By Valerie Cade CSP | November 30, 2011
Being picked last for the team, not being able to find a room-mate in college, being left off of a party list, not being asked your opinion while others can speak freely are just some examples of ‘rejection’ experienced by almost everyone. Being rejected repeatedly by the same person is a form of workplace bullying and it hurts. The question is how can you move on from the horrible emotional feeling of rejection and gain back the joyful existence you once had?
Why Do We Feel Rejected?
Feeling rejected is based on the target’s perception. One cannot argue with feelings. One aspect is our ability to handle rejection: Those who had secure attachments earlier in life often have a higher resiliency to handle rejection than do others. Who tends to reject us is another factor. If it is a transactional rejection such as a clerk in a store, admitting nurse or police officer whom we might only see once, we are apt to shoulder it a little easier than when faced with rejection from one’s primal or social community. The rejection could stem back to early childhood, even the womb. Suffering rejection from our community gives us a ‘loose filter’ at best. We may feel the effects as deep wounds or we’ll react to the slightest of rejections with more intensity.
Why would someone reject us? There are two perspectives to consider:
1. Someone is unaware of causing you to feel rejected. You have an expectation of someone, yet they are unaware of it. You decide it is rejection because you think ‘they should know better’. Consider these situations:
- You volunteered for a whole year on a conference and the National President didn’t even thank you when they saw you. You felt rejected and hurt. After all, look at all the work you did. (This situation actually happened – I was the President. I do like to honor people; I had so much on my mind that I had a ‘blind spot’ and was didn’t realize that I had not acknowleged the contribution. This particular individual told me three years later and I was so sorry I ‘missed that one’).
- Your boss never quite says “Great job.” Maybe they’ve never been told ‘great job’. A pattern such as this can start in childhood.
2. Someone is aware of wanting you to feel rejected. They do understand what they are doing and how it will make you feel. This rejection, happening over and over again, is bullying. Remember, someone rejecting you is about them rejecting themselves. It is a projection of their own hurt. Here are some ways in which you may experience ‘rejection’ from another:
- Sarcastic humor to put you down (remember – it’s only a joke if you are both laughing);
- Condescending or critical thoughts over you; they are mad you ‘don’t get it’;
- You are left out of information loops or social situations in order to have power over you.
What drives all of this? Envy. The bully wants what you have. The bully wants to take what is not theirs.
What Happens When You Feel Rejected?
Some people, after years of rejection, may act as the ‘rejector’. Nothing seems to be good enough or acceptable enough. We are constantly offended or disappointed. It might be situational, or all the time. This is a reaction to the initial rejection, or the ‘wound’ we once experienced.
Other things we may experience are:
- Being accident prone;
- Being edgy;
- Suffering from anxiety;
- Suffering from depression;
- Thinking suicidal thoughts;
- Not being able to sleep;
- Excessive worrying;
- Excessive analyzing;
- Feeling others are talking about us;
- Feeling others are ‘out to get us’;
- Feeling apathetic: what’s the use?
- Procrastinating; perhaps becoming phony in order to cover up;
- Criticizing others so we can feel better;
- Letting others walk all over us, yet blaming them for this too;
- Feelings of self-pity, resentment, anger, jealousy, envy, greed, intolerance, impatience, selfishness because ‘it’s not fair’, over-sensitivity, vanity or indifference.
- Withdrawing and alienating from those we love.
What Can You Do?
Remembering that everyone has felt rejection is important. Secondly, being bullied and feeling rejected can knock even the most competent person off their stride. Having said this, here are some things you can do to lessen the hurtful and sad feelings:
- Admit you feel rejected.
- Admit if there are any self-preservation behaviors you may be doing in order to cope.
- When one is rejected, they feel out of control. Gaining back control is realizing and admitting you are powerless over your emotions (meaning we need help and also we cannot really change another).
- If you are suffering to a large degree, know you deserve to feel better; and it can get better.
- Consider Emotions Anonymous. Look them up. It is the most effective and low cost solution support system I know that can restore hope, dignity and control back into your life.
- Look out for patterns. Do you spend a lot of your time harboring the feelings of rejection? Time to get yourself some help… it’s ok, we cannot ‘lean on our own understanding’ for everything.
- Keep a list of the best compliments you have ever received and review them. Keep an encouragement file folder with your ‘notes’.
- Work at knowing who you are. High approval needs is an addiction that will never be met. When we know who we are and what we stand for more clearly, we tend to stand taller. Make a list of what is important to you and develop a life around these things.
- Decide: what you can control, what you cannot. What you can cure, what you cannot. What you did cause, what you did not.
- Expression is the opposite of depression. Decide to change things up and give something to someone else. A smile, an encouraging call, a joke. Something given as encouragement to another is a higher vibrational level than the feelings of sadness derived from rejection. This might sound simple and small, but it might be just the thing to turn your heart around, just when you need it…and you’re in control of that.
We are more than our emotions. We are wonderful people worth celebrating and honoring. My very best to you this week.
Valerie Cade, CSP is a Workplace Bullying Expert, Speaker and Author of “Bully Free at Work: What You Can Do To Stop Workplace Bullying Now!” which has been distributed in over 100 countries worldwide. For presentations and consulting on workplace bullying prevention and respectful workplace implementation, go to http://www.bullyfreeatwork.com
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