I have noticed more and more how much of our social conversation and social focal point is about rejection. I see it all over the media, in all sorts of topic areas. In politics, it seems to be a never-ending discussion about polls and who is up or down, who is “winning” or who is being rejected. We also hear that people vote based on their feelings of rejection. Is rejection all that matters?
So many products are sold based on the idea that owning them means you are included, and not owning them means you are an outsider. How many things do we buy not to appear like we are “losers” – the ones to be rejected? How often do we alter our appearance, our attitudes, our interests, needs, wishes, and desires not to be rejected? Have you ever resented what is demanded so that you will not be rejected? Perhaps that resentment is well-placed and needs to be given some consideration.
Rejection And Survival
Rejection and rejection fears are not accidental. They come from our early experiences and obvious vulnerability when we are young. We learn that we are not as welcome if we act a certain way: if we are excited or exuberant is a common example.
But there is more to this than our own interpretation of our experience when we are young. Rejection is a primary tool used to get us to conform and to get us to behave in ways that make others comfortable. It is how we are trained to support our cultural system, and we can be rejected and chastised sometimes in very harsh ways for rejecting the demands of our cultural system.
Many will guilt-trip those who question or live by different values than those espoused by their cultural system. Changing dress “tolerated” by conservative societies is an example. Embracing a line of work that is different or non-professional when professionalism is the ticket to success. Stepping outside of social narratives about what is OK or not or what is the defined “truth” or not can invite rejection and even condemnation.
The rejection we are talking about here becomes self-rejection and keeps us stuck in ways of living that may not be what we need, especially as circumstances change. As a result, we lose our flexibility, adaptability, and resilience, a heavy price to pay to get along with others.
Rejection protects what is. Therefore, it does not help us be present and work on what we need to be attending to in the present. Rejection is inevitably backward-looking. Rejection protects old “truths” or dogma even when the dogma is wrong. You can often feel the dogmatism in rejection. It is in the energy, which can be closed and defensive.
When our energy rejects ourselves and others, we are not connecting and working together. We focus on threats of one kind or another, so rejection is definitely fear-based. When we get a lot of rejection growing up, we may become afraid of ourselves as a “bad” person. This is one of the cruelest messages we can pick up because it is untrue. Seeing alternatives to the status quo is creativity, not a fault in us.
Since the world is constantly changing, and we need to change with it, when rejection is a central focus of human culture, by its very nature, it makes change difficult. When we cannot adapt, we are not supporting our thriving and not even our survival a lot of the time.
So what can we do about this?
Rejection And Thriving
It is essential to consider how rejection because it is threat and fear-based, can be very short-sighted. I am not talking here about setting boundaries. I am talking about the kind of rejection that does not allow change.
Rejection and thriving do not mix very well. When protecting the status quo, anything that interferes with that status quo will be treated as a danger, including important information that we need to take care of ourselves in a changing world. How we handle climate and environmental emergencies is an excellent example of how protecting the status quo means that some reject the critical information needed to address them effectively. It becomes a way of shooting ourselves in the foot and also harms others.
Making the survival of the culture more important than the thriving of a culture invites this kind of self-defeating behavior.
Thriving as an intention is totally different in its focus and interests. When you want to create thriving, you want to take care of everything that supports thriving in the present and future more than anything else. Thriving as a purpose becomes a shared purpose and a way for people to work together for their mutual benefit.
Thriving is long-sighted, not short-sighted, which is one of the big flaws of survival thinking. Thriving requires a long-term investment in creating the supports necessary to support thriving and then maintaining those supports so we can adapt as need be, knowing that we have the supports in place to do so. An agenda of thriving requires letting go of conflicts that get in the way. Conflicts and the resources they consume get in the way of our thriving.
Rejection And Living Your Truth
Rejection also gets in the way of caring for ourselves, discovering and being ourselves, and living our truth. It can prevent us from learning new things so that we can take our place in an ever-changing world and participate in shaping that world.
How many things do you do or not do because rejection of one kind or another blocks you from pursuing something? How many parts of yourself do you reject because you have been taught to do so, rather than ask what benefit that quality brings you?
What have you abandoned in yourself because it was disapproved of?
If you made a list, it might include creativity, wonder, curiosity, and seeing the good in yourself and others because you have been taught that people and life are “bad.” It will likely include your sensuality. Sensuality is an essential source of information about your lived experience and, when abandoned, will keep you living in your head. Sexuality is also another common rejection.
Everything you reject takes you out of life and makes you more vulnerable because you cannot draw on your own inner resources to make your life work. So you need a way to change that.
How a Joy Practice Releases Inadequacy
A joy practice is not about rejection. It is about embracing the good in ourselves, each other, and life, past, present, and future. It is constructive in its intention and serves the common good, which means it does not waste energy on false conflicts and unnecessary rejections.. It does not need the drama and unhappiness that comes from the rejection game – and it is often a game. Because it serves the common good, it seeks to create thriving for all of us. It does not need to beat anyone, impress, or exclude. Social competition is not interesting to a joy practice – quality of life is.
A joy practice is naturally healing because it takes us out of rejection dynamics so we are free to be ourselves and contribute what we have to give. Doesn’t that sound a lot easier?