Rejection As Redirection, Mastering Mindset
Updated: Sep 24
Rejection is shit-house.
Gutting. The worst. I could probably leave the above statements right there & just call it a day on this piece about rejection because, really, rejection sucks big time. But, if I left the above as is & let it simmer on the stove like old garlic &, I reckon we’d start to feel yuck & maybe even a bit sick. Sooooo... the perennial optimist in me has other plans (plans that are heart-full & helpful). Here’s where I would like to share them with you.
I’d like to start by being super open about this piece. If this helps even one person to reframe the kick-in-the-gut feeling we get when someone or some group rejects us away from heaviness to a sense of lightness, then it’s been worth the thought, time, & soul I’ve put in to thinking about it. If I believe anything in this world, I believe that some things are meant for us & others are not. What is meant to be & what is not meant to be isn’t always cut & dry. We don’t get a planning sheet from the Universe or a check-list from Momma Nature to direct us towards a predetermined path. Nope, mostly we hang on for dear life & hope for the best. But, what if there’s a beautiful middle ground. A Limbo of Limitless Potential that opens up when we start to become super in-tune with both the world around us & the world within us? Tolle might call this presence. Glennon Doyle might call this discovering your inner cheetah. And Brené might simply frame it as embracing the suck. But whatever you call it – when we set our own expectations & are able to be malleable with them, we’re able to be much more resilient over time. Here’s how. I first came across the words “rejection as redirection” only a few weeks ago & they stopped me in my tracks. After reading all I could about the idea & falling down a rabbit hole of awesomely inspirational TED Talks, I logged off of all of my devices & went for a walk to the ocean to stew/ simmer/ sauté. Walking is my meditation in motion, so focussing in on redirection dressed up as rejection (& vice versa) for a few hours, really got me thinking about how to approach an age-old, hard-wired feeling in a new way.
Let’s face it, all of us are hard-wired to fit into a community. We’re social creatures. Our minds, bodies, & souls need to inherently connect to thrive. If we go back to the times of our ancestors, people needed to fit into & be accepted by their villages, family units, &/or tribes to survive. And, whilst time has surely marched on, our basic need to be accepted has remained intact.
2020 has been one helluva year though. Rejection in a bazillion forms is seemingly par for the proverbial course for each of us on the daily. Whether they’re big, small, slow-burn, quick-moving, or even mostly imperceptible, rejections are coming in thick & fast from all areas of our lives, minds, & the interwebs. And social media is being a real jerk about all of it by wiring our brains to want more, & more, & more of the stuff that gives us both pleasure (though false), & pain (very real).
During a time of huge global upheaval, our souls are undergoing an upheaval as well. Whether you’ve lost your job & haven’t heard back from a single company about the hundreds of applications you’ve submitted, or your BFF has stopped looking at your Instagram stories, or your marriage hasn’t stood the pressure test of #lockdown2020 – we’re all experiencing a myriad of emotions in & around rejection every day.
And, science tells us in no uncertain terms that all of this rejection HURTS.
As in, actually, hurts.
As we spend time at home for work, play, family, school, & then some to protect ourselves from a virus that is raging out of control – & it is becoming more & more apparent that our attention is the most sought-after currency on the planet today. And, when we spend our currency on someone or some platform or some business that doesn’t reciprocate… gah. Yep, it hurts.
Our brains treat broken hearts, unrealised expectations, a lack of love hearts on a social media post, & a romantic partner shunning us in the same way that it treats physical pain. So, now that our “communities” have expanded to include people we’ve never met who we interact with on platforms where established social norms aren’t established & are constantly moving & evolving – we’re basically a rolling buffet of untethered emotional energy just waiting to be set alight.
So, here’s the optimistic part. What if we all looked at rejection as a redirection & started re-wiring our brains to see the opportunities inherent in not getting exactly what we think we want & needed every time we go out into the world to get a certain thing?
What if, instead, we were able to practice a sort of emotional first aid on ourselves in any & all situations that helped to lessen the cognitive & emotional dissonance of real & perceived rejections so that we start building up resilience in the face of hardships?
Well, have I got some tips for you, my friend!
As someone who has been (& still is) being rejected on the daily by someone, some thing, or some group – the four ideas below have really helped to centre me in a place of self-confidence rather than self-pity, of hopefulness instead of helplessness, & in kindness instead of competitiveness with others.
I hope you get as much out of these simple steps as I have over the years:
TURNING REJECTION INTO REDIRECTION:
Gratitude, FTW! I know, I know, I know... hear me out here. Gratitude is awesome. It’s centring. And, it’s something we know we need to be able to walk through the world free of expectations when it comes to how we live, what we strive for, & who we are. Also, gratitude is a harbinger for growth & a death-knell to the pain that comparison brings. One of the simplest things I’ve ever done long-term to rewire myself for optimism & opportunity, is that I keep a gratitude journal. It takes a wee while to get up & humming & writing on the daily – but the good news about a gratitude journal is that is doesn’t have to be longform. All you need are 3 bullet-points. 3 short things. 3 thoughts. Or, if you want to, write long. Some days I write three words like “coffee” or “sunshine” or “family” & on other days I write mini novellas. The best advice I have for getting hooked on gratitude journaling is to go with your own flow at the moment & in the moment.
Practice Emotional First Aid If we cut ourselves or see another person in need of first aid, we do whatever we can to stem the flow of bleeding, or tears, or whatever needs tending to & mending. When it comes to our hearts & our emotions though, most especially in the workplace, we’re taught to deflect & deny. I’m not sure where the rule was written that we all needed to become cold, unemotive automatons – but it’s a stupid rule. We should all vote to throw it out of the 8th story office window & watch it shatter on the ground below us. More than ever, now is the time to check in on each other. Included in “each other” is ourselves, too. If you’re anything like me, you’re a-okay with drying other people’s tears. You’re able to laugh, cry, & listen to a colleague or friend’s heavy-hearted woes. But, when it comes to yourself – you’re not kind or patient with watching the waters of emotion flow through you. First & foremost we must practice compassion & kindness to ourselves & each other. This is the most powerful tool any human will ever possess to turn rejection into a beautiful gift of opportunity, re-focus, & redirection. Log-off & Connect IRL OHMYGAWD & Jesus H Roosevelt Sweet Baby Jesus can we all just take a moment to stop & smell the daisies without a screen all up in our grills? The science is here, the stats are real, & we are all part of a giant experiment of algorithmic tracking. We are our attention & intentions. We go where they flow. And, if we’re giving all of our time & energy to e-mails, meetings, pinging notifications, Instagram newsfeeds, Facebook ponderings, & news sites that are all built to hack our humanity & rewire our brains – then when do we get time to simply be. Recently, like many of us who work in digital & social media (& even more of us who don’t), I watched “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix. Whilst I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know about the addictive nature of social media & digital platforms that’re alrogithmically driven, the different storytelling mechanic (fictional storyline mixed with documentary) hit me right in the feels & in the brain. I’ve taken all social media apps off of my phone & have started being much more cognisant about the time I spend online each day. My goal? To spend at least half of the (on average) six hours I was spending on my phone each day on things like noticing how leaves dance on the wind, having deep conversations without distraction, & focussing on one project or task at a time. Here’s to logging off. To coffee shops (wear your mask until Covid is under control, team!), long walks, & digging deeper by making a concerted effort to log-off more often. It’ll change your world & you’ll really start to feel the direction in which the universe is tugging at you to follow! Day-by-Day, Moment by Moment When it all comes down to it, mindset it everything for all of us. When we are aware of our feelings, emotions, expectations, & can stay in the moment – then we’re able to redirect our energy flow. Presence is a novelty for so many people these days. Knowing how you’re spending your time & changing any habits that don’t feed into your goals or passions will be a boon to creating & living a life you fall in love with daily. And, with presence we’re able to see a moment for what it’s worth & build muscle strong enough to resist an internal monologue that leaves us feeling hurt, rejected, or turned away from what we’re working towards.
So, there you have it. Rejection as redirection in practice, in presence, in palatable pieces.
I still struggle with riding waves of change like a badass surfer of the soul, but I’m getting back up & on my board faster & faster after wiping out.
Here’s to you. Here’s to me. Here’s to all of us doing our best to see the best in the world while we’re here.
PS check this article out, it’s a fast & impactful read: