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.

The Pursuit of Permission

“If it’s a good idea, go ahead and do it. It’s much easier to apologize than it is to get permission.” – Grace Hopper

It can be difficult to live any sort of non-standard lifestyle. It feels as if everyone around you is judging you for it. In a very likely truth, they are far more likely masking their own insecurities towards change, then actually judging you, but it sure feels real at the time. Another branch off the same tree as taking responsibility, is asking permission.

In fact, this can be a very subtle way of avoiding responsibility. Let’s start with an example to get an idea of how this can happen. Imagine a man who lacks empathy, he pursues women and sex because he gets a kick out of it, and don’t care about telling them the truth, or the harm he does to himself or others. On the other side, imagine a “New Age Man” who believes how we’re “all one” and “the universe is love”, and sleeps around without taking responsibility and getting his permission from these seemingly “obvious” principles. “How can I cheat on you, when we’re all one, everything is love baby”. There’s no difference between either of the men mentioned above.

There’s nothing wrong with pursuing what you’re driven to, whether that’s in sex, life, career or anything. You still need to take responsibility for what you’re doing. To get permission from a spiritual book that says nothing has meaning and the universe is objective, and then using that to harm others, would, as is common sense, make you an asshole.

Don’t seek permission in learning psychology and seeing how the brain works, and giving yourself permission to be flawed. Don’t seek permission from philosophies which dictate that the world is deterministic, and anything you’re driven to do must already be written in stone, it’s not your fault! Don’t seek permission from a spiritual book that tells you you’re one with the love of the universe, and can do no wrong as your higher self.

Taking responsibility for your actions and pursuits is empowering, no matter what they are. Trying to avoid responsibility through your cleverness and higher understanding of the self and the universe only alienates you from your true power.

Spirituality is primarily a pursuit of wakefulness, of awareness. For your inner self this is to be aware of where your thoughts and ideas come from, where your motivation comes from, where your frustration and anger come from. Externally this is how you interact with others and the world. How is your sense of humor understood by others, do they seem comfortable around you, are you always slightly too close to the car in front of you while driving? This seems like a simple idea, but it’s in the “oh, I already know all of those things”, that demonstrates a lack of awareness more then anything else. Awareness is a daily pursuit, or more like, a moment by moment observation. All of the above changes at all times, and therefore, relying on knowing yourself just because you knew you from a year ago, is insufficient.

With awareness, you can more easily notice when you refuse to take responsibility, with awareness you can see if you’re using excuses or a spiritual pursuit or “higher understanding” to justify behaviors you don’t want to own. When you own it, and take responsibility for it, the possibilities in life are that much more endless. With clear intention, and right understanding, life unfolds effortlessly.

The Path of Direct Experience

“Inform yourself. What does inform yourself mean? It means transcend and mistrust ideology. Go for: direct experience” – Terence McKenna

Like meditation, direct experience is like a Swiss army knife of spirituality, it has many possible uses. Both of the spiritual kind, and of the more fun practical sort. In it’s simplest form, direct experience is the act to “see for yourself”. It means to not worry so much about what you’ve read about an idea, belief, mindset, activity, or anything else, but to just, open your eyes and look.

It’s bad enough we’re bombarded by parents, family, friends, co-workers, media, television, Hollywood, ads, magazines, and everything in-between telling us the “right” way to live. The “right” way to fit in. The “right” age to do something at. A more subtle problem exists in the New Age or self-help community; where now you also have yogis, gurus, successful entrepreneurs, life coaches, motivational speakers, and anyone who can write a blog, also telling you what to do.

There is nothing wrong with any of the above, per-say. The problem only comes when any of it is adopted as ideology. I encourage you not to blindly accept anything, of course, not even what I say. Instead of being convinced that saying “I have financial abundance” in front of the mirror for half an hour each morning will make a man show up on your door-step with a bag of money, really dig deeply into why you want something.

If you’re happy at your current job, but you feel you shouldn’t be settling, because you’ve seen one too many 4K Youtube videos of a young CEO doing backflips off a cliff into the waters of some exotic island, really ask yourself if that’s what you really want to do too. It can be as simple as “why do I want this?”. If your answer is “because it inspired me to live a fuller life, and I want to see all it has to offer”, great, then you’ve chosen an experience you’d like to have. Instead of spending the half an hour in front of your mirror each morning, spend it researching exotic islands, find out how much it would cost to go there, and see how you may make that sort of money, or if there is some way for you to save up.

If instead, you look at these CEOs splashing around and think “Wow, that’s so cool! My life is so lame! If only I was living like that, my life would be as exciting as these guys! Oh man my friends would be SO JEALOUS!!”. You may not be going for the best possible experience. It may even be difficult to identify why you want it at first too. Allow yourself to have a direct experience with yourself, sit and think about it. You’re the one who has to spend the money to fly to the exotic island. You’re the one who has to potentially work 60-80 hour weeks to work a successful business. If you want the experience of the end result, without the experience of the work to get there, be more realistic.

There are subtle forms of dogma out there, it’s possible that you’ll fall into a spiritual system of “oneness” and “personal freedom” and can be living in dogma just as much as a heavily religious person. The solution to this is to focus on the direct experience you’re having. To deeply go into yourself and find out why you really want something. Then try it out and see for yourself. To evaluate objectively if it was what you really wanted. To trust yourself first, before the ideology, always. This is the path of direct experience.

The Battle For Worthiness

“Your problem is you are too busy holding on to your unworthiness.”
Ram Dass

The beautiful thing about fear is that it will follow you everywhere. You can’t really take a vacation from it. If you take a flight 3000 kilometers away, it will gladly come with you. Wherever you go, there it is. What if there is this thing I’ve always wanted to do, but I’ll never be able to do it? Forever is a long time.

Thankfully, once two things come into play, it’s possible to start removing fear pretty much immediately. First is acknowledging that you have the particular fear, and second is that you are worthy and capable of overcoming it. Unless your fear actually involves a risk of death, it is something that can be overcome with right effort.

I tried the whole “think positive” thing in the personal development community. “I am abundant”, “I am happy”, “I will get through this”. Unfortunately, the flaw to this strategy is that you’re changing your reaction to a negative thought, and not the cause of it.

If you feel you’ve messed up a lot at something, and your fear is that you’ll mess up next time too, telling yourself “I will get it this time”, consciously, will probably provide space for your subconscious to respond with “But I probably will just fail again”.

If that strategy hasn’t gotten you where you wanted to be, let’s look at what I mentioned above. First, acknowledge your fear. “I am afraid I’ve messed up at this thing, and I may mess up again”. Second, give yourself the resources to overcome it. If you can try something new, do it, and see what happens. If a friend or mentor has accomplished the thing your wanting to do, drop any idea that “they did it, but I probably can’t”, and see how you can integrate what they’re doing into your situation.

Some people are very dedicated at accomplishing a specific task. They will gladly throw themselves head first into adversity. They won’t let fear stop them. Unfortunately, overcompensation is as big of a risk as paralyzing fear. The one who is afraid of job interviews and doesn’t apply to any job, and the one who applies to every job, but doesn’t make any of them count, are in the same boat. It is a little better to throw yourself out there then to be paralyzed into inactivity, but thankfully the best strategy falls in the middle.

You may not feel worthy of a specific accomplishment. A fear of success, and not knowing what to do once you’ve got the thing you’ve always wanted, is a fear that can sneak up on you.

There is a strategy of compassion that will get you much farther, and allow your path out of unworthiness. Start by acknowledging your fear, as a wholeheartedly as you can. Next, acknowledge you may have a way to go, but that you’re willing to put in the effort required. Lastly, take some action in the right direction, and evaluate what happened. What did you do well? What can you improve next time? Take your findings into your next attempt, and repeat this until you see yourself succeed. Defeat fear with kindness, and your journey will take you much farther, much faster.

 

Who Are You?

“Know Thyself”
– Temple of Apollo at Delphi

Who are you? Your name was decided by your parents, so you aren’t “Steve”, sorry Steves of the world. Even with having spent potentially many years of schooling and on the job, you aren’t really your career either. Some people change those as late as in their 60s and 70s, so it can’t be that either. You may perhaps have a dozen other titles: father, brother, mother, sister, son, or daughter. You’re likely a different one to different people though, so that alone can’t define you either.

 

Perhaps you define yourself by your qualities. “I’m a reliable person!”. That’s wonderful, though probably not all the time. At best you can try, but sometimes there’s just too many other factors, and to be reliable to one person, you may become unreliable to another. Something that shaky can’t be your identity either.

 

I won’t go down a path like “You’re all of those things!”, though it may be true to some extent. Let’s avoid all this “Just be yourself” nonsense too.

 

Having just crossed the four year mark a month ago since the start of my weight loss journey, I still vividly remember “Who I was”. As a 385 pound man-child, I spent my time in jobs that were frustrating, with plentiful hours of video games, and a ground hog day style cycle of hanging out with the same people and going to the same restaurants. Without the hilarious antics of Bill Murray, or the realization that the cycle was going on, and I’m pretty sure if I died, I wouldn’t have come back either.

 

With the wonderful power of self-awareness and mindfulness, and realizing those pesky habits of ours exist, the answer takes a different form. The answer is…

 

Whoever you choose to be.

 

Don’t worry, I’m not going into a “you can do anything” rant. Though you can, there’s just a caveat, if you want to learn a skill that would change the entire way you interact with the world around you, such as developing charisma, realize it will take time. Take comfort in the idea that you aren’t locked in to your hobbies, social circle, charisma level, or just about anything else. You may be limited in some fashion, financially, geometrically, and a wealth of other possibilities.

 

HOT TIP: Consider any aspect of yourself that you define yourself by, find the source of it. Did you really decide it? Does it really define you? If you learned your kindness from your parents, great, but if circumstances were less lucky, you have have learned resentment from them instead. Drill down deeply and find the source of any label, decide if you want to keep it.

 

Though if you can read this blog, you have access to the internet. You can find ways to take steps towards who you really want to become. It may begin theoretically until you resolve your current situation (i.e. moving out from your parents home or finding employment), but the ground hog day cycle needs to be broken, and what you’ve been doing so far hasn’t done it.

 

Lastly, don’t be concerned whether the “you” that you want to become is radically different from who you currently are. You can’t ‘lose’ who you are, since none of those things you define yourself with (i.e. name, job, personality) are really set in stone. If you lose your friends or if people treat you differently due to some change you made, decide whether your old life without that conflict, means more to you then becoming who you really want to be. How amazing would it feel to know your personal abilities and the way and with whom you spend your time were crafted by you, and that you are growing closer each day towards the person you’ve always wanted to be?