Approx. 4 minute read
Have you ever felt that emotional ‘blow to the stomach’, when you hear:
- “I’m not interested.”
- “You shouldn’t be here.”
- “I don’t want to see you anymore.”
- “That will never work.”
We all want to feel included and valued. It can be difficult when we, or what we have to offer is not wanted. Thoughts and emotions arise such as: I’m not good enough, that was a waste of time, along with a sense of frustration, disappointment, and a desire to give up.
I recently experienced two situations where I felt rejected. One publicly and one privately. Let me recap.
I attended an event with my wife celebrating International Women’s Day. At one point, all the men were asked to come up on stage and recite a poem together. As a walked to the stage a few women called out, “No men on stage! It’s Woman’s Day. Boo!”
One man stopped in his tracks, and mumbled, “Yeah, they’re right,” and returned to his spot in the crowd. I kept walking to the stage with a knot building in my stomach. What if the reaction from those women grows? What if I and the other men are booed off the stage? What if I and the other men are booed off the stage?
What if I and the other men are booed off the stage?
After a men’s group meeting, I approached a new attendee to describe a course I am offering for men. I believed he would be a good fit and it might be beneficial. He was direct in his response to me, saying, “I have no interest in this. I’m not ready to have this conversation,” and strode away leaving me in mid-sentence and feeling like I’d been slammed in the gut. In my mind I heard, I’m not worthy. I’m not capable. What I have to say doesn’t matter.
In both situations, those words echoed through my head and my body first tensed with anxiousness, then deflated with resignation.
my body first tensed with anxiousness, then deflated with resignation.
In my old way of habitual reacting, I would have stewed for days listening to the chattering in my head and feeling a knot in my stomach. I would be restless, resentful, and gloomy.
Now, I approach the emotional reaction differently. I recognize that there is an opportunity for me to ‘flip feeling rejected’ on its head and create something beneficial for me.
Here’s how it works. I reflect on the circumstance, my beliefs about what happened, my resulting emotions, and decide if I want to behave differently in the future.
- Reflect on the Circumstance. (What really happened – the facts.)
- What were my Reactions? (Emotions, physical feelings, thoughts)
- What past Experiences support those reactions? (The evidence I have to support the way I felt).
- Observe my reaction with Awareness and without judgment. (Was my reaction helpful and rational, or detrimental and irrational? Was my reaction aligned with my desired character, principles, values, integrity, or not?)
- Tell a new story to change my reaction. (Change my perspective/beliefs to ones that will support a desired emotional response.)
- Express a new response in the future. (Put the change of perspectives/beliefs into practice and change my emotional and physical outcomes.)
The acronym is CREATE, for create a new response.
Here’s the approach in action.
Circumstance #1 (Public Event)
- Circumstance (the facts): Two or three women out of dozens voiced their displeasure of men going on stage.
- Reactions: I didn’t belong on stage. Those women are angry with me. The situation could escalate. Men are not wanted or accepted at the event. I felt anxious, nervous, and a knot in my stomach.
- Experiences: There have been a number of events in my life (and those I’ve witnessed) where others had no interest in hearing what I had to say or didn’t want me there.
- Awareness: My thoughts created angst and stress in my body. I became reluctant and fearful. Those emotions were separating me from my authenticity, my values and principles. I was more concerned with what others might think of me (irrational) than doing what was integral for me (rational).
- Tell a new story: I accept that others have their own opinion (and are entitled to them). I choose to not take it personally – I don’t know what those women have experienced. Perhaps, they have experienced abuse by men. I choose to be empathetic and hope they find healing, and that as I man, can be a positive example to women, and to other men. I do this by living in my authenticity.
- Express a new response: I stayed on stage and the reading of the poem was greatly appreciated by the majority of women. I was at peace with my decision when I walked on stage. I was able to let go of my unhelpful thoughts. I want to extend empathy and acceptance to others. I am willing to stand up for what I believe in.
Circumstance #2 (Private Event)
- Circumstance (the facts): I asked a man’s permission to talk to him after his first men’s group meeting. When he agreed, I told him about the course I was teaching. He told me, “I’m not ready to have this conversation.”
- Reactions: Thoughts – He shut me down. I screwed that up. I failed. My course isn’t worthwhile. I have nothing of value to offer. I’ve been scolded. He knows better than me. Emotions – rejection, sadness, guilt, shame. Physical – tightening of my stomach.
- Experiences: I’ve been bullied in the past. This felt like being bullied. The gentleman was terse and seemed angry. It brought up challenging memories.
- Awareness: My approach to the man and my reaction to his response were both unhelpful to me (irrational). I came across as if ‘I had the answers for him’, ‘that I knew what was best’. When he responded I felt sorry for myself and wanted to slink away and hide. I was physically shaking and short of breath.
- Tell a new story: The man responded in a way that was blunt but honest. I respect him for that. I realized that I would not have appreciated being approached after attending a men’s group for the first time by someone trying to ‘sell me something’. I didn’t treat him the way I would like to be treated. My motivation was comprised of wanting to help him, but also of desperation (since no had registered for my course at that time).
- Express a new response: A lesson learned. In similar circumstances in the future I will be kind, empathetic, compassionate, and understanding. I recognize my desire for external validation and wanting to be valued (through course participants in this case). I understand and accept that what I have to offer will not resonate with everyone. What is important for me is to stay on track, be authentic and consistent with my message, and believe in what I have to offer the world. Be patient. Be integral. Be humble. Be authentic.
In both situations, I reviewed my reactions and found them to be unhelpful to my long-term goals and did not align with my character, principles and values. I was taking other people’s words and actions personally
I was taking other people’s words and actions personally
By reflecting on my behaviour and the reasons behind it, I was able to create awareness of what was going on within me.
Understanding this, I can choose a different response in the future. When those words come up in my head—I’m not worthy, capable, or good enough, I’ve been rejected—I can catch myself and change my thinking and CREATE a new response.
Using CREATE is not ‘rocket-science’, and it’s not therapy, but it is therapeutic for me.
Reflecting on uncomfortable thoughts and emotions helps me recognize when I’m not showing up authentically, and to shift my perspective to be consistent with the man I want to be.
shift my perspective to be consistent with the man I want to be
You can CREATE a new response when you feel rejected (or any other unwelcome emotional state), by reviewing, reconsidering, and responding according to your principles, values, and character.
For more techniques and tools to modify behaviour, check out my unique and engaging self-improvement novel, The Shift Squad.
I write to inspire others to greater self-empowerment, authenticity, and improved emotional and mental well-being.
I am the author of the unique personal development novel The Shift Squad.
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