Rejection hurts like hell, whether it’s big or small. You’re just never prepared for it, no matter how many times you go through it. Each time feels like the first time you’re experiencing it.
Even when I am merely recalling some of the rejections I’ve experienced, the feeling almost feels tangible still. This is apparently how our brains are wired. A study done a couple of years back found that the same areas of our brain become activated when we experience rejection as when we experience physical pain.
Well, that explains why I always feel like my heart is being ripped out of my chest when I am rejected.
Rejection can cause damage to our mood and self-esteem. But the greatest damage usually comes from self-inflicted rejection. Do you know that saying: “We are our own worst critics”? Truly, no one can reject us the way we can reject ourselves.
Self-rejection is the act of convincing yourself that you lack or are not good enough for something (or someone), and therefore, you withdraw the will even to try.
What exactly does self-rejection look like? Let’s put it into perspective. Let’s say you’re looking for a job, and you go through job ads and immediately as you’re reading the job requirements, you tell yourself that you would NEVER get that job because you’re under-qualified or aren’t good enough for it. You don’t bother applying for the job because you already know you won’t get it. That’s self-rejection.
Here’s another example, you like someone, whether as a partner or a friend, but you convince yourself that they would never be or hang out with someone like you. You spiral and call yourself many things, such as you’re a loser, or you don’t dress well enough, don’t speak well enough, don’t have enough of the qualities that they seem to have, and would expect you to have, to want to be with you. And so, you don’t even approach them with the proposition of starting a friendship or a relationship.
The commonality in both these examples is that you’ve already decided that you’ll fail and that there’s no point in bothering yourself when you will be rejected anyway. But the challenge here is you’ve not even given yourself, or the other person, a chance to look at your resume or proposal to see if they might be interested. Because of that, you won’t ever know whether you would have been accepted – as you didn’t even try.
Self-rejection can manifest itself in many different ways. It’s important to recognise that it only encourages you to avoid taking action that could positively impact your life. As someone who self-rejects a lot, I guarantee you that whatever it is that you tell yourself cannot be farther from the truth. I have no doubt that I’ve lost really good opportunities due to self-rejection. But no good can come from dwelling on those; the only thing I can do now is focus on new opportunities that are yet to come my way and make sure that I give myself a chance.
If you identify with this concept and wonder what you can do to overcome it, stay with me as I have a few tips:
- The first thing to do is reflect on the moments where you self-rejected and try to identify what could be the root cause. When you know the why, you’re able to recognise when you do it again. This can help you turn things around and rewrite the narrative for yourself.
- Acknowledge that you’re your worst critic and that people don’t view you the way you think they do. People don’t sit there silently judging you as brutally as you think they do.
- Remove people from the pedestal you’ve put them on. We often make the mistake of thinking that other people succeed because they’re not us, not as dumb as us or more skilled and talented than us. But there’s no such thing. Often people are succeeding because they work hard and go after opportunities that come their way. You can succeed too if you allow yourself the chance. Open doors for yourself by saying “yes” and giving it a try instead of taking no action because you think you’ll fail.
- Speak positively about yourself, to yourself and to others. Acknowledge that you’re a person with thoughts and feelings that matter. You belong where you want to be and are more than capable of navigating that world, so go there and live your best life.
- Journal about yourself. Start by creating a list of good things about yourself, from your personality to your skills. Write about what you achieved when you took action. This will be a good reminder when you feel self-rejection creep in again.
Self-rejection will make you miss out on the joy of life and the opportunities others experience in their careers and personal lives. All you need to do is give it a try and see how it goes. Life is about trying time and time again until you get to where you want to be. You can do it; I am rooting for you.
Tell us: Do you self-reject? When you think about it, do you realise why you do it?
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