The Beauty of Rejection

Have you ever noticed in yourself or others, that a person who struggles at something such as job searching or perhaps a phase of dating after breaking up, eventually seems to give up, and in doing so, seems to naturally land what they had tried so hard to get by a lot of effort previously?

Perhaps you were frustrated by seeing a person who is effortlessly good at some skill you’re working really hard at, thinking it’s unfair. “If only I was naturally good with people, I’d have an easier life too!” the “victim” cries.

Often the act of many rejections and failures can lead to a person giving up, and another who had the same experiences, can have been rejected so many times they simply can’t be bothered to feel bad about each rejection anymore. The latter has accomplished a type of freedom.

I. Closer To Reality

What’s really going on when a person gets rejected? In the case of a job interview, it is the belief of the interviewer that the person would not have been a good fit for the job. There was an incompatibility between the position and the person. After a romantic date, it is fairly identical. There is not a compatibility between what each person was seeking out of their romantic notions.

The most common belief after such a rejection is “if only I had done x, y, z, it may have gone differently.” You may be right, but you didn’t do x, y, z, though in reality, for all you know, x, y, z may have made things even worse.

It’s ultimately a delusion, you can’t really know what influence that particular change of action would have had. You’re also entirely free to try it out next time you’re in that situation and see for yourself what really happens. This is naturally how humans accomplish things: you try something, it doesn’t go as you expected, you try something else, perhaps it’s a bit closer to your expected, and you repeat until you reach success.

II. A Mindset Based In Reality

When it comes to taking the most beneficial and most realistic look at these types of situations, it is to live through the experience from the point of view of “what is really going on?”.

If a man or woman rejects you after you took it as far as you could, be proud of yourself. It is actually far better for you to be direct and find out right away whether the other person is available in the way you want them to be, then to spend months pretending something else and finding out how much harsher a rejection is after six months. It is far riskier to wait then to be able to say “Ah, she wasn’t interested, I’m glad I found out!”. Not knowing is far more painful, and the rejection comes much more sharply when it is delayed.

There is no type of rejection that cannot be seen in this way. It can feel painful because you imagine yourself feeling “I am opening myself up, please accept me”, but this kind of validation seeking isn’t attractive to an interviewer or a potential partner. Instead, “I am going to find out if this job or this person and I are compatible” is a much better perspective, and much closer to reality.

III. It Is Already There

Regardless of where you’re at in whatever you’re trying to accomplish, there is a perfect fit somewhere. A company that is looking for a person just like you. A man or woman who would find the qualities you dislike about yourself as unimportant, or even attractive. The most important thing to be is genuinely honest with yourself. If you’re trying to put on an act in order to guarantee validation and avoid rejection, it creates an awkward atmosphere, and it is much more likely you’ll be rejected because others sense something disingenuous about you.

In knowing there is a perfect fit for the honest expression of yourself, you will instead see rejection for what it really is, an incompatibility. Successful steps in the process to finding the perfect fit. You’ll be able to smile and say “okay, what’s next?” to yourself each time it happens.

End Game Concept #1: Profound Indifference

“Real nobility is based on scorn, courage, and profound indifference.” – Albert Camus

In this new series of posts, (they have their own category and everything), I’m going to be covering what I call end game concepts. These are mindsets and concepts that are a sort of ‘end goal’. These are the ones you can use all the way until your grave, then maybe into your next life too.

Allow me to save you the trouble of your initial objection “profound indifference” sounds like an excuse not to care about stuff! That wouldn’t be very “profound” though, would it?

Here is an excerpt from the spiritual teacher Krishnamurti to help explain it a bit better:

Indifference comes into being when you listen to that noise with no resistance, go with that noise, ride on that noise infinitely. Then that noise does not affect you, does not pervert you, does not make you indifferent. Then you listen to every noise in the world – the noise of your children, of your wife, of the birds, the noise of the chatter the politicians make – , you listen to it completely with indifference and therefore with understanding.

Profound indifference is to be unshaken by the events of what you are observing, of what is going on inside of you or outside of you. You may take action against injustice, but your core, your real self, remains still. You did not do it because you are reacting, because they threw you off your state, but because you remained “unshaken”, you were able to respond with your full set of resources.

A clear mind, an unbiased and non-judgmental mind, one which sees the full situation for what it really is. Imagine how your perspective of the world and every situation may be then. This is the true way to live authentically in each moment.

Lets look at the following real world example, and then look at it from a reactive position, and one of profound indifference.

You’re on a first date. Perhaps you just came out of a long relationship and you haven’t gone on a date in a long time, and you want things to go well. You really, really want things to go well. Right now you’re exploring again and not really sure what you’re looking for in the short or mid-term. You know you need time to take everything in, and see what the world has to offer you right now.

The first date goes well, and you even got a kiss at the end, it seemed to be great fun for both of you. You really like the other person, and you have a feeling they like you too. You move onto a second date, half way through, they ask “where is this going? I need to know before we continue.”

Things got a bit intense, a little fast, didn’t they? Your gut reaction may be based “well, we’ve had a really great time, I really like this girl, and it seems like if I want to keep going at this, I’ll need to commit to her”. The risk is you rush into something out of fear of hurting the other person, and end up dragging something out because you couldn’t be honest with where you were.

Now let’s look at the “profound indifference” approach. You don’t let the current situation decide your response. You think back to what your situation is, what’s going on, and what you’re looking for. You accept that you aren’t ready to commit to anything serious yet, and you’re still trying to figure things out. Yet you also know you really like her, and want to see where things go, and as such, you respond something like this:

“I’ve had a blast with you so far, I’d love to keep seeing you and see where things go. I’d be interested to know how you feel about all this so far too. I just need to let you know that since just coming out of another long relationship, I’m still in an exploration phase right now. I’m not sure how much I can commit to any one relationship right now. If you’re not cool with it, I can understand, feel free to take time about it to decide what you want to do. We can keep seeing each other until you find someone to commit with as well. At this point I’m happy to explore whatever happens. I’d certainly love to keep seeing you based off our time so far though, I just needed to let you know where I’m at”. 

Some readers may see this as flakey and an inability to commit, but I’m certain they would agree a fully heart-driven answer of authenticity and what a person is really thinking, is much more valuable then a reaction in the moment that will sound good now, but be tragic and painful later.

Lastly, you may say “well that sounds all well and good, but I’m not sure I can do that kind of calm and honest answer with so many emotions up in the air”. You’re right, right now, that may be difficult. Don’t wait until that moment though. Practice it in each moment. With each choice you make. In every situation you are. Check in with yourself, notice where your biases are, how you may be compromising yourself to make others feel good or to avoid some other pain. Notice when you are reacting to a situation instead of deciding what you actually want to do.

Don’t wait for the most stressful or intense situation to start practicing “profound indifference”, do it every chance you get. It will take time, but end game concepts are like super powers, and they are worth taking the time to develop.

Relationship talk based off the teachings of the great lifestyle and no-BS guru James Marshall.

The Beginning And The End

It’s an interesting feeling completing a cycle of the heroes journey, everything in the real world is the same as when I left it, but inside me, it’s like everything is both exactly the same and entirely different. – Alex Dirdara

Behold my level of modesty in quoting myself in the opening quote. Yet it’s a special occasion. As of the day of this posting, July 25th 2016, it is just past the two year mark of when I entered this journey on July 24th 2014. The events of my first post climaxed on that fateful day on July 24th, the one where enough happened in just the right way to spark my awakening.

In two short years, I’ve gotten a job I love, working with wonderful people. I’ve built up a social circle of inspiring friends. I’ve tried dozens of new things, and continue to do so to this day. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity, and am so grateful in each moment that passes. I’ve even managed to take part in some grand circumstances I would have never dreamed of before.

It feels fake to look back two years ago, and yet I don’t feel I’m a different person at all. I’ve merely eliminated a lot of the illusions that crippled me throughout the years. It was a process of unlearning that continues unto today. It would be boring if it ever really ended too.

So what was the single greatest thing that’s happened you may ask dear reader? *drum roll* … It was the discovery of space. There is a very practical side to this, as well as a very spiritual aspect too.

To start with the practical, I’ve found infinite applications of space. That is, to leave space when a loved one needs it. To leave space when you’re on a first date, and notice how it provides a platform for the other person to contribute, instead of simply running through a list of all your greatest accomplishments. To see the confidence that comes from taking up space, both externally and internally. To feel you truly deserve to occupy that space. Perhaps that last one was a little more spiritual.

In spirituality, it is the discovery of both the space inside of me, and the space on the outside. The space that is consciousness. The one that is not worthy or unworthy. Not a loser or a world champion. It isn’t concerned whether you get the girl or the job. It simply is space. A space that can be filled with anything you want, emptied, and then filled again with something else. It doesn’t mind. It doesn’t have to be so esoteric. Consider when you break out of a cycle of thinking, anxieties, fears. When you sit there and just embody yourself, taking life a breath at a time. Do you sense how where previously there was worries and fears, there is now a new kind of empty space? Don’t take my word for it, try it now and find out for yourself.

To me, this space of consciousness that pervades me, and everything else, is the closest thing I see to a god. That’s because nobody has to teach it, it doesn’t take time to learn, it can’t be studied at all. It’s simply always there, just sometimes forgotten. You don’t have to force yourself to remember or imagine its there. It’s there when we let go of the drama in our lives that pretends its relevant and important.

I like to pay attention to the lyrics in songs, I’ve found quite a bit of inspiration for different parts of my life in them. Among the many inspirations for this song was Kanye West’s Everything I Am, where the Hook contains the line “Now everything I’m not made me everything I am”. From the day we receive our names, we start attaching things to our identities. The space you are, is none of those things though. When you realize you aren’t any of the labels you place upon yourself, everything you are, is space. From there, possibilities start to manifest themselves in whole new ways.

 

 

The Fine Line Between Holding On And Moving On

Blessed are the hearts that can bend; they shall never be broken. – Albert Camus

When it comes to life decisions, whether one wants to end a long term relationship, or even a marriage, change careers, change cities, or anything else that may dictate a change in the whole flow of life, there seems to be a fine line between holding on and moving on. It’s true even for lower scale life choices that may only effect you on a smaller scale.

When it comes to holding on, waiting for a situation to improve, it commonly feels like the safer choice. It’s the one your mind and habits are most familiar with, the idea is simply “well this is bad, but what if things are worse on the other side?”.

On the other side, if you choose to move on, there is always the risk of giving up too early. Did you fully commit to improving things? Were you just playing at it timidly because you prematurely decided to end or change things because it was easier then whatever you had to do for recovery?

There are lessons to be learned from choosing both paths, regardless of the situation. Unfortunately there will never be a right answer, and no article on the internet can magically help you create the conditions when one is true over the other. It wouldn’t be a fine line if it was more obvious then that.

And yet, there are ways to help you make the choice that is likely to benefit you the most. If you feel you’ve stopped growing in a certain environment, or both you and your partner have stopped growing in a relationship, that can be a clear sign it’s time to move on. It may sound scary to “start over”, but it’s the you with everything you learned from the last experience that goes into the new one. You may be starting fresh, but you aren’t returning to 0 and then working your way back up, you’re starting where you were at the end before, and reaching new heights.

You’ve somehow managed to deal with all your life experiences thus far. You’ve dealt with all kinds of varied experiences. You’re not special for it, it just seems to be a capacity of humans. If you’re worried you didn’t hold on long enough, and gave up too soon, or if you keep trying to solve something that’s not solvable, there is nothing wrong with that. You’ve got that in common with every other human around. Yet, if you’re aware that something needs to change, see what steps you can take immediately to see how that would play out. At worst, you’ll enter a new situation with all the experience you’ve gained so far. If you “made a mistake”, you’ll carry brand new knowledge and experience going forward.

The Beauty of Rock Bottom: An Introduction

The Beauty of Rock Bottom: An Introduction

My eyes continued staring at the pen that I was hoping would somehow save me. I was flipping it around in my hand as it continued to hold my gaze, the minutes passed by as if they were hours. Seven minutes later, the date was over. It would be the first of a dozen or so dates that night. As I mumbled a few questions like “Have you ever done this before?”, never once looking her in the eyes, I could only assume I wasn’t cut out for dating in the first place.

Several speed dating events, and over 100 women later, with a dozen online dates in-between, I was finally convinced that I was simply broken and unlovable. Unsure why I would be allowed to live on this planet in this state by whatever entity created the universe, I questioned whether there was a reason to bother going on. What was I without a “second half?”. I was already 25, how is it that I could not get this sorted?

You see dear reader, I spent my childhood and a good chunk of adulthood morbidly obese, peaking out at a lovely 400 pounds. Perhaps not the best reason to avoid dating, the self-loathing and hours spent on video games were a successful distraction from it. After a few years of calorie counting, dieting and exercising, the weight situation was improved at least.

ThenAndNow

It was at this point that I finally moved out from my parents home and began enjoying the luxuries of doing everything on my own. In addition to going to a job I wasn’t particularly enjoying, and without a girlfriend, I spent my time contemplating how everyone seemed to be getting on with life except for me.

The years I spent obese certainly didn’t help my confidence, self-love or social skills. Even after a lot of the weight was gone, confidence in myself did not magically develop. I had fairly crippling anxiety in most situations. Unable to look even a cashier in the eyes. I figured since the weight loss didn’t fix it, it was just a part of me. I wasn’t meant to be a social butterfly, I was built to be trembling in job interviews and staring at tables while on dates. But it’s not my fault right? I must simply have some bad genes. I wasn’t meant to be direct with women or the center of attention in a room. Right?

I wasn’t used to talking about this kind of thing to anyone. I had never heard anyone else speaking about wanting to change, about being unsatisfied with their situation. This further led me to believe, that change wasn’t something that could happen. That the people I see in the olympics, that the charismatic Bill Clintons of the world, are just ‘that way’.

When suddenly one day I decided to open up to my personal trainer at the gym, he was just a bit older then me, and we had built a bit of a bond. I told him about my frustrations in life and how it seems no matter how many dates I go on, I’m just not compatible with anyone. His answer wasn’t what I was expecting. He told me you can learn to be better. That there’s books for knowing how to talk to women, how to be more charismatic, how to find more peace and calm in your life, how to find your purpose. My mind mostly associated those kind of things with “Oprah nonsense”, that was some huge hoax for people to buy books.

With this seed in my mind that someone I trusted told me that it didn’t have to be this way, I hopped on a plane with a couple of friends and toured around Europe. The whole time still frustrated about my situation, I lashed out at my dear friends in ways I was not proud of. I did have some of the material my trainer gave me on the trip, and started flipping through it. On the day I returned to the real world, I was laid off from my job.

This was my rock bottom; no job, no girlfriend, and terrified of the idea of having to move back in with my parents. My mind reached some sort of breaking point, but what was on the other side was not something I was expecting. I felt as if I suddenly had the ability to start all over. That this was a new dawn.

And so, with the spare time in-between job searching, I started to devour books and began pushing myself to face my fears. Any idea that sounded like it would benefit me, I accepted fully and naively. I was a blank canvas and I would get to decide what the new painting would look like.

With the idea of ‘fake it till’ you make it’, I thought I’d pretend to be confident, and see how I got on. I received a call from an IT recruiter, when they said ‘since you seem really confident, I’m sure you’ll do great’, I burst out in laughter after the call. I had fooled him, totally! The interviews came in quick succession after that, and with techniques like Amy Cuddy’s power poses, the confidence eventually really did become a part of me.

The years of video games, and my career being in the field of ‘computer security’ or ‘fighting computer hax0rs’, allowed me to thrive in the process of ‘personal development’. I always looked for ways to do things more efficiently, or ‘hack them’. I failed over and over, but kept progressing as I would learn something from each failure. It was just like dying in a video game, and trying again and again until I learned the strategy that would lead me to victory.

This led to passions in all kinds of other areas. For instance, I wondered how far back I could find advice on the art of life, this led me to exploring philosophy. My love of ‘hacking’ things efficiently led me to explore neuroscience and psychology. The profound effects of my hitting rock bottom had me look into religion and spirituality.

My search of love, had me explore dating and relationships. While initially all I could find was the old school, weird pick-up artist sort of advice, I did eventually discover a whole community of men who explored ways to become better with women, by becoming their best selves. Learning how to connect with women emotionally, how to have the strength to be vulnerable, how not to become needy or a ‘nice guy‘.


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And so I found a new job in a new city (as pictured above, me staring dramatically into the distance at Montreal’s Mount Royal summit), the blank canvas concept extended to my entire life now. I could decide on my friends, my hobbies, my habits and just about every other aspect of my life. I used the skills I learned to connect with others, and built new, far more profound types of relationships. Where before my hobbies were video games and movies, things easy to do as a person with pretty heavy social anxiety, the new me had no such limitations.

I filled my life with people who were on similar paths, from all walks of life, all ages, different dreams and goals. People who cared about themselves and their lives. My hobbies became things like public speaking, I took improv classes, I tried out stand-up comedy to reasonable laughter and success, I even ended up on television as a part of a happiness program.

I suppose the “Oprah nonsense” wasn’t as much nonsense as I thought. The only nonsense was my beliefs. When I believed I could change, change no longer seemed impossible, I was no longer a slave to ‘my genes’. It’s been a long journey, that wasn’t always easy, and is nowhere near over. I hope no matter where you’re at in your story, you find some inspiration and actionable advice in this blog.

I’d like to end with a special shout out to Peter Hartman and Samantha Barley, who both run meetup groups in Montreal, they allowed me to jump-start my socializing and new life almost immediately after I moved into the city. The momentum I’ve built thanks to them has taken me to places I could have only dreamed of.