“I know that when a door closes, it can feel like all doors are closing. A rejection letter can feel like everyone will reject us. But a closed door leads to clarity. It’s really an arrow. Because we cannot go through that door, we will go somewhere else. That somewhere else is your true life.” –Tama Kieves
Rejection might well be the source of our greatest fear and anguish and for good reason. Looking back at our tribal origins, rejection is imprinted in us as a matter of life and death. We humans were never meant to live alone; we are herd animals. I learned again last week just how deeply this lineage of rejection runs in me when I was “un-invited” to a small business group. Never mind that I wasn’t sold on the idea of joining this group from the beginning or even after the first meeting walked away doubting my decision to participate; still the call of rejection stung deep and left circles of reactivity around me for days.
Inevitably, with rejection comes judgment. And in this capacity, all rejections whether from a lover, a friend or a business consultant carry the same meaning. We are judged unworthy, unlovable and on some level, beyond the effort to be redeemed. As I struggled in the following days to maintain a boundary around my personal sense of self and to make sense of the hurtful comments about how I was perceived in the world, what I was most conscious of was the effort that it took to not reject myself. I have spent enough time with the dark voice inside that too willingly agrees with my critics. I know how the dangerous poison of self-rejection can generate feelings of unworthiness so powerful that I forget myself, I question my beliefs and feel ashamed of the space I occupy. Outer rejections can easily ignite this slippery slope that lays dormant in all of us.
This is the real work; this holding onto ourselves and what we know is true about our own loveliness. It is in the moments of adversity and challenge that we most clearly see our progress or lack of it. I was so gratified to learn that all of these last years of practicing positivity paid off and provided me a true refuge and space to find my way back into my own heart. Learning the skills of quieting my mind, of trusting my own voice of self compassion and knowing that the truth of my life was defined inside of me gave me a true perspective on the rejection coming from outside.
Another very beautiful benefit of forgoing self rejection at the moments when life give us the bait to reject ourselves is that we tap into our ability to heal the past in the present. Each time we hold onto our selves instead of sliding into self-rejection, we melt the ghost of past rejections that collect in our psyche. Each time we refuse to reject ourselves we move closer to a spiritual life that allows us to receive the love that we are. Rejection will always hurt, but it doesn’t have to be life or death. Henri Nouwen wrote: “Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved.” Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.”