Sometimes life can slap the shit out of you. I hate to admit it but this has seemed to be the theme of 2020 for many, but how do you take this and turn it into lessons and a positive?
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 a certain goal, that next step, that job, that house, that connection, that relationship, expectations for your kids…. 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 the concrete of reality. GET UP! BRUSH YOURSELF OFF!
I had a moment like this recently. 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 Monday afternoon, don’t you think? I was all bitter and zombie-like, desperately trying to find a way to stop the feeling of hurt. Desperately trying to find the why, how and the what the hell? It hurt!
So, what can you do when you are faced with rejection, a loss, a heartbreak, shattered dream or just life hitting you in the face?
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. Also own and understand when you are not proud of 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 favorite 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. I just took off and went to the beach for a week. I needed to walk, reset, think and truly connect with myself and frankly my hurt. My hurt wasn’t just from rejection, but from a moms heart watching a son battle something no mother wants her son to battle….
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. 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 recognize 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. Each mistake teaches us something new.
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.
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.
Becky Shaffer—-Adolescent/Adult Life Coach—-Author—-Educator
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