Bruce I. Doyle, III, Ph.D.


At some point in our lives we all come face to face with the feelings created by what is referred to as "rejection". These feelings can be brought about by many situations. A lover, partner, spouse or a close friend decides that they want out of the relationship, a parent declines an offer to visit for the holidays, the company you desperately want to work for turns down your application or the family doesn't like what you just spent hours cooking. Think of the last time you felt "rejected". What were the circumstances?


The feelings related to "being rejected" for most of us are so severe that we will do most anything to avoid putting ourselves in a situation where they may be triggered. Selling products is a big issue for a lot of people because they fear feeling rejected should someone say "no". Sales trainers often condition new salespersons by having them assume they are going to get 50 "nos". They create excitement about each "no" assuming it is getting them closer to the first "yes". This may work on the surface but the underlying fear is still there - but what if I get 100?


Let's examine the circumstances related to feeling rejected. First, we need to explore the source of our feelings. Where do they originate? What causes them? You guessed it - our thoughts. Our feelings come from our own thoughts. That means that our feelings are self-determined and not caused by someone else. No one else can generate our thoughts - they are ours - consequently, so are our feelings. The thoughts about being rejected come from our own perception of what happened. That means that the event - being rejected - doesn't exist. It's only your mental perception of the event that labels it "rejection".


Several years ago when I was doing career counseling, some of my clients would refer to the "rejection" letters they received in response to mailing their resume. As they described the circumstances in detail you could see that they felt personally rejected. They were taking the "rejection" letter to heart. Their perception of being rejected was having a very negative impact on their attitude. Not a good situation for conducting a job search.


To help them shift their perspective so they could keep their energy positive, I created a simple exercise. See if it works for you.


Imagine several small items on a table top. One is made of rubber, one of wood, one of glass, one of plastic and one of iron. Now visualize a magnet about the same size as the other objects. Imagine moving the magnet to the rubber, then to the wood and in turn the glass and the plastic. What happened? Nothing. Now, move the magnet to the iron. What happened? Smack, they stuck together. Why? Because their properties attract each other. They are a good match. So, what does that say about the rubber, the wood, the glass and the plastic? Did they "reject" the magnet? Of course not. They just had different characteristics. They were just not the right match. No rejection at all. The magnet only needed to find the right match for it. So, when a situation occurs that doesn't match simple say to yourself, "there is a better fit for me". Then go on with anticipation of finding the perfect match for you.


The situation is slightly different when you confront a verbal "no" but it's still your perception that labels the response a "rejection". When someone says "no" they are merely stating a preference that they have. It says nothing about you. So when someone says "no" to you remind yourself that they are merely expressing a preference. Sometimes it helps to say to yourself, "This is not about me."


These simple techniques are useful for shifting your feelings once they are triggered. The real benefit is to eliminate what is triggering your emotions so the issue of rejection is eliminated from your life. What's triggering these feelings is a belief that you are most likely not aware of. At some prior time in your life you encountered a situation that was painful and you made a decision (created a belief) about what happened. Because it was painful, you unknowingly tucked it away in what is referred to as your subconscious. When situations occur that are similar to the original incident, those same feelings arise automatically. You seem to have no control over them.


Because our perceptions and experiences are derived from our beliefs there is a very simple exercise that you can use to find out what belief you hold that is creating your feelings of rejection.


Identify a situation that triggers your feelings of rejection. Call it "X". Then ask yourself, "What would someone have to believe to experience "X"? Continue asking and answering this question for yourself until you reach an answer that feels like an "aha". When you have a sudden realization - it will probably have emotion associated with it - you've reached the deep-seated "root cause" belief that is generating your feelings of rejection. With this new awareness, you can now replace that limiting belief with an empowering one. Don't be surprised if you uncover a belief that you have about yourself. When we don't feel good about ourselves we look to others to validate our worth. When we don't get it, we feel rejected. When we value ourselves, rejection isn't usually an issue.


If you encounter feelings of rejection - explore your beliefs. It's the path for saying "good-by" to those feelings - forever.


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