Episode 4: Recovering After Rejection

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Episode 4: Recovering After Rejection

Welcome back to another episode of the Midsingles Meetup. I hope you’re loving it so far. I’ve got lots of goodness planned and scheduled for you all so keep coming back and don’t forget to bring your friends so you can talk about it together. 

When I first found coaching my best friend and I would walk 5 miles a day. We had this specific route that we’d take and it was ridiculously fun just chatting daily with her and when we got into coaching we just talked daily about the new concepts, how to apply it, what it meant to us and our season and it just really helped solidify these truths that I’ve come to love and now teach on. 

Edgar Dale once said, We remember 

10% of what we read

20% of what we hear

30% of what we see

50% of what we see and hear 70% of what we discuss with others 80% of what we personally experience 95% of what we teach others

I don’t know the true validity of that but I do believe that we retain the most when we’re run a position to discuss and teach so grab yourself a buddy and start a conversation about it. This is huge in the dating world because you’re just getting to know someone and most of the time you’re both coming from a lot of past experiences, preferences, biases, and beliefs that might be limiting your forward progression so being open to have these talks with these topics will do amazing things for your relationship.

I know that all of my connections were transformed when I invited this work not only into my life and who I was becoming but also to be able to talk with them about these things. If you’re dating someone and it’s getting more serious, listen to these together so you make sure to start your new journey with a strong mental connection that comes from your own healthy emotional well-being.

Everything that I teach and share is 100% applicable to your relationship because it’s asking you to be accountable for your emotions and not outsourcing your needs onto someone else. When we do that it’s a breeding ground for insecurities, for doubts, for resentment, and for scarcity thinking. So tune in together, talk about it with your friends. Share the concepts taught here, have them or you set up a call to come chat with me. I’m really fun, I promise, it’ll be an amazing coaching call and you’ll leave better and more equipped to handle your specific circumstances. It’s so good!

And don’t forget that this podcast could use the love my friends. Please leave a rating and a review so that I can continue to bring you good stuff and more content each week. Head over to iTunes and leave a review and I just might share it on the show! I want to share one today from Jessica Duncan. She writes:

“I can not say enough good about Hannah Coles or this podcast. I’ve known Hannah for about half my life and have loved watching her blossom as a life coach. I specifically love this particular podcast because I fall in this age group myself. I have found myself occasionally falling prey to the feelings and stereotypes that come with being a mid-single, which can be hard and challenging. Hannah has helped me feel seen and see that although those are real and hard, they can be handled and managed because I have control over my perception of me! I have agency and the power to be all that I want to be and more. Thank you Hannah for inspiring me to be a better version of myself and seek being seen. Love you, sweet friend!”

Okay, come on, right? She’s just the best. I love Jessica. You guys have to connect with her because I’m certain people need more Jess in their lives, I know I do. I love her warmth and sunshine and amazingly brilliant smile. She’s just an incredible human being and I’m so blessed to have her spirit in my life. Thank you for that beautiful review, Jess! I love that you’re here. Thank you!

If you want to be spotlighted head over to iTunes and leave a rating and a review. Alright, the topic today is one that everyone has experienced on numerous occasions and it’s painful and can create large holes where self-doubt, and insecurities can creep in and leave these traumatic impressions on us.

I’m talking today about Recovering After Rejection.

It’s important to know how to recover because sometimes especially after a break-up or a divorce we can feel so raw and deeply hurt and just not knowing how to move forward or even feeling like that’s an option. This is one area of our mental health that pours over into our physical health and well-being so much so that it’s been proven that rejection actually causes a physical pain. Brain scans have shown that the very same brain regions get activated when we experience rejection as when we experience physical pain.”  

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 want to talk about rejection but more so I want to help you know how to recover after facing rejection. I want you to be able to feel confident even after a rejection.

Rejection is seemingly always on the table when it comes to dating and even friendships as a midsingle so it’s difficult to put yourself out there or to even want to put yourself out there because your natural man/primitive brain is in the background screaming at you that you might die all the while.

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.”

I think looking at rejection as a social condition is really fascinating. Because rejection really does involve two sides. There has to be someone rejecting something else and the one receiving the rejection. But really these two sides can both be you -you can be both the rejector and the rejectee and I’m going to talk more about that in a minute. 

But if we think about it as a social concept. It’s really how we feel in relation to someone or something else. I’m emphasizing this for a couple of reasons:

1.) it shines 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. 

Dr. Guy Winch said, “Rejections can cause four distinct psychological wounds, the severity of which depends on the situation and our emotional health at the time. Specifically, rejections elicit emotional pain so sharp it affects our thinking, floods us with anger, erodes our confidence and self-esteem, and destabilizes our fundamental feeling of belonging.”

So four areas that rejection creates:

1.) it creates emotional pain that affects our thinking

2.) Floods us with anger

3.) Erodes our confidence and self-esteem

4.) destabilizes our fundamental feeling of belonging.

Continuing from Dr. Winch, he says, 

“Many of the rejections we experience are comparatively mild and our injuries heal with time. But when left untreated, even the wounds created by mild rejections can become “infected” and cause psychological complications that seriously impact our mental well-being…Indeed, what separates rejection from almost every other negative emotion we encounter in life is the magnitude of the pain it elicits. We often describe the emotional pain we experience after a significant rejection as…being punched in the stomach or stabbed in the chest. True, few of us have actually been stabbed in the chest, but when psychologists asked people to compare the pain of rejection to physical pains they had experienced, they rated their emotional pain as equal in severity to that associated with natural childbirth and cancer treatments!” 

Even the last episode I shared a rejection that I experienced with a calling and I described it as feeling like I was stabbed in the chest – I actually said, dagger to my heart because it just hurts so much. Mentally and physically. It’s a real issue and the recovery is essential to know how to move forward and especially how to heal.

So if rejection causes 4 distinct psychological wounds then let’s talk about them and talk about treatment for each of them. When you understand this emotional first aid then you won’t fear it as much as you might now. You’ll be able to risk being seen, risk vulnerability, risk being open, risk dating, risk being unapologetically you and that’s an amazing thing to be. That’s what the world needs more of and when you show up from that space your people can and will find you.

It’s when we’re hiding, when we’re afraid, when we’re too worried about what could happen so we close up, we don’t share, we act like chameleons and hide our true natures to fit in and then wonder why things didn’t work out. So let go through each area and talk about it so you can understand it more and learn how to prepare, treat, heal, and recover from rejection.

1.) it creates emotional pain that affects our thinking

This by far is THE MOST important one that we’ll talk about today. Your brain is the powerhouse of everything else you do, everything you feel, everything you create, everything you perceive so when we’re letting something affect our thinking we’re not creating what you want to create. You’re not showing up how you want to and you’re not becoming who you know you can be and want to be.

Let me start by asking you a question that might seem obvious, what is rejection? If you were asked to define it, what would you say?

Rejection is a feeling in your body, right?

In life we’re presented with circumstances. These circumstances trigger our thoughts and our thoughts create how we feel.

Circumstances are anything that’s out of our control, anything that other’s say or do – so when someone says something to you, or about you. That triggers thoughts in your mind and it’s your sentence in your mind that creates the feeling of rejection.

Crazy, right?

Rejection is a feeling – even a physical feeling, a vibration in your body created by a thought – your thought.

So earlier when I said it involves 2 roles – the rejector and the rejectee really both of these are you.

Yes, people can reject something, someone, you even. And all that means is that they refuse, dismiss, or don’t accept something. But why doesn’t it bother us when they dismiss a song that we like? Or they reject our choice of dinner option or even don’t accept our movie preference?

Those things don’t really matter to us and usually when someone rejects our offering of food we’re like, “Sweet! More for me!” right?

So by definition, they operated as the rejector but we don’t assume the role of the rejectee, and why? Because in our minds, we don’t really care too much about that. We’re not invested in it. In short, we don’t make it mean anything negative about us. 

This is an option you have at your disposal at any time. Always. Rejection only hurts when you make it mean something terribly negative about you. You make it mean that they don’t care about you, that they’d rather date or be with someone else, that you’re not lovable, that something is wrong with you, that you’ll never find the one, that no one really likes you, and all the mean things you can think of, right?

It’s a terrible place to be in.

Last week I shared in my rejection story that I made it mean that I wasn’t good enough. That I was replaceable -easily replaceable and it created an enormous amount of physical and emotional pain for me. But here’s what so important to hear and to take note of, I made it mean terrible things and because I believed those terrible things, I felt rejected, hurt, and not important. 

I hurt myself by the story in my mind. You are the rejector and the rejectee and it’s not a fun place to be in but knowing that you’re both, you can protect yourself from harm, emotional and physical by being a strict gatekeeper of the thoughts you allow yourself to think about and entertain.

The more you allow yourself to go down in the rabbit hole the more pain you’ll inflict on yourself and the harder it will be to pull yourself out. Believe me, I know. It’s the worst feeling and it’s just a dark terrible place. 

Rejection is inevitable because we’re all human with our own likes and dislikes. Our own preferences and wants. But it doesn’t have to hurt or create emotional setbacks. Only you can do that by what you make their words and actions mean about 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.

Other people can’t hurt you. They don’t have access to you 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 the second psychological wound that rejection creates:

2.) Floods us with anger – Anger can show up very differently for each individual. I’m not really an angry individual so my anger isn’t to kick the wall or slam the door but it manifests in thinking and saying hurtful things to myself about myself or blaming others like, how could he say that or do that?

He’s being a jerk. It’s easy to feel the tug to want to blame and deflect our emotional pain onto someone else, to make someone else a villain. When you call a friend to vent about how they’re acting or showing up or things like, can you believe they said that? Did that?

Anger is a secondary emotion which means that it doesn’t come first. It’s only after we feel a core feeling that we create anger to mask that initial emotion. There’s two primary emotions: Love and Fear. Anger certainly isn’t coming from love so then…fear.

It’s easier to be angry at someone, towards someone than to accept our own fears and scarcity thoughts. “if they’re rejecting me then where does that leave me?” Fear

“If they don’t like me anymore then maybe that means that I’m not likable” Fear

“If they don’t call me back then that means that here’s another example of why I’m not enough” Fear

“I invested so much time and money into this relationship only to have them leave, what the heck?!” Anger but really deep down it’s, “and now what? I tried everything and now I’m alone again” Fear

It’s easier to mask the core hurt as anger because anger is charged. It takes the energy from the rejection and releases it taking our attention away from the deep-down core fear but the problem is, it doesn’t take away the fear. It just postpones it.

The best way to work through this is to make it math. What I mean by that is to only stick to the facts and leave all the drama, the interpretations out of it.

When you make it math it takes the charge out of it. It’s bland and neutral. It takes it from, “They’re rejecting me and that means I’m not lovable – something is wrong with me” to “They said words and now what?”

The circumstances in your life are neutral meaning they don’t mean anything until you place a thought on them and why would you want to think thoughts that create intense anger and fear for you?

A thought that’s really helpful here is, “I thought it was going to look like that, I guess not, now what?”

“I thought we were having fun and that we were going to spend more time together. I guess not, now what?”

That now what isn’t an invitation to bash yourself or the other party. It’s looking at it as if it’s math – now what?

Now what do I want to do? Maybe you want to feel sad – sad is different than fearful, discouraged, and deflated. Those all stem from a hurtful story. But you probably want to choose sad. “It’s a bummer they’re missing this. I’m super fun. We could have had an amazing time together.” Be sad about that. That IS a bummer but notice, it doesn’t mean anything negative about you. That’s the key. 

Compassion for yourself is the kindest thing you can offer to you in the face of rejection and always really.

I thought it was going to look like that, I guess not, now what?

See how it takes the intense emotion away from you? It can hurt, it can be sad but it doesn’t have to take over your life or mean terrible things about you or about them.

The third wound rejection can create is that it

3.) Erodes our confidence and self-esteem

What I find so interesting and deeply troublesome about rejection is what we do with it. More succinctly, what we make it mean about us. We instantly turn inward and start making all kinds of negative claims about ourselves. I’m a failure. I’m a loser. Their actions, preferences, and tastes somehow mean something about me and my worth as a human being, right? And we’ve all done this – and it can be devastating. 

Dr. Guy Winch in his Ted Talk related this account: 

“I once worked with this woman who, after 20 years of marriage and an extremely ugly divorce, was finally ready for her first date. She had met this guy online, and he seemed nice and he seemed successful, and most importantly, he seemed really into her. So she was very excited, she bought a new dress, and they met at an upscale New York City bar for a drink.

Ten minutes into the date, the man stands up and says, “I’m not interested,” and walks out.

Rejection is extremely painful. The woman was so hurt she couldn’t move. All she could do was call a friend.

Here’s what the friend said: “Well, what do you expect? You have big hips, you have nothing interesting to say. Why would a handsome, successful man like that ever go out with a loser like you?”

Shocking, right, that a friend could be so cruel? But it would be much less shocking if I told you it wasn’t the friend who said that. It’s what the woman said to herself. And that’s something we all do, especially after a rejection.

We all start thinking of all our faults and all our shortcomings, what we wish we were, what we wish we weren’t. We call ourselves names. Maybe not as harshly, but we all do it. And it’s interesting that we do, because our self-esteem is already hurting.

Why would we want to go and damage it even further? We wouldn’t make a physical injury worse on purpose. You wouldn’t get a cut on your arm and decide, “Oh! I know — I’m going to take a knife and see how much deeper I can make it.”

Hearing it like this it sounds ridiculous and at the same time, relatable, right? So here’s the thing when it comes to rejection in the moment you won’t be able to do thought work and the more you try the harder that negativity bias in your brain will want to yell even louder how this is somehow your fault and all kinds of other negative, nasty things. Instead, I want you to do something that sounds counterintuitive – I want you to lean into the feeling.

Most of us don’t really even know what rejection feels like – we just know the pain that our thinking about rejection feels like and that, we’ve already established feels quite literally painful – but the actual feeling, do you really know what it feels like? Have you allowed yourself to not spin in thought drama but really just allowed yourself to sit with the feeling itself?

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.

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. 

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.

4.) destabilizes our fundamental feeling of belonging.

We all need to belong. It’s in our wiring. Connection is the biggest predictor to longevity in life and overall happiness so it makes sense that a disruption of belonging or a threat to our belonging would feel at risk in these moments. 

It’s so important to come from a place of compassion and understanding. Talk to yourself as if you were someone you were responsible for because you are. You need to feel validation and accepted but we often forget that we can give these necessary feelings to ourselves. 

In fact, we’re the only ones that can give that to ourselves – it has to be you. Find holes in the negative narrative. When your brain wants to say things like, “this always happens!” 

Question it – does this “always” happen? Is it true? Can you really know that it’s true?

It’s so important to step back and see what’s happening from a much larger perspective. There are over 8 billion people on the planet, it’s not that you’re not lovable or that something is wrong with you, it’s more like, these aren’t your people and let’s try looking elsewhere.

I love this quote that says, “You can be the ripest juiciest peach and there are still some that hate peaches”

It’s not about you. The most common reasons it’s not a match isn’t because something is wrong with you or that you’re not lovable. It’s because the other person has different preferences, different thoughts, different expectations for who they’re looking for – it’s not because you have any character flaws.

Repeat this again and again as long as you have to: It’s not about me.

Their words, thoughts, feelings, actions – it’s not about me.

We don’t need to be afraid of rejection.

Oftentimes 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. They don’t need to like you – what matters is if you like you. 

Be open to feeling all the feels it’s 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!

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