On Rejection

Despite all of the self-help in the world, it feels like a monumental task to accept rejection when it happens (and in many cases, before it happens!). When we cannot internally handle the idea of rejection alone, we do things that sabotage our happiness.

Self-Sabotage Activities
a) Avoid the responsibilities that may result in rejection.
b) Blame others or their life situations when we get rejected.
c) Start to believe that we must also be rejected by others as some sort of core personality problem. Believing you are destined to only belong to certain groups or ideas.

When you are rejected by someone or a group of people, it can feel earth-shattering. Please know that you are not alone and that others have been there.
The two biggest rejections in my life were the following:

1) Ghosted by someone with whom I thought I had a great connection.
2) Sharply rebuked by my professors and peers for failing to attend a large conference.

These two events significantly impacted seven years of my life because I did not have the coping mechanisms or the insight to process them. In some way, I believed I was owed the interaction of the person because we connected so well. I believed that I was justified in abandoning my responsibilities because of my own struggle. The truth is, I did not set my boundaries with people and I became a person who crossed the boundaries of other people. My intentions were good, but they were not aligned with my actions.

The beauty of rejection is that you are invited to do some reflection. This is a painful process and it can cause a lot of defense mechanisms to kick in before we are able to grow.

Examples of defense mechanisms:
a) “What a jerk, how dare they reject me?!”
b) “There is something wrong with that person. She’s that upset because I forgot her birthday? People forget mine all of the time. She needs to get over it.”
c) How can I impress them so they’ll acknowledge me?
d) Doing everything in your power to become the person that you think they want to see.
e) “They should have known better than to trust me with this; I’ve always been an idiot.”
f) “It’s not my fault I didn’t show up; so what if I told them I would? Life changes man.”
g) Choose to gossip or engage in passive-aggressive behaviors to belittle people who rejected you.

h) Choosing to attribute all of another’s success to one thing (e.g., great parents, wealth, where they were born, who they know, born talented, etc).

These are all ways we avoid accepting responsibility and hurt ourselves as well as others. Defense mechanisms start to manifest as reactions you have to yourself when you do well. For example, you will think your successes are just products of luck and pre-determination. The cycle of self-destruction continues until you release them in favor of honoring your own work, accountability, and consistency.

The good news is that defense mechanisms are totally normal and everyone does it. The key is to catch yourself getting caught up in these defenses so you can start the process of accepting rejection and being accountable for your own reactions.

Turn your fear of rejection into a learning opportunity. The world will unfold in accordance as you hone your coping mechanisms. Your relationship with yourself will feel lighter, friendlier, and others will notice that within you. You will begin to honor your everyone for their achievements. You will not feel the need to sulk or try to justify why they do not deserve it. You will just be happy to see them happy.

Rejection is tough; defense mechanisms are a result of insecurity and internal boundary problems. These are normal things to experience. Work towards collaborating with people instead of competing. Look forward to all of the wonderful things you will do when you allow yourself to be happy in spite of rejection.

Warm regards,
Kennie R. Cannady

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