Rejection pierces our heart.
When someone criticizes or shuns us, we can feel insignificant, worthless and unlovable.
Our desire for acceptance and approval is at the core of all rejection. We want to believe that people like us, enjoy our company, and even prefer our friendship over others.
When someone rebuffs or mistreats us, we create negative feelings about ourselves and we label ourselves as unimportant and undeserving.
Your co-workers met for happy hour and they didn’t invite you. Your boyfriend or husband criticized and neglected you. Or your girlfriend ditched you to go out with a man. You go out with man, have a great time and he never calls you back. You post your vacation snapshots on Facebook and no one gives you a thumbs up.
Sadly, you feel like you’re not good enough and others dislike you.
We let someone’s negative attitude define us and we mistakenly assume that their opinion is also the opinion of others.
Someone’s disapproval may not be about you, but about their negative mindset and attitudes.
Girlfriend, tattoo this on your forehead! IT’S NOT YOU!
Don’t take it personally. It’s their problem; not yours.
When you embrace someone’s rejection (be it real or imagined), you create a spiral of negative emotions and behaviors.
- Rejection inspires irrational, self-deprecating thoughts.
- Self-deprecating thoughts create negative behavior.
- Negative behavior produces someone’s disapproval and more rejection.
- More rejection induces self-condemnation and self-hate.
- Self-hate causes us to act out harmful behavior.
And the cycle perpetuates itself.
In my past life, I was hyper-sensitive to someone’s condescending remarks and inconsiderate behavior. The slightest unkind word or discourteous action would crush my spirit.
The anecdotes below are just a few examples of how someone else’s inconsiderate behavior can create a spiral of negative emotions.
Note: The names have been changed to protect the guilty, inconsiderate women.
Rhonda was going through a nasty divorce. She gravitated to me for consoling advice. I liked Rhonda and I valued a new friendship with her. She texted me New Year’s Eve day, saying she was having a hard time being alone during the holidays and she asked me to meet her for 4 o’clock cocktails.
I was looking forward to enjoying a wintry evening, curled up on the sofa with crab cakes and a glass of Prosecco, but instead, I took an hour to get dressed to be with a friend who needed me.
Rhonda then texted me at 3 o’clock, telling me a girlfriend had asked her to meet for cocktails (saying her friend was having a bad day). She invited me to join them at a restaurant 30 minutes away. I texted Ronda, saying I couldn’t get there at three, but I would meet her at our designated time at four. Rhonda said she probably wouldn’t have time to meet me at four.
What the crap! I changed my plans to accommodate her.
My third husband (yes, 1, 2, 3) pursued me like I was the last breathing woman on Earth. He made me feel adored, special and secure in our relationship. After we married, he shut me out of his life and he ignored my emotional and physical needs. I insisted that he communicate with me and work on our marriage. He decided it was too much work. Two years after we married, he moved to Florida to live alone.
I was devastated. It was my third marriage and it was extremely important to me to have a loving and lasting relationship. I knew his extreme passive-aggressive behavior destroyed our relationship, and yet I felt like there was something inherently wrong with me. I felt like a failure in life, and I felt unattractive, undesirable and unlovable.
So, I left my husband eating my pink dust.
I moved to Nashville. Shannon and I quickly became close friends. Shannon was attractive, engaging and witty. When we sat at a restaurant bar or table, she always made sure she had the advantage seat. Time and time again, she asked me to give up my bar stool so she could sit between me and a girlfriend.
Shannon exploded at me one happy hour evening because I couldn’t save her a bar stool in a jam-packed restaurant. Her indignation knocked me backwards. A bar stool soon opened beside me and Shannon asked me to change seats with her so she could sit between me and our girlfriend—and then she turned her back to me the entire evening while cheerfully talking with our friend.
When someone rejects you, you may erroneously assume that their opinion is also the opinion of others.
I was new to this small circle of Nashville friends and I depended on Shannon for invitations to parties, events and happy hour.
Shannon stop inviting me to her get-togethers and she declined my invitations. I saw Facebook posts of her and her friends meeting at happy hour and having fun together. Her Facebook posts intensified my feelings of rejection. I imagined that Shannon was dissing me to her friends and that her disapproval of me was also her friends’ disapproval.
My self-esteem took a nosedive and I slipped into a black hole of rejection.
It took a lifetime for me to work through my low self-esteem issues. It took Shannon 30 seconds to resurrect my self-doubt and insecurities.
My negative inner voice seized the opportunity to accuse and condemn me. She told me I was outspoken and boisterous and that my over-the-top personality put people off. I ceased feeling confident and affable. I felt like no one liked me and I hung my head in humiliation, hoping it would all blow over.
It’s not you!
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt
When someone says or does something that is unkind and rejecting, it is most likely not about you, but about their mindset and attitudes. Who you are and what you offer doesn’t meet their expectations or their requirements.
Shannon’s lack of self-esteem and self-absorbed personality fueled her need to be the center of attention and control the conversation. When she could no longer manipulate me, my friendship was no longer of value to her.
My ex-husband was innately an emotionally detached man. He tried his damnedest to convince me that my need for his honesty, communication and orderliness around the house was the ice pick in our relationship. I eventually realized that he had duplicated the marriage he had with his previous wife, living as roommates, void of emotions, love and sex.
Rhonda had stronger emotional ties with a longtime friend. She shortchanged me (consciously or unconsciously) so she could meet her BFF for a drink.
I chose to believe that Rhonda’s behavior was an unintentional social faux pas and I privately forgave her.
Next, I divorced my husband and I went on to write my fourth self-help book.
I deleted Shannon from my Facebook friends and iPhone contacts and I excluded her from my happy hour get-togethers, parties and events.
When I thought no one loved me, my son living in another state called to tell me about his new car. My girlfriend and her husband invited me to join them for cocktails. My cowboy friend invited me to a fabulous day-trip trail ride with his friends. And I received a letter from girlfriend who had horribly wronged me, wanting to reconcile our friendship.