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Turning Rejection into Resilience: Your Path to Emotional Strength

Rejection is a common aspect of life, but it can be a powerful catalyst for growth if you learn to harness its potential.




Experiencing rejection is something that everyone will face many times throughout their life. It can take place within your family, social interactions, work environment or even religious institutions.


There's simply no way to go through life without encountering both acceptance and rejection, and people either appreciating or disapproving of what you do or say. This, of course, is the result of whether what you do and/or say either supports (resulting in acceptance) or challenges (resulting in rejection) their individual values.


In society, people have diverse value systems that are sometimes even complete opposites. For example, there are those who are pro-life or pro-abortion, pro-democratic or anti-democratic, pro-capitalism or anti-capitalism, pro-gun or anti-gun, to name just a few.


Because of the variety of value systems, as you journey through life, you'll likely find that some people appreciate what you're doing while others disagree, some accept and others reject, some like and others dislike, some support and others challenge, and some praise and others reprimand.


If you are addicted to seeking constant approval and praise, criticism and rejection can become incredibly painful.


The fear of rejection in social interactions often stems from placing individuals on pedestals, giving power to them and their opinions, and valuing their opinions over your own. This is an imbalanced perception that often results in the fear of loss of that exaggerated individual. This fear of rejection is valuable feedback to let you know that you have a fantasy about the individual, which is why you likely value their opinion more highly than your own. If you take the time and do the work to balance your perceptions of that individual, you are more able to address their opinions without fear. No one is worth putting on a pedestal. Do not be fooled by outer facades.

 

You may also have unrealistic expectations that if you are somehow “good” enough, you will never experience rejection. This is a fantasy that you are not going to achieve and one that would be wise to dissolve.


It is a futile exercise trying to achieve a one-sided life, one where you experience only praise and no criticism, only acceptance and never rejection. It is pointless to try to create a one-sided individual, one-sided relationship, or a one-sided life.

 

Yet, so many people spend their lives trying to achieve the unachievable, by expecting others to be one-sided (nice never mean, supportive never challenging, accepting never rejecting) and they also expect the same of themselves as they try to rid themselves of traits they perceive to be “negative” and keep only those they perceive as being “positive”.

Having an expectation in life with an understanding there will be both acceptance and rejection, embracing both poles objectively and in balance prepares you for a less volatile and more meaningful life.

 

However, expecting life to predominantly lean one way or the other can lead to sacrificing your authenticity and identity just to fit in with everyone, to be accepted, included, part of the ‘in crowd’, which is neither sustainable long-term nor the wisest way to live. The incongruency of living a life that is not an authentic representation of your true nature has its costs. To subordinate to another’s values so as to be accepted will always come with a self-depreciating consequence.

 

No matter what you do, you'll be both liked and disliked. You will meet people with similar values and different values, and likely find that some will be supportive while others are challenging. It is not possible to avoid rejection.


So how do we handle rejection?


 

1.      The Foundation for Resilience - our values

 

The foundation for powerful and effective strategies to manage rejection is to identify your highest values.

 

Living congruently with your highest values, the actions that are most important and highest in priority, makes your blood, glucose, and oxygen flow into the forebrain, the executive center, the medial prefrontal cortex in your brain, which becomes activated. In this state, you tend to be the most objective, striking a balance between your expectations and actions.


You also tend to become more resilient and adaptable. In this state of balance, you are less likely to experience the fear of losing what you seek or gaining what you're trying to avoid; you simply remain present. Being focussed on your chief aim overrides the distractions of other individual’s opinions of rejection or acceptance. When you prioritize your values, rejection tends to lose its power to deter you, and you are more likely to gain self-confidence.


However, if your day isn't filled with high-priority actions and you allow others' values and expectations to come into your life, you are more likely to become a people pleaser. In doing so, you may cloud the clarity of your own mission - the thing that is most important to you. Instead, you may find yourself doing what you perceive others expect of you, seeking acceptance and praise, spreading yourself thin which often results in emotional exhaustion, fatigue, self-judgement, and decreased self-worth.


When you ignore your highest values and engage in lower-priority activities, you will tend to feel unfulfilled, distracted, and frustrated. You may then find yourself constantly putting out fires, reacting to what you perceive others would like you to do, and live a life where you are driven by duty rather than design.

 

In these instances, your blood, glucose, and oxygen flow to the lower brain amygdala. This area is an emotional reaction center, where the desire to instinctually avoid pain, impulsively seek pleasure, avoid predators, seek prey, avoid challenges, seek support, avoid criticism, and seek praise takes hold.

 

When your amygdala is activated and lights up you are far more likely to crave pride, validation, rewards, praise, and support. The more you become addicted to these, the more painful rejection tends to become.


When you are living congruently with your highest values your executive center is activated, and you are less likely to crave pride, validation, rewards, praise, and support. Rejection and acceptance have less meaning.


So, the more you crave praise, the more painful criticism feels, and the more you crave support, the more challenging situations can become.


If you are not actively embracing equally both acceptance and rejection, aware that people will like and dislike what you do, you might find yourself trapped in a cycle of self-pity, trauma, co-dependency, drama, and a disheartened state of mind.


2.     The upside of rejection


The beauty of rejection is that it can foster independence; when you face challenges and rejection, you tend to become intelligently independent and think autonomously.

Many people aspire to make a difference in life, and you don't achieve that by blending in. Instead, you make a difference by standing out. It's often the challengers, the critics, and the rejectors who help you become more autonomous, authentic, creative, and solution-oriented.


If you receive nothing but support, you may become overly dependent on that person. On the other hand, if you face nothing but challenges, you may become overly independent. Yet, when you strike a balance between support and challenge, you pursue a path of growth, where maximum development occurs.


The sweet spot for growth is at the intersection of support and challenge, acceptance and rejection. Both aspects - those that build you and those that challenge you - are vital for transformation, personal growth and your evolution.


Through rejection and challenges, you can also learn how to communicate effectively with individuals who hold a variety of values. This includes understanding that there is no need to change them or try to inject your values into their lives, but that you can communicate what you value effectively within the context of their values. This is more likely to happen should you choose to calm the impact of rejection and use it to your advantage.


By answering the question, "How does this challenging criticism or rejection serve me specifically?" you will realise that rejection opens doors, streamlines your communication, prioritises your life, and nurtures your independence, making you less dependent and obligated.


Simultaneously, it can help you become more authentically you. When challenges question your values and push you, you tend to ascend your hierarchy of values. In contrast, support often leads you to descend, sacrificing what's important to you to fit into others' values for fear of losing their support.


If you think about it, rejection can actually encourage you to go up on your hierarchy of values, reinforcing and strengthening your authentic self. This process tends to make you more resilient and adaptable because living congruently with your highest values enhances your objectivity and executive functioning.


So, paradoxically, it's the challengers and the rejection you encounter that can also truly facilitate growth.

 

Additionally, due to the Laws of Conservation and Contrast, at the very moment someone rejects you, you'll discover that simultaneously, someone else is welcoming and accepting you - either in reality, or virtually in your mind; you will never have the perception of rejection without the balancing perception of acceptance. It is wise to take the time to bring the subconscious information of acceptance into full consciousness, to embrace both aspects of the polarity, and reintegrate the rejected/accepted split in the mind.  You will never experience rejection without the counterbalancing experience of acceptance, but through our selective bias we are blind to one side.

 

As long as you view rejection as solely negative without acknowledging its positive aspects, you're likely to carry a wound in your subconscious mind. Anything that reminds you of that wound may trigger anxiety. However, if you can see how rejection serves you and cultivates resourcefulness -returning to the source of your energy - you can find inspiration in it.


Rejection is a common aspect of life, but it can be a powerful catalyst for growth if you learn to harness its potential.


It is simply part of the journey, and how you handle it depends on your perception. If you view rejection as a roadblock, it will hold you back. However, if you see rejection as a stepping stone, a chance to strengthen yourself, rejection can become a valuable gift.


If you would like help in balancing your emotions and revealing the profound gifts you have received through your experiences of rejection, if you would love past perceived hurts to not be running your life and future, or if you would love to not feel dependent on external validation for your emotional stability,  please reach out and contact me here

 



 




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