Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Fear of Rejection

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"I don't like you! I never want to see you again!"

"Get out of here, you don't belong here!"

"We are sorry, but you weren't selected to be on the team."

We have all experienced rejection throughout our lives. Why do we fear it? What makes it so difficult and what can we do about it?

Where does fear of rejection come from?

As young children, we learn quickly that a smiling face means that our parents are pleased with us and a frowning one means that we have done something wrong. We equate smiles with acceptance and love, and frowns with rejection, anger, fear, and hate. When our parents smile at us, we know that they love us, and that our needs will be met. When they frown, we know that they are not happy with us, they may even be angry, and that our needs most likely will not be met.

As we get older, we realize that these same principles apply in our relationships. When other people are pleased and happy with us, we feel love and acceptance. When we do something that they do not like, we are usually met with anger and frustration. When this happens we often assume that others do not like us anymore, and tell ourselves that we should look elsewhere for friendship.

Since we live with this reality throughout our lives, it only stands to reason that we want to avoid rejection if at all possible. In fact, we fear it and want to stay far away from it. Rejection is an unpleasant experience, and when others do things that we do not like, we tend to reject them as a form of punishment.

Why does rejection affect us so deeply? 

When we are rejected, we think that we have done something wrong. We analyze our actions critically in an effort to rectify the situation. If we find nothing worthy of the rejection, we automatically make the assumption that we were rejected because we are not good enough to be loved and accepted. 

In fact, we go one step further; we assume that we are no longer lovable and since we are no longer lovable, we must be worthless. Feelings of worthlessness lead to hopelessness and helplessness, the stuff of which suicide is made.

It is no wonder that people commit suicide when they are fired from their job, experience the death of a close loved one, or suffer from a broken relationship. They feel rejected by those who are most important to them; therefore, they assume that they are no longer worthy to live. There is no point in going on.

Even if the rejection we experience has nothing to do with a relationship, we still equate it with feelings of worthlessness. Whether a bad grade on our report card, a “thanks for applying but we don’t need you” letter following a job interview, or a “sorry you don’t qualify for the loan” phone call, we still have feelings of not being good enough.

In other words, we don't have what it takes. We have put forth our best effort, but we didn't make it. We weren't smart enough, tough enough, or in the groove enough. We just feel short. The rejection hole we fall into gets pretty deep and the feelings of discouragement, despair, and despondency bury us alive!

What can we do about it? 

In order to stop the fear of rejection from burying us, we have to stop the assumptions:
  1. Rejection does not mean that we are not loved. As members of the human family, we are all loved unconditionally by our Maker. This beautiful earth is evidence of God's love for everyone. The sun shines on all. The trees, grass, flowers, and bushes are made specifically for our happiness. When we tap into God's love, it does not matter how other people treat us. We are loved and lovable.
  2. Rejection does not mean that we have done something wrong. Frowns do not equal anger, and anger does not equal hate. Rejection may mean that the time is not right, that it is not a good fit, or that we are not compatible. Rejection is simply the process by which we gain information and learn from it. Avoid taking rejection personally by looking at it as simply another piece of information in the puzzle we call life. We work very hard putting all the pieces in the right places, only to find that when we do, the picture has changed. Rejection is simply the initiation of change.
  3. Rejection does not mean that we are not good enough. It simply means that it is time to do something different. Thankfully, we can change; it is possible. Rejection simply means that we go back to the drawing board and come up with another plan. We go forward with faith. 
Fear of rejection may seem like a monster at first glance, but when we look at it with a change in our perspective, we are able to use it to our advantage. Remember, we are good enough. We have another chance; we have another choice.

©2014 by Denise W. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What is Emotional Health?

It all started the day my brother didn't come home.

Our eyes were on the driveway, watching and waiting. He and a friend had ridden their motorcycles to the local gravel pit for a swim before assuming duties on the farm during our family's absence. The camper was packed and the sun getting low in the sky. If we didn't leave soon, we wouldn't make the campground before dark.

We didn't go.

When the pickup entered the driveway, we knew something was wrong. My dad met the driver on the porch and they slowly walked out to the pickup. Words were exchanged, and then the pickup drove away. Dad walked to the house with his head bowed. 

The next few days were a blur.

Seeing my brother's body lying there in the funeral home was surreal. I kept waiting for him to come waltzing in to tell us that it was all a joke. He was 16 years old, strong, athletic, and tan with the sun. I was only 15. He was my brother. He was my friend.  

Life was never the same again.

Our emotional health is determined by the way we respond to life's challenges

At the time, I didn't understand what was happening to our family. I only knew the numbness I felt. Things were not going well at home. Other unfortunate events used what little resources we had. I left home for college, and my father eventually sold the farm.

In order to cope, I started studying families.

I wanted to know what made families work, why some were successful and others were not. I made some decisions as to how I wanted my own family to be. It kept me from falling into the potholes of despair and discouragement that kept coming my way.

Life got better.

I started my own family, rejoiced in the newness of life, and the opportunity to be a part of the wonder of creation. Each new spirit that joined ours brought additional closeness and an outpouring of love.

Emotional health is like a rotating wheel

Our thoughts, feelings, desires, and actions, revolve around our belief system. How we complete the sentence "I am...." is the basis of our self worth. It determines how we think, and feelings that result from our thoughts, the things we desire, and finally, our actions.

It does not stop there. The results of our actions either affirm our beliefs, or change them. In turn, our thoughts, feelings, desires, and actions evolve and change as well.

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I Am Circle by Denise W. Anderson

As we grow in our understanding of emotional health, we can change what happens in our lives. After my brother's death, my family was hurting. I didn't understand and could not help them heal from the tragic event that occurred.

It was not until years later, as I grieved for another close member of the family, that I realized that I had to work through my grief, and make some type of remembrance of him. As I did so, and gave it to my family, I helped some of them with their feeling. At the same time, I resolved my own.

We can change our emotional health

Emotional health is the glue that holds our lives together. It affects all aspects of our lives. Just like the hub of a wheel, it holds the spokes in place as they turn the axle of the wagon. When the center hub is broken, the wheel ceases to turn.

Our emotional health is the basis of our physical, mental, spiritual, and intellectual health. Without emotional health, there is no health. We suffer excruciating pain and heartache. With our emotional health, we can handle anything that life has to offer, and are able to give unconditional love to others.

Join me in the journey, for your emotional health!

©2014 by Denise W. Anderson, all rights reserved.