I’m afraid to admit it, but this occasionally has been a theme in my life recently. A sense that no matter how great one area of my life is, almost immediately another one starts to majorly suck. My relationships dramatically changed over the past 12 months, with the majority of the closest people to me having moved miles away. At the same time, I completed what has been a life-changing course in teaching yoga. My finances have gone down the drain. I’m experiencing so much love on so many levels. And while I am doing some of the most rewarding work I have ever done, I am also experiencing major confusion and uncertainty in my professional life. Talk about extremes…
Why is it that the moment we become settled, or achieve something amazing, we start noticing other limitations? And why can’t we catch a break? Why is there always a dark cloud?
Sometimes rejection and loss feel like a slap in the face. Like a punch in the stomach. And that can be a hard, hard punch. Especially when you’ve worked your *ss off trying to achieve that goal, that next step, that job, that house, that posture, that connection, that relationship. Or maybe when you are happy, floating on, all zen-like, and suddenly BAM, life pricks your dream balloon and you land face down on concrete reality.
I had a moment like that yesterday. And it sucked. Really, really sucked. And you know what I did? I felt sorry for myself. Immediately, my negative chatter did not disappoint me. Self pity, jealousy, anger, all hit me at once. Awesome way to feel on a Tuesday afternoon, don’t you think? On my way home, I was on my bicycle and I had to stop at my local supermarket to get some ingredients for dinner. I saw myself going in, all bitter and zombie-like, desperately trying to find a way to stop me feeling rejected. Using food (probably chocolate). And thought-blocking, obsessive, series-watching. And picking a fight with my man at home. And going to bed, dissatisfied, full and empty at the same time. Still rejected.
So I made a choice. I made a massive salad. And a herbal tea. And I came home and reached out. I told my story. I read my book. I listened to music that fed my soul. I ate some dark chocolate (a small amount, which I am not ashamed to share). I stopped and slowed down. Not easy – but essential. What we know, but don’t always realise, is that there is always a choice to be made. Life does not simply happen to us. Sure, things happen that we can’t predict or control. But we need to recognise our part in the story. How we react is key. This might seem obvious to some of us, but not in practice.
So, what can you do when you are faced with rejection?
1. Feel the feelings
Let the feeling be there. What is it? Disappointment? Fear? Resentment? Sadness? Whatever it is, allow it to come in, to be there. Fighting it will only make it stronger. Feelings can be hard to get used to, but are there to teach us something. Name it. Put it on paper. Don’t fear it. What is it here to tell you?
Just a little warning – you will want to skip this step. I know, believe me. Who wants to feel the feeling, right? It sucks enough as it is, why would you need to spend time feeling it?! Well, trust me, you have a whole lot to learn from this process. And to learn, you need to know what you’re dealing with. Not everyone feels the same way about rejection – so explore YOUR reaction.
And another little warning – you will want to judge yourself. A LOT. This might all seem a little bit weird. Sure, I get it. But maybe you can allow yourself to dial down the cynicism for a moment and see what would happen if you followed these steps. How would you feel? What would you learn? Have a go. Go on.
2. Ask yourself, “What do I need right now?”
What do you really, really need? Pause, listen, reflect. What do you need to do to support yourself right now? To support you in regaining your confidence, your will power, your sense of balance. We get stuck in these unhelpful patterns and we act based on how we feel. We act on autopilot. But when we feel crap, we will no doubt make crap decisions. We form habits that are temporary fixes, but find that instead of helping us get over what is going on, they take us deeper and deeper into that hole.
Really spend time on this one. Divide your needs into categories to address YOU as a whole. Maybe you need to have a delicious, nutritious meal, go for a walk, have a bath, write in your journal, listen to your favourite song and sing off key. Maybe you need to cry, jump, run, dance, see your friends. Meditate. Do yoga. Smile. Whatever it is, identify it and go DO IT.
3. Resist impulsive decisions
Often, when we get disappointed, especially when there is a bump on the road to something we’ve been working hard towards, we have a jerk reaction of giving up. Of changing direction. And we can come up with various, very good reasons, why our original plan was actually flawed. And sometimes we might be right. We desperately start looking for THE alternative that will change our lives (and will make the rejection disappear). More often than not however, all we do is exhaust ourselves in the process, create further confusion and return to feeling sorry for ourselves.
Take a break. Give yourself time away from your goal. You can return to it soon enough. Go back to step 2 – give yourself what you need.
4. Take responsibility
This is a big one for me right now (I can feel a blog post coming out of this one soon…). Responsibility for myself and my life. When disappointment hits, we often place external blame, we compare ourselves to others. We move the focus outside of ourselves, when we should really be looking internally. It may seem irrational, but it is easier to keep complaining about our circumstances (money, time, opportunities, etc) and use those as reasons why we can’t reach our goals, than to change them.
Change will only happen once you realise who is responsible for creating that change. And it is not your partner, your parents, your boss, your best friend or your enemy. Nope. It is YOU and only you who can change your situation. Sure, others can help or get in the way. So can life. But once you recognise that you are the only one who can shift things, your life starts to reflect that. Things start to flow. Opportunities appear, because you make choices that reflect that responsibility. Your confidence increases because you act in way to support yourself. You are the student and the teacher.
5. Let go
I’m a big believer in manifestation. I believe that our intentions affect where our energy goes and we attract the energies that we project. Which is why, in my recent experience of rejection, I was shocked to my core. But how can it be? I manifested, hard, over and over again! I fought negative energy. I used my mantras. I directed my energy to constructive outlets. Every time doubt knocked, I greeted it with a smiling picture of my crystal clear intention. I saw myself succeeding, happy. I felt the success. Did I not do it right? Oh, how much it sucked being rejected…
The thing is, life is life (resist the song reference here). It has its own way of flowing and no matter how much we fight, how positive we are, how determined and persistent we become, sometimes things will simply not work the way we want them to. Maybe that is for the best. Maybe it is to direct us towards something better. Maybe it is simply to teach us to deal with rejection. Or to help us develop further awareness of ourselves.
Life is a balance of holding on & letting go – Rumi.
Either way, allow a little space for flexibility. Work hard, have a vision, but don’t get attached to the end result. You gain so much more from the journey and the work you do to get there, that sometimes the end result is actually not the end at all. And that is so beautiful, so exciting. Let go of the expectation of what it will look like. Scary, but so worth it.
Tip: Meditation really helps with letting go and allowing yourself to go with the flow. Sit down in silence, follow your breath and notice how many thoughts appear. How you will want to solve, plan, control and change everything. You will get caught between your thoughts and fighting them away. In reality, what meditation has taught me is that all we have is the present moment (I forget this all the time, which is why I need to keep meditating!). Let go of everything else for a few minutes every day, and you will notice it is easier to show up in your life the rest of the time.
My hope is that this post has got you thinking about your own reaction to rejection and disappointment. How do you deal with life’s surprises? Any tips, ideas or insights you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you.
Image credit: Unsplash