THE PAIN OF REJECTION
By Reydon Stanford
The word "rejection" actually means to "throw something away." With that in mind, what is the term
for something thrown away? Trash. No wonder rejection is such a painful experience! When someone rejects
us, it leaves us feeling like we are ‘trash' in their eyes; something of no further value and that leaves us feeling
extremely hurt. How could that ‘not' hurt?
Sadly, within our society, there are those
who seem as good at throwing people away as they are at skipping nameless rocks across a pond. Moving from one ‘favorite
friend' to another or dumping one love for another, it's all "part of the game," in the selfish minds of people
who have little regard for the feelings or lives of others. As long as they are happy and excited, any damage done to
others is all part of the game.
The inspiration for rejecting someone is selfishness or in some cases, the inability to love any more for whatever reason.
This shows up in the story of Adam and Eve, just after the creation. Eve, for whatever reason, listens to the serpent
assure her that she doesn't need God...she can be "like God," all on her own. All she had to do was throw
God under the bus and take a bite of fruit.
Ever since, some people seem to carry the same mindset as Eve...believing that "what I want," is much more important
than what is good or right. This sets the stage for massive amounts of rejection. In psychological thinking...rejection
is the ‘action,' being rejected is the ‘response.' Being "in control" always feels better than
being "out of control," and being rejected is out of our control.
WHY REJECTION HURTS
There are close to seven billion people living on the Earth. Why then does it hurt so badly for us to be rejected
by just a few of them within our life-time? Doesn't it make sense that we would just say, "Oh well, I have billions
of others who will love and value me," and go off seeking someone else to fill the void? That's the problem...human
emotions don't always make sense. They are not cut and dried like that. As one person said, "Love does not
play by the proper rules of moral society."
Like all emotionally painful experiences, the level of pain involved in rejection is based upon "who" in our life
is rejecting us. For example: I might feel bummed out by being rejected for a job, but I can get over that pretty
easily. However, if someone very close to me...let's say one of my sons said, "Dad, I no longer want to have anything
to do with you. In my mind, from this day forward you do not exist." That would obviously be devastating
based upon the value I give to that relationship.
On a larger scale, being rejected by society as a whole can be equally painful. When someone is ‘cast out' of
society as a bad person, (whether or not it is true), it can be devastating. This is why such things as true racism,
(regardless of which direction it comes from or is pointed to), rejection because of religious beliefs, sexual orientation,
social status, financial status, education, or location, can leave humans feeling...sub-human. No one could explain
this pain any more vividly than the lepers who rotted away in the leper colonies of history, rejected by their families and
society. I believe the story of "The Scarlet Letter," was written to show the de-humanizing effects of those
who can't or don't live up to societies standards, but that is just my opinion.
The main reason rejection hurts is because is it a value issue. When we are rejected we feel like what
we had to offer as a person has been studied, appraised and rejected as invaluable. This, in turn, can cause us to feel
a variety of unpleasant emotions from anger, wrath, revengeful thinking, confusion, sadness and grief. It can leave
us wondering what we did wrong, what we could have done to be better and a host of other unanswerable questions. It
can also cause us to question our own self-worth, and in most cases...leave our self-esteem in tatters. Just ask the
model who is her twenties, is being suddenly overlooked for younger women.
When it comes to intimate relationships, such as marriage, the pain of rejection is magnified and not only painful but also
potentially dangerous. History tells us the horror stories of ex-wives and husbands who have been violently murdered
because a rejected spouse lost control of their emotions through the enormous pain of rejection. Many suicides can also
be attributed to people unable to bear the emotional pain of rejection. This is evident in one suicide note which read:
"It's not that I want to die...it just hurts too much to live."
Often-times, rejection comes as a result of our own actions. Many alcoholics, drug addicts, sex addicts, porn addicts
or mentally ill people have known the depths of despair that comes with being rejected by family members or friends that no
longer have the capacity to bear the embarrassment and pain that comes with the actions and the behaviors these diseases bring.
In these cases the despair can seem even worse, because the rejection is nothing more than a confirmation of what the person
has been feeling about their self for a long period of time. (Obviously, mental illness or brain injury is not usually
a result of a person's own actions).
Regardless of why we are rejected, the pain is still intense and can be long term. So is there anything a person can
do to recover from the pain of rejection? Thankfully, the answer is yes.
One of the first things we need to understand about rejection is...it happens to everyone. Although that might not seem
like a comforting thought at first, think about it this way: If everyone has been rejected at times during their lives
and KEPT LIVING, you can too!!! Sadly, rejection is a part of the human experience and because you are human, you must
eat of the same bread.
rejection teaches us to be very careful about placing our own value into the hands of other people, so in that respect...rejection
is a great teacher. When we place who we are and what we're worth solely into the hands of those we choose to love,
we are taking a huge risk that they will see how fragile our value is and take very good care of it. This is worse than a
dangerous prospect...it is almost certain to fail at some point. In all honesty...placing our value into the hands of
others is more than they can bear.
Thirdly, spirituality plays a very important role in our own self worth. If our self-worth is grounded in the fact that
we were created by ‘Someone' whom cared deeply about us, we can fall back onto that truth and feel comforted.
Interestingly, Jesus spent a great deal of time speaking to His disciples about this topic, trying to provide them comfort.
Saying things such as: "I will NEVER leave you, nor forsake you," and "I go to prepare a place for you, so
that where I am, you may be also," Jesus was using psychological words meant to bring comfort and reassure the disciples
of their value.
is important to know that "anything of value we lose, we will grieve over." Technically, the larger the loss
we experience...the longer the grief will take. Grieving is a natural part of the human experience and believe it or
not...is a very honorable part of life. When we are saddened at the loss of someone we love, we are legitimizing that
loss through our grief. Although it might sound brave for a friend or family member to ask you not to cry at their funeral,
your tears are an honor to your love for them. Loss hurts...deeply. When someone rejects your love...that doesn't
make your love cheapened or devalued...it shows they didn't deserve it.
Recognize that who you are and the love you have to give is your greatest gift. If it is rejected it is a loss on the
part of the person doing the rejecting...not you. Recover your love and offer it to someone who will treasure you, honor
you and desire your love.
Copyright by Reydon Stanford