Episode 61: Gaining Confidence Again After Facing Rejection
Rejection is something that everyone faces and it really hurts. Sometimes it can seem like it rocks our very foundation leaving us hurt, lonely, and vulnerable. It can seem incredibly difficult to rise up again after rejection and more of a hurdle to get to a space where you feel really confident but in this episode, I teach you how to do just that. Join me and learn how to cultivate confidence after rejection
Welcome back to the show. I love coming here each week and getting to talk to you all. I just have to tell you all about how birthday month is going. In the membership, we’ve been doing 31 days of celebrating you and learning to cultivate self-love and I tell you what, it’s been incredible. I created a huge workbook with files for each and every day so that we can really apply each tool and use it to focus our intentions and energy on and it’s a remarkable gift to give to yourself because it feels amazing.
These gifts are unlike anything else you’ve been given because these gifts are transformative, empowering, and healing and it’s just made birthday month all the more incredible and special. I’ve been telling my clients that even if it’s not their birthday just to call it their unbirthday and celebrate themselves anyway and you know what? I’ve heard amazing feedback from them. They’ve been telling me that they’ve never really allowed themselves to be celebrated. They’re always focused on others, the kids, they downplay their real birthdays, even like mother’s day they’re so focused on their mother’s or in-laws that they don’t ever feel celebrated – and it’s not because of what others do for them, this is because they’re not allowing themselves to appreciate themselves. So this is quite a gift and I’m so happy to be a part of their journey in such an impactful way.
Next month I’ve got something really, really good coming your way too so make sure you’re on my email list so you can get information and updates on that and when enrollment opens up again. You’re not going to want to miss any of it.
Okay, let’s dive into our topic today and that’s learning how to gain confidence again after facing rejections.
It’s super fun, right? The truth is, everyone experiences rejection and it hurts. Like really physically hurts which is one reason why we’re so terrified of it and we go to ridiculously great lengths to avoid it and I’m going to talk about some of those traps we get ourselves into, why rejection hurts so much, and most importantly what you can do to gain confidence again after facing rejection because that’s really what we want. We want to feel confident again, valid again, worthy, and whole again after feeling so much intense pain.
I think the first thing I want to point out is just how often we feel rejection. You might not realize this or it might sound odd because we’re so good and programmed to avoid it but even on a daily basis we do our best to avoid rejection and how it shows up in sneaky, small ways. Life is full of rejection and it’s okay, there is a place for it. In our minds we don’t want it – in fact, there are several articles called rejection proof – which is up there with fearless – it’s just something that isn’t really attainable here in mortality at least not with our brain and how it’s set up. However, knowing that it’s a part of our life we can learn skills and tools to overcome it, to not be incapacitated by it, and how we can move forward with certainty and confidence.
When was the last time you felt rejected?
There are some pretty obvious and really painful experiences of rejection – especially in relationships but what about on a day to day more subtle level? Like…
When someone didn’t respond to your email or text?
When your kids or spouse didn’t like the meal you just made?
When you’re in a meeting and your idea is either shot down, ridiculed, or rejected – and even though it’s the idea that they didn’t like – we internalize this as an appendage of us – it’s not the idea but us that they’re rejecting
When your family or friends get together but you weren’t invited
Being let go from a position
Not getting likes or comments on social media
Getting unfollowed on social media
When you’re in a conversation when you’re speaking and someone talks over you
When someone disagrees with you
When you see others moving ahead and you’re not
When your friend forgets your birthday
When you hear that you’ve been talked about behind your back
When someone doesn’t like something that you said, did, or created
When no one jumps on your invitation or proposal to do something
Rejection hurts. In fact, Mark R. Leary who is a professor of psychology but also known as the rejection doctor – no joke tells us that rejection is not only mentally painful but actually creates physical pain. Which is no wonder we’ll go to great lengths to try to avoid it but there’s something else on a deeper level that’s at play here too and it’s something even more critical and important to understand.
We’re built with primitive wiring. This wiring helped us survive. Dr. Leary says, “When our prehistoric ancestors lived in small nomadic bands on the plains of Africa, being rejected from the clan would have been a death sentence…No one would have survived out there alone with just a sharp rock.”
So people became really sensitive to the possibility of rejection and quickly learned that to be rejected was right up there with a death sentence and thus the social dance and people-pleasing tricks began. So fast forward to today and while we’re not anywhere near the circumstances of our evolutionary past but our wiring is still looking out for the dangers of rejection.
I like how Dr. Leary looks at what rejection is. He says, “rejection gets our attention and forces us to consider our social circumstances.”
But if you were to define rejection what would you say? What is rejection? How would you define that?
I love looking at rejection as a social condition almost. Because rejection really does involve two sides. There has to be someone rejecting something else and these two sides can both be you -you can reject yourself and I’m going to address that in a minute.
But if our evolutionary wiring is about our fear of not having shelter and protection from the group it really is a social concept. It’s how we feel in relation to someone or something else. I’m emphasizing this for a couple of reasons:
1.) it shines a light on our actions and what we do to avoid rejection – people-pleasing, saying yes when we really want to say no. Going to places or events that we don’t want to just because we’re afraid of what the other person will think if we don’t.
And 2.) because all of that is operating under the belief that you or others can hurt another’s feelings.
This is why we say things like, “they rejected me”, “I’ve been rejected” instead of I’m feeling rejected. We believe and assume that others can reject us and so to avoid the threat of death we do this dance believing that if we just make them happy then they won’t reject us and then we’ll be okay. It’s painful either way.
Either we feel rejection which we’ve already said feels both mentally and physically painful or we people please and what’s interesting here is that when we people please – which is doing, saying, being whatever we can be to make others happy – which is a form of manipulation by the way we’re really rejecting ourselves.
So even in our feeble attempts to avoid rejection we’re still feeling the pains of rejection. It’s not a fun place to be in.
I asked you earlier what rejection really is and you know what it is?
Rejection is a feeling in your body created by sentence in your mind. That’s it. That’s rejection.
Rejection is a feeling – even a physical feeling, a vibration in your body created by a thought – your thought.
So all this time we’re dancing and walking on eggshells to avoid feeling rejected by others when we had and have the power all along. It’s not them that rejects you – yes, they can say no, they can say they don’t like it or they don’t like you and none of that matters. None of that creates rejection for you.
The only one that has that power is you.
You reject you by the thoughts you choose to think, by the meaning you give those words from others, by what how you interpret your circumstances.
How differently does it feel now to know that you have had the power all along?
It’s like Dorothy, she’s stuck in Oz and goes through trials and tribulations, pains, and challenges and at the end feels despair because no matter what she did for all her friends, the munchkins, the wizard it wasn’t enough. All her people-pleasing, all her jumping through hoops and still she was stuck until she learned that she had the power within her all along with her magic shoes – which are silver, not ruby in book- crazy, right?
We’re like Dorothy. We jump through other’s hoops, we fret and worry about others and think about how you can show up, what you can say or not say, what your text responses should be all so they won’t reject you but not realizing that they can’t reject you. The only one that can do that is you. It gives it an entirely different feel, doesn’t it?
Other people can’t hurt you. They don’t have access to your feelings. Your feelings are protected from your circumstances by your thoughts. Your thoughts, the meaning you give to your circumstance is what creates the feeling. You create the pain by what you make your circumstances mean.
You take the circumstances and use it as an opportunity to be mean to yourself. When you find out that your friends all got together without you you feel rejected because you make it mean that they didn’t want you, that they don’t like you, that you’re not likable. Did they say that? No, they just went to lunch – but you interpreted it in that light. You made it mean all kinds of ugly and created rejection for yourself.
It hurts so much because of what you’re making it mean, because of how you’re choosing to interpret it and we don’t ever realize this because we’re too busy blaming the other party for rejecting us.
You have to take responsibility for it. Rejection hurts, that’s true no doubting or disputing that but…they aren’t hurting you. You are hurting you because of what you’re making it mean about you.
So here’s what I want you to see, rejection is real. It’s a feeling. It comes from what we’re thinking. It’s hard-wired into our brains from an evolutionary makeup. It’s here to stay because we have our good ol’ negativity bias scanning everything for potential or perceived danger – like always scanning, always trying to interpret, always wanting to create a story to operate from even if that story is painful.
So I don’t believe that in this life we’ll be rejection-proof however we don’t need to be. Rejection is a feeling which means it starts with a thought. Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor cites that it takes roughly 90 seconds for a feeling to cycle through your body. It feels longer sometimes but that’s because you’ve thought another thought that creates the cycle all over again. So the initial sting is part of our mortal experience and it’s okay.
We want to feel the full spectrum of humanity. Allowing it to stay and take up residence in our minds is an entirely different beast.
Dr. Leary says, “Our brains don’t easily tell the difference between rejections that matter and those that don’t unless we consciously think about it and override our automatic reactions,”
It’s easy to let our minds run amuck if we’re not being intentional. You have to override your default and auto-pilot.
Let me walk you through what that can look like – it’s just 4 steps:
1.) Grab the feeling. This looks like pausing to ask yourself what you’re feeling.
When you think a thought like, “They’re all getting together and I wasn’t invited” you might interpret that as hurt or offended but look closer – the hurt and offense really comes later. The initial feeling here is rejection.
We feel hurt because of our story and our interpretation that they should have invited us, they should have wanted us, why don’t they want us? What did we do? (back to people pleasing)
So the first step is just to grab the feeling and think, “I’m feeling rejected” – now here’s another place we tend to get ourselves into trouble because we dive into our story again about why we’re feeling rejected and then we layer on more feelings like hurt, offended, sad, etc.
But the next step after you’ve grabbed the feeling is to actually feel it. This is to acknowledge that I’m feeling rejection. What does rejection even feel like? I’m betting you might not know. I didn’t for a really long time. I knew it felt terrible but when I stopped to actually feel it, it wasn’t unbearable. What was unbearable was the story that I was creating. That was painful and hurt so much but the actual feeling of rejection, while it’s not cozy, it’s certainly doable and less painful than what I creating by indulging in my story.
Allow the feeling to be present in your body without thinking your feelings. Without diving into more of a story. It’s an emotion. It’s a vibration in your body created by a sentence in your mind. What does the vibration feel like?
Do that for 90 seconds and really give yourself the experience of feeling the feeling and not thinking the feeling.
I can’t stress what a powerful process this is. When you’re tracing the feeling in your body you’re not indulging in a painful story anymore. You’re not triggering the cycle to start up again. You’re not hurting yourself anymore. You’ve now created a clean slate and it’s a beautiful space to start over.
When you do start over you’re going to want to give yourself the gift of acknowledging fact and fiction. What are the bare facts? Provable facts. No story, no I thinks, no interpretations just facts. The facts generally aren’t hurtful. It’s the story and our interpretation of the facts that create the pain.
One fact is that what they say or do is all about them and not about you. The pain comes from your attachment to the story and making it mean things about you when in reality it’s not about you. Your brain will want to bring up all kinds of ugly, it’ll tell you you’re not enough, they don’t like you, who do you think you are, you’re never going to make it, they’re never going to love you, you’re not good enough, you’re behind everyone else, you’re not likable, you’re not…etc
Painful. Ouch. Stop. Please stop.
Instead, stick to the bare facts.
She said words.
Sue and Ellen ate lunch.
Just make a list of the facts and notice how it feels when you do. It’s not painful. It’s just bland. Like okay, that happened, now what?
It’s easy to move forward when you’re not diving into some hurtful, painful, fictional story.
So what’s next? What do you after you’ve cleared the story? After you’ve felt the rejection? How do you move forward with confidence?
You have to remember that confidence is another feeling – it’s not a full-on state of being. It’s something that you create by the thoughts you’re thinking.
Now this isn’t to get mixed up with what’s known as “toxic positivity” and I don’t believe that it’s toxic, I don’t really agree with that term but rather false positivity because it’s just not believable yet.
I remember feeling this rejection over a friend and my sister in law trying to console me was telling me that they’re just jealous – you know like you do when you’re trying to help someone feel better but it never worked.
Them feeling jealous didn’t help me at all. It elevates me to a higher plane because I still felt rejected. So instead of jumping to false positivity, I want to invite you to remember the confidence model. You can hear more in-depth teachings about these in episodes 52-56
But if you remember, confidence is Knowing and Embracing all the parts of you and being able to trust in yourself and in your abilities.
So to create confidence we need to move through these essential steps. We need to rewrite the story but without the other party in mind and focus on you.
When your brain tells you that they didn’t invite you because they don’t like you and really you’re not likable – it’s worth the effort and time to understand what it was that triggered you. Realize that not every rejection is equal. It’s probably not going to bother you that your kids groan or complain over your movie choice. You won’t think, “They’re rejecting me and my movie”.
But when it comes to something else like showing someone something you made or created and they don’t like it – it’s a whole new ballgame and we feel crushed and rejected.
In both cases, the circumstance was that the other party didn’t like something you offered and yet, the meaning you put on the circumstances creates a not-a-big-deal experience or a deeply hurt one.
It’s not the circumstances. It’s the not the people. It’s you and this is a perfect time to understand you and why it bothers you.
One question that’s so powerful here is to ask, “what am I afraid of?”
Where’s the fear?
Maybe it’s that if they don’t like it then that means no one is going to like it, you’re not enough and never will be enough.
You’ll see that our brains are really amazing at going from 0-60 in less than a millisecond. So don’t judge, don’t counter just be curious at first. Ask questions and see where you’re coming from.
The Embracing all the parts of you looks like adding “of course” – of course, my brain thinks that. It’s wired to worry and scan for potential danger. Of course, it’s going to worst-case – that’s what it does.
Then trust – this trust is so important because it offers you what you really want and need. Ask yourself, what do I really want?
I wanted them to like it, to see how hard I worked on that.
Then ask, If I had that how do I think I’d feel:
Maybe that’s accepted, appreciated even.
And this here then is your work to do. It’s not their job to accept you – that’s your job. Do I like it? Do I like my choices? Do I like how far I’ve come and can I appreciate how hard I worked on this?
You need to acknowledge and appreciate you and the more you dive into this focus the more confident you’ll start to feel.
This creates certainty in yourself and in your vision.
So often we try to outsource this responsibility to people that aren’t even good at managing their own minds and feelings – why do we then expect them to be good at taking care of ours?
Know, Embrace, Trust – so powerful!
I want to throw out a few more thoughts about rejection that I want you to ponder and sit with. As human beings, we recognize that there is opposition in all things and that includes our feelings. There are positive and negative feelings – notice, not good or bad just the contrast. Without that, we couldn’t feel what we feel to the depth that we do and I’m certain you wouldn’t want to trade that. So with that in mind, What if you were
open to experience the feeling of rejection as part of your mortal experience?
What if you were willing to feel it because rejection makes belonging possible. It makes connections so much sweeter, deeper, and intimate.
We don’t need to be afraid of rejection.
Often times we think that if we’re perfect then we can’t be rejected and so we adopt a perfectionist mentality always hustling, working, and trying to be everything for everyone else but when we do this we never show the world or even ourselves who we really are. We’re just putting forth some fake, counterfeit version of who we think they want us to be.
We need to remember that what they do and say and think isn’t about you. It’s about them. You can’t control how they feel any more than they can control how you feel.
If you truly want to experience mortality and show up confidently then you have to be willing to risk that there are going to be people that just don’t like you and it’s not you. It has nothing to do with you.
There are people that don’t like Disneyland and to us, we’re like, how could you not like Disneyland?!
There are people that don’t celebrate holidays – I have a friend, this beautiful friend that doesn’t celebrate birthdays at all. It’s not a thing in their house and over here we have birthday month! She thinks we’re crazy and we kinda think she’s crazy and it all okay.
It’s okay for people to have different preferences because it’s not about you. If you make a peach pie and someone says no thanks I don’t like peaches. You don’t take offense to that because it’s not about you.
You have to practice accepting yourself, liking yourself, validating yourself because you’re the only one with the power to reject or accept you.
When someone doesn’t like you – we don’t want to feel good about that – like yay! They don’t like me. We want to choose to feel sad like, that’s a huge bummer. I’m kind of amazing, I’m sad they’re missing out but it’s okay because it’s not about you. It doesn’t even inhibit your ability to like them.
The same concept is true for work, your career – it’s not about you. When the boss doesn’t like something – take it as feedback and information instead of making it mean something terrible about your worth as a human being. It’s not about you.
It’s 100% possible to create confidence after rejection because you’re the captain of the ship. You steer your own vessel. Be vigilant and watch your brain. We have a sign on our wall that says, “Constant vigilance!” And this phrase is so applicable in so many areas and most especially when it comes to thought work.
Watch what your brain tries to offer you. See how sneaky rejection comes on. Catch the feeling and stop buying into the story. Your brain will want to say, they don’t like you, you shouldn’t have said that you shouldn’t have texted that, they’re going to think less of you.
Stick to the facts. Don’t make up a story. Instead, go inward. Know your why, get to know you, embrace all that you are, and love and accept yourself.
They don’t need to like you – what matters is if you like you.
Be open to feeling all the feels its part of our humanity. We love the humans especially when they’re so good at being human.
When you’re not so worried about rejection you can use that mental energy to keep moving forward, to keep loving others, to keep becoming the kind of person that you love and want to be around.
Okay, friends, I could talk about this a ton. In fact, I have more podcasts coming on this topic because it’s such a biggie. But stick with this for now.
Rejection is feeling – a feeling that you create.
You’ve got this! Talk to you next week!