Rejection and Betrayal. Unless you live in a bubble or on a desert island, you’ve probably already experienced both. Possibly, many times. Maybe recently. Like this week? Or today? Welcome to life; a world of all things messy, unfair, painful, joyful and glorious.
Sometimes, all on the same day.
Reality not Theory
Over the journey, I’ve had girlfriends cheat on me. A few, that I know of. In fact (I probably shouldn’t share this story but who cares), one of my girlfriends cheated on me when we were holidaying together on a beautiful tropical island. Which made for an interesting flight home. I’ve had people that I loved and trusted steal money from me. Lots of money. I’ve had publishers reject my work. Coaches leave me off teams (good decisions, probably). Pseudo-friends cut me off when I was no longer valuable to them. I’ve had colleagues resent my success and people I’ve never met talk trash about me in an attempt to gain some kind of personal or professional edge or leverage. Well that’s my guess, anyway. I also receive a constant stream of emails from people who feel compelled to tell me how and why almost everything I write on this site is either stupid or wrong, or both. And no, I’m not complaining or seeking sympathy here; I’m merely providing some honest insight into my personal experience on today’s topic. In other words, I’m writing experientially not theoretically.
And while I don’t love or look for rejection, I expect it.
I also have some amazing, beautiful people who support, love and encourage me unconditionally. And of course, I have some great supporters and friends (you) who are largely responsible for this site being the success is it today. Thanks.
So, it’s a given that you and I will be betrayed and rejected. At some stage. By someone. Or ones. In theory, it shouldn’t be part of life but as we all know, life’s not a theory. When that great philosopher of the ages uttered those immortal words “shit happens and then we deal with it”, she was talking about, among other things, rejection and betrayal.
So, if we can’t avoid it, how do we best deal with it?
1. Don’t manufacture it. Some people get offended at the drop of a hat (whatever that means). They experience rejection twenty times a day, not because anyone has actually rejected them but rather, because they have misinterpreted or misunderstood a situation, conversation or behaviour. They find rejection like a Golden Retriever finds food. They have a rejection radar. They create negative experiences out of thin air and tell themselves rejection stories. So precious are they that the slightest reason (imagined or real) or the most innocent of comments will see them tailspin into an emotional sea of self-pity and woe-is-me-ness. There will be plenty of genuine rejection and betrayal coming your way, so there’s no need to make shit up Princess.
2. Have realistic expectations. Don’t expect people to think, react, communicate or behave like you. The only person who sees the world (exactly) like you, is you. Keep in mind that most people care about themselves way more than they’ll ever care about you.
3. Don’t be emotionally dependant on people. Loving people is good. And healthy. As is appreciating them. But being unable to function emotionally without them? Bad. It’s possible (healthy, even) to have great relationships while still being independent and self-sufficient. In fact, the less needy we are, the more people will want to be around us. Needy people are rejection magnets. And, in case you were unclear, ‘needy’ – not sexy.
4. Stop looking for validation, permission and approval. You don’t need it. You’re big now.
5. Accept that not everyone will love or like you and that’s not only fine; it’s normal. Agonising over people who don’t like you is not only a waste of your time and emotional energy but also a great way to give away your personal power.
6. Acknowledgement. Sometimes we simply need to say (1) this relationship is over or (2) this relationship will never be and that’s okay. As painful as it may be, you’ll survive. Flogging a dead horse (as my mum says) can only result in frustration, anger and sometimes, really creepy stalker-ish behaviour! And by the way, if somebody is not attracted to you, that doesn’t mean they’re rejecting you. If people not being attracted to me was how I measured rejection, I’d be in constant therapy.
7. Stick to the facts. Don’t invent stuff. Stop theorising, philosophising and guessing about what could, should, would or might happen if he (she) did or didn’t do this, that or the other. Step out of the hypothetical into the actual. I’ve coached many people who have created entire relationships in their mind and when I spoke with to the other person (in the pretend relationship), they didn’t know anything about it.
8. Love Yourself. In a healthy way, of course. At the risk of sounding self-absorbed or egomaniacal, from an emotional health perspective, the most important relationship you’ll ever have is with yourself. When you like who you are and how you are, confidence, calm and contentment will be your default setting. Self-esteem works from the inside-out, not the other way around.
The Last Bit
Talk to anyone who has experienced significant success in their lives and they will tell you stories of rejection and betrayal along the way. Adversity can make or break you. It can be the end or the beginning. Like most things, it’s totally up to you. You give things meaning. Without your labels, those events and situations are meaningless and inconsequential. Rejection and betrayal are inevitable but how you respond is totally optional.
And let’s not forget the wisdom of the great philosopher (you know the one) who said…
“Don’t make shit harder than it needs to be you dumb f*cker.”
Well, she said something like that.