Thursday, February 25, 2010

Word Wonder -- rejection

Friday, February 25, 2010

To reject means to:
1. To refuse to accept, recognize, believe, etc. 2. To refuse to grant; deny as a petition. 3. to refuse (a person)  recognition, acceptance, etc. 5. To cast away as rejected. [From the Latin rejectus, which comes from reicere. Reicere is made of two parts: re-, meaning "back" + jacere, meaning "to throw."] - Funk & Wagnall's Canadian College Dictionary.

Most people have experienced rejection at some point. Perhaps you have. Maybe someone who matters to you has refused to accept you into the family or the workplace. Maybe you've been part of a group but then were rejected, expelled from it.

The hurt of rejection can slice deep, cutting through layers of defenses and hopes. If you have experienced rejection in the past without coming to terms with it, fresh rejections can be especially painful and confusing as they pile up on the old ones. Rejection can feel scary, even threatening at times.

We use many words for rejection; here are some of them:
discard, repudiate, refuse, prohibit, contradict, ostracize, exclude, eject, disbelieve, drop, cut out, let go, dispense with, throw away, cast aside, get rid of, shrug off, dump, dispose of, jettison, jilt, throw to the wolves, write off, abandon, turn down, deprive of, repulse, rebuff, repel, kiss off, slam the door in one's face, snub, have nothing to do with, spurn, turn one's back, deny, shut out, exile, banish, ban, boycott, blackball, bar, ignore, segregate, isolate
Quite a long list of ways we find to exclude one another. They can all hurt, because one basic human need is to belong. Belonging affirms that we exist, that we have value and can contribute. When others cast us aside or don't let us "in" in the first place, our sense of belonging can feel threatened. It's easy to feel hurt and sad and to think, "If they don't want me, what will I do? I must not be as good as they are; maybe I'm not worth anything at all."

However, keep in mind that there is a difference between being rejected and being part of a natural change or situation that does not happen to include you. In the list of words above, I italicized some words because they could signal rejection, or they could simply signal a more neutral change or situation. Although such situations can be hard to take, they're not necessarily a personal attack against you.

Take a look at the comparisons below to get a feel for this difference:
rejection: Your girlfriend yells, "Kiss off, Asshole!" (Her anger and words are a definite rejection.)
neutral situation: You didn't get the funding for which you applied. The letter reads, "We regret to inform you that your application has been denied."  (You simply didn't qualify, or other applicants were more qualified. This is not personal against you, even if it is hard to hear.)
rejection: You've been on the job for six months and seem to get along with your co-workers. Then, without warning, many of them start to snub you in the staff room and don't talk to you unless they have to for work. (Whether or not you understand why, this sort of treatment seems to send the message: We don't want/like/value you.)
neutral situation: A member of your team who often seems to be "on your side" now contradicts your opinion during a discussion. (As uncomfortable as this can be, it's just another person's opinion. Having different opinions does not mean that anyone has less value than anyone else.)
 The key to dealing with all such situations -- clear rejections and neutral situations -- is to find ways to see and accept your own value no matter what others feel, think, say or do. What can you do when you feel rejected? Feel, think and act your way to new understanding:
  • Acknowledge your feelings. It's human and okay to have emotional reactions to tough circumstances. Name your feelings; do you feel sad, hurt, angry, disappointed, afraid, lonely, resentful, useless? Let the tears flow. Take a few deep breaths. Go for a walk. Write in your journal. Talk it out.
  • Think through the situation as clearly as you can. Ask yourself what led up to the rejection or change. Look at your own part in it; are you part of the problem? Do you need to apologize for anything? What can you learn and do differently next time? Keep in mind that circumstances might change in time. You might decide that you're happy with your actions. If so, remind yourself that others won't always agree with you and that that's just fine.
  • Act on what you've learned and what you know. Learn to remind yourself of your value, no matter what others think. Ask someone you trust to help you see your less-wonderful traits. Change your behaviours that cause relationship problems. If it's appropriate, talk the situation over with those who are involved.
Change and rejection happen to everybody, but no matter which you experience, it's in your power to turn things around. Feel your feelings, think it through, and act on your own good intentions. You cannot change anyone else, and you might not be able to change the situation, but you can definitely change how you deal with it.


Julian Van Deyl said...

Hey Kate! Great stuff! Rejection is certainly hard to deal with for many people. I am glad you can provide insight into the issue! Ironically, I am currently experiencing the greatest rejection of my life, but don't want to talk about it on the interent (it's personal). Keep up the good work!

Gail said...

I really like your term "less wonderful traits" Makes it easier for me to admit I might have a few!
Excellent guide to moving ahead. Thanks, G.

Kate Thompson said...

Thanks for your comments. Keep on truckin'. We can all make progress, which is accessible. Perfection is not accessible. I have a motto: Practice makes better.

cal B said...

Rejection is seen and felt by the owner of the feelings,painful sometimes especially when its your own child.Detatchment has been the antidote. If they only knew how deep it cuts. The rose in the pic. brings solace. Thanks for your blog.,this way I need not get my dictionary out

Kate Thompson said...

Rejection by those we love does cut very deep. But as you said, by detaching from their motives and actions, we can still love them while we protect ourselves if we need to.

And, yeah, leave your dictionary on the shelf. :-)

Anonymous said...

thanks for the words on this kate. rejection is definitely painful but something to learn from. i certainly learned a lot, way back, from one really crushing rejection. the old saying "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger" holds true. i think it is also helpful for someone if they are being rejected to reflect on their feelings and how it was handled by both sides, as chances are, in the future, they will become the rejecter rather than the rejectee. i really do think that being rejected and feeling that kind of pain on ones lifetime really helps shape themselves for future relationships. i have found the best my best relationships are with a person who has felt the sting of a love lost at least once. just some thoughts.

Kate Thompson said...

Well, thank you for your thoughts, Anonymous. I agree it can really help to talk with people who understand what's going on, or what has gone on in the past, with us. I think the trick is to not let painful experiences in the past keep up bitter and resentful in the present.