting go and moving on will put the subconscious at ease, discourage it from seeking a detrimental substitute, and encourage it to welcome and accept the changes we’ve worked so hard to make.
Even if we’re unable to change our raw emotions, we can change how we act on them. Owning all of our behavior and accepting ourselves completely makes it easier to view another’s behavior toward us as a mirror of our own subconscious.
What we think, we become. Raw emotions can become a force for positive change. Rejection can be experienced as a welcomed teacher. Energy follows thought …
Until the next time, my friends,