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Rejection - Why Devastation and Paralysis Need Not Follow in its Wake

By Gabriella Kortsch

We've all been there: we asked someone for something... a date, a job, a raise, a loan, help in doing something, forgiveness, love, a recommendation, and so on, and we were rejected. Or we started up a business, like a restaurant, but then not enough clients came... and so we felt rejected. Oh the devastation inside! The feeling of utter failure... and yes, rejection.

Rejection gives rise to many feelings that make us doubt our own self-worth, that cause us to put great big question marks around our value as men, women, human beings. The fact that we have been rejected makes many other accomplishments we may have under our belt pale in comparison. We arbitrarily give the rejection tremendous power over our own judgment of ourselves.

Inner Security

Inherent in this lies not only our sense of self esteem, self acceptance, and self love, but more importantly, our sense of self confidence, or to put it in slightly awkward, but more exact terms, our sense of inner security about ourselves.

In other words, if we have a strong sense of inner security, and if we believe - with all our being - in the essence of our value as a human being, as a man, or a woman, then rejection will merely appear to be a mild ripple in a pond on a warm summer day. If, however, our sense of inner security depends on validation from sources external to ourselves, then rejection may appear to be as overwhelming as a category 5 hurricane, and in its devastating and annihilating power, sweep us off our feet, robbing us of initiative and pro-activity.

Success After Rejection and Failure

This is the insidious power of rejection to paralyze us. We fear what we call failure, and failure is implicit in rejection for those who identify their self-worth and inner security with external approbation and acceptance. And yet, remember what you may have read on numerous occasions: how often was Abraham Lincoln rejected by the electorate, for Congress, for the Senate, and ultimately for the Presidency, before he was finally elected? Did this stop him from trying again? How often did Edison's attempts at inventing a usable light bulb end in failure? Did this stop him from trying again? Beethoven was considered hopeless at composing by his music teacher... evidently this did not stop him from doing precisely that. The New York Times pronounced the idea of television as something the average family would never want in their homes, and Warner Brothers said talking movies would never be a success, and this clearly did not stop all those who were promoting these ideas.

Preventive Measures

We must be aware of the power of rejection, and therefore take preventive measures in order that when we meet up with it, it does not take the rhythm out of our lives. Clearly, no one is entirely impervious to rejection, and no one can totally ignore it. Indeed, on occasion rejection may indicate that steps must be taken in order to improve on something that is not giving the desired results. An author, for example, faced with numerous rejections from publishers, may consider some of their suggestions for improving the manuscript. An actor who is rejected after each audition, may consider taking some additional acting classes. A politician who is rejected in each election, may consider carefully examining the position he or she takes on specific issues.

However, and this is very important, even if the rejection causes a person to try to improve something, the fact of the matter is, that the worth and value of that person are no different before and after upgrading their chosen activity. And it is precisely this which people with a negligible sense of inner security do not see. Therefore it behooves every individual to work on building up and expanding this sense of inner security.

Life in the Fast Lane to Inner Growth

This means self-awareness has to become the name of the daily game. In particular, each and every day self talk must be observed. What are you telling yourself? How are you reacting in given situations? What are your feelings about the events that occur? Once you get a handle on what goes on inside of you at least for a portion of the time (because to become conscious of all of this all of the time, takes a while, and a bit of discipline), then you can get a feel for where your inner security needs some tweaking.

Recognition of Patterns Leads to Freedom

Try to see a pattern in your self talk, your reactions, and feelings. Remember to also take stock of your physical reactions at each of these steps... is your breathing suddenly more shallow...or is your solar plexus twisting in pain...or perhaps there is suddenly a lump in your throat. Become conscious not only of the pattern of your thoughts, self talk, reactions, and feelings, but also of the pattern of your body's reactions.

Most likely the pattern will be dancing around the issue of how you tend to make mistakes, or how you are supposed to be perfect, or how dumb you are, or how you can never get it right, or how people just don't seem to like you, or another variation of this same theme. Seeing the pattern will help you counteract it, because on those occasions where you actually catch yourself "in the pattern", once you have established what it is, you will be able to bring consciousness or awareness, rather than blindness, into the reaction. So you will be able to turn the thought, or the reaction, or the feeling into something more positive, more self-affirming, something that, in other words, works affirmatively on your sense of inner security. Once you have begun this process, observe how you begin to feel differently when you get a new rejection. This is another step towards the inner freedom so often mentioned in these articles. Go for it!

Gabriella Kortsch, Ph.D. (Psychology), author of Rewiring the Soul, is a practicing psychotherapist who works with an international clientele in Marbella, Spain using an integral focus on body, mind and soul. She has published a newsletter in English and Spanish since 2004, facilitates monthly workshops and broadcast a weekly radio show both locally in Spain, as well as on the internet for seven years. Prior to her work in private practice she was Director of Sales & Marketing at several luxury beach properties in Spain and Mexico and was married to a diplomat. She has three sons.

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