When we feel accepted by a social group, our colleagues, or a romantic interest, it feels so incredibly wonderful, right? How about when one of our ideas is looked upon favorably or when others express appreciation for our work or art—we’re beaming with pride and smiling wide, right? Feeling accepted, having a great sense of belonging, is one of our most basic human desires. It makes us feel safe, valued, and loved.
Rejection, on the other hand, can feel pretty awful, even depressing sometimes. When we experience rejection, our mind has a tendency to get caught up in the fear that we will be alone in the world or that we’re somehow not good enough, that there must be something “wrong” with us. These fears—these untrue stories that the mind is telling us—shake our confidence, drain our energy for the day and life, affect our relationships everywhere, and actually stop us from sharing ideas or taking chances…but only if we permit them to. Remember, WE have a choice in how we act in every situation.
Dealing with rejection begins with self-acceptance.
When I was in treatment for my bulimia in 1984, I told my therapist that someone in the group didn’t like me. She said, “Barb, do you like and accept everyone and everything that other people say and do?” I responded, “Of course not.” Then she asked me, “Why do you expect everyone to like and accept you and your actions and thoughts?” I stopped cold and was speechless. This lit a light of awareness in me that has been shining for thirty years!
When you firmly believe in yourself and what you have to offer, the sting of rejection is lessened because you are also allowing others to be who they are. You understand that not everyone thinks the way you do, and while you may be disappointed or dejected, you are able to reflect on it, learn from it, and let it go.
Self-acceptance isn’t something you turn on and off. You cultivate genuine self-acceptance by having a daily practice of meditation and focused attention on the moment, giving you an inner life that is as real and rich as the outer life you live. With this inner practice, you develop your intuition and learn to listen to the “whisperings of your heart.” You know who you are, and you feel strong, capable, and loving. All of your works in the world come from deep within, and you are confident that you have done your best, that you have been your best in the moment. And you are ready to let others be who they are without the need to change them. You accept yourself, so you accept others!
Self-acceptance begins with consistent practice.
Without consciously tapping into our inner source of strength, confidence, and courage, rejection from others can quickly transform into self-rejection. This type of rejection can be much more difficult to grapple with, and it is often what keeps us from being able to let it go and move on.
In my book The Practice, I share a three-part daily guide showing us the way to live from that deep place inside where we know in our heart we are okay despite what happens in the outside world and no matter what other people say, think, or do. I suggest beginning each day with a morning meditation, followed by focused attention throughout our daily activities, and end with a few minutes of reflection before going to bed.
Self-confidence is knowing you’ve done your best.
When what you say and do throughout the day is consistent with your heart’s desire, your self-confidence increases and strengthens. You have a deep knowing that you are okay no matter what. If you are rejected along the way, it is not going to stop you from being who you are because you will know that you have done your best—in that moment on that day. Of course rejection will still be painful or disappointing. It may also offer a valuable lesson to be reflected upon or an opportunity for reassessing a situation or approach, if necessary, to achieve the goals that are in alignment with your heart’s desire.
If you would like to know more about The Practice, click here. If you have methods for dealing with rejection and practicing self-acceptance, I’d love to hear them! Please share them below.