I like to understand words, to take them apart and get to the root of what was intended. Lately, I’ve been contemplating, and feeling, “REJECTION.” The word “REJECT” means, “To throw back or away.” To be rejected is to be thrown away. Wow, yes, that is certainly what it feel like. Doesn’t it?
Rejection comes in countless forms, real and perceived. We can be rejected by others, by institutions, and by ourselves. Some forms of rejection are blatant while some are subtle. We may be turned down for a job, or perhaps not feel heard when we are talking to a loved one.
There are many styles of dealing with rejection. The style we choose may have been passed down through the generations of our family or it may change based on the circumstances.
Many of us try to ignore or numb the emotions that arise when we experience rejection. We might tell the tale over and over to our friends, gather validation that we are okay. We may internalize it and make a decision to never share that part of ourselves again.
No matter what our habits are of dealing with rejection, we will usually be engaged in some level of reactivity surrounding the event, person or institution. Most of us will defend ourselves with some version of, “I didn’t like you anyway.” We will try to convince ourselves that we are better off without that person or situation. We reject our own feelings.
The thing I have learned through contemplating my own experiences of rejection is that rejection is a hook. When I experience it, I usually have something between a twinge and flood of, “I’ll show you!” That thought formation hooks me, binds me, to the rejector. You see, when we push something away, we have to have just as much contact with it as when we are grasping it. It’s a different gesture but the energy is very similar. There’s the the hook. Right?
What I’m seeing through working with myself and others is that it’s really our job to remove the hook from our own skin. How do we do this? I have to start on the deepest levels of the metaphorical flesh in which the hook is buried. I have to feel my feelings. All of them.
You see, if I have been rejecting my feelings, I’m holding that dang hook in place. I tell myself that it’s not bothering me but that’s not at all true. I’m exerting a ton of emotional energy trying to control my feelings by ignoring them, acting out, or looking for validation. Those things can look a lot like having it together but it’s very superficial.
We all have the need to belong. When I have a sense of belonging, I feel safe. When I have been “thrown back or away,” I am alone and I don’t feel safe. I feel that I am in danger.
If I expose to others that I have been rejected, a primal fear arises that perhaps others will begin to notice the attribute that has been rejected. The fear is that I will have drawn attention to whatever was rejected and I will be vulnerable to further rejection.
My contemplations and explorations of rejection have exposed a motherlode of pride and shame within me. Pride and shame are two prongs on the hook of rejection. They keep that hook buried deeply.
Through my own process as well as the experience of working with hundreds and hundreds of students throughout the years, I know what works and what buries the hooks deeper. Hook removal requires much openness, gentleness, and honesty. To effectively remove the hooks we have to have the willingness, time, mindfulness, practice, a supportive environment, witnesses, and professional assistance.
Red Mountain Sedona is absolutely the most supportive environment you could imagine. We take all the work done in primary care and build on it with world class therapeutic care. We aren’t a team of mechanics. We are a team of devoted, gifted therapists and counselors assembled in the healing environment of breathtaking Sedona, Arizona.
-Josh White, Founder / Executive Director