Why does rejection feel so terrible? Listen in as I teach you why and what you can do to feel better.
Rejection is a part of divorce. It feels terrible. Many of us spend far too much of our lives avoiding feeling rejected because we fear the pain and misery of this singular emotion.
In today's podcast episode I'm teaching you why rejection feels so terrible and what we can do to deal with rejection when it shows up in our lives after divorce.
If you are tired of feeling rejected constantly and you want to learn to like yourself and you want to treat yourself with kindness. If you are ready to really learn that you are valuable and you are worthy and that you matter, and if you’re tired of feeling sad and rejected and like you’re not good enough, then I really want you to take a minute and schedule your free consult with me by clicking here. Now is the perfect time to learn self acceptance and to stop feeling the pain of rejection after divorce.
What you'll learn from this episode:
Why rejection feels so terrible.
The two main ways rejection shows up in our lives.
Understanding the emotional response of rejection versus the mental response.
How to let go of the rejection and instead create acceptance and feel better now.
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Full Episode Transcript:
Welcome back to Becoming You Again. I’m your host Karin Nelson. I’m a certified divorce confidence coach and this is the podcast where I teach you how to reconnect with yourself, create emotional resiliency and live a truly independent life, so you can have an even better life than when you were married.
Hello my friends. I am so glad that you are back listening to another episode of Becoming You Again. I am enjoying creating these podcasts for y’all and I want to remind you that if you have not yet left a review or even followed me on your favorite podcasting app then I would encourage you to please follow me and leave a review if you find that you are getting some good value out of these. If you are finding that these podcasts are being helpful and even feel free to share it with your friends in your Facebook group that you like or somebody that you think might benefit from what we talk about here on this podcast because I am having so much fun putting out these podcasts and I would like to be able to get in front of as many people as I can help and I definitely need your help to be able to do that. So I appreciate when you comment and when a review and when you rate and when you follow and of course when you share. So thank you all for doing that in advance. I think you’re amazing and I am so glad that you are all here.
Today I wanted to talk about dealing with rejection because this is something that every one of us going through a divorce deals with, whether it’s someone actually saying the words, I don’t want to be with you anymore, or it’s finding out about an affair or a porn addiction or something like that and then we interpret that to mean that we’ve been rejected – that we’re not wanted. Since we’ve all felt rejection we know that it really doesn’t feel good. It actually is very painful and feels terrible and this is why we try to avoid feeling rejection as much as possible.
So let’s talk about rejection and why it feels so terrible and why we try to avoid it at all costs. Rejection is something that is in our DNA. This idea has been passed down from our ancestors who knew that rejection from the tribe literally meant death. I was listening to Kara Loewentheil’s podcast the other day and she was talking about how the first indication of civilization was a skeleton with a healed broken leg, because if you broke your leg and were left on your own, you’d for sure die. Right? That meant that you were not part of the community. You were left to die. Just like when and animal has a broken limb and they then becomes the prey. But that healed broken bone indicates that a group of people took care of the person when they were at their weakest and when they were immobilized, and then protected them long enough that that bone could heal and they could get back to their regular life. It was an act of acceptance into the tribe. So survival to our ancestors literally meant acceptance into the tribe and rejection literally meant death. It meant that you were left for dead. You were prey at that point. We have a part of our brain that was passed down through our DNA from our ancestors that is a part of our brain. It’s the part of our brain that is primitive. It’s primal, it’s habitual, and is focused on keeping us safe. So our primitive brain continues to equate survival to acceptance and rejection to death, even though in today’s world rejection doesn’t mean this at all. Right? If somebody tells you they don’t like you or they don’t want to be married you you’re not literally going to die. But our brain interprets it that way and that is why it feels so terrible emotionally to us. We feel like death inside. Right? That’s why we try to avoid it at all costs.
This is what’s happening when you go through a divorce. You’re feeling at times the rejection and it feels so heavy and so terrible because your brain is literally equating the end of this marriage with being kicked out of the tribe and being left for dead.
So I see this showing up in a couple of different ways during divorce. The first way is you get rejected by the other partner. They actually say they want a divorce. They don’t want to be married anymore. Something like that. And because this feels so terrible to you, you often will do anything you can to possibly fix the situation. You people please to try and appease their feelings. You beg to be taken back, to work on it for the sake of the kids or promise to be different or to change in some way. You stay in the relationship far longer than is good for you because the fear of rejection is so much worse than the pain and suffering you’re feeling in your marriage, that you’re willing to suffer this pain rather than risk feeling the pain of rejection.
And the other way I see this showing up is you stay emotionally attached to your ex long after the divorce has been final because you don’t want to allow yourself to feel the rejection. You stay in love with this person. You don’t allow yourself to let go and move on. You don’t open yourself up to dating or finding a new relationship because you think the rejection is too hard to handle. You don’t want to feel that again. And you still haven’t fully moved through it and you believe you can’t handle being rejected again and again. You have this habit, this pattern, of seeing that you were rejected by this one person so what is stopping the next person from doing that and the next person and the next person. And so you live the rest of your life doing everything possible to avoid rejection but it also means living small because of the fear of what you might feel if you open yourself up again.
And here’s what’s really going on in both of these situations. You believe that because you were rejected by someone else, the only way to fix this feeling of rejection is to be accepted by the person who did the rejecting. Because if they accept you again, then you’ll be able to stop feeling this terrible thing and everything will be back to normal. Everything will be ok. You’ve trained your brain to think and react this way. You’ve been predisposed to thinking this way in your DNA like I just talked about and through society as a whole conditioning women that we’re only worthy if other people tell us we are – and without their approval of our worth, then of course that means we’re worthless. And we think if I can just show up and be good enough for them, then they’ll accept me again and I don’t have to feel rejected any more. I can then once again feel worthy. If I continue to hold onto this love, then down the road when they realize that I’m still here waiting, maybe they’ll accept me again and I can stop feeling rejected and feel good enough and accepted again.
But I want you to know this and understand this. Really listen to me here. You don’t have to wait around for the other person to recognize their mistake or to change their mind or to tell you you’re worthy or you’re valuable or you’re good enough so that you can feel accepted. You can stop feeling rejected any time and you don’t need anyone else to change their behavior towards you to do it. The key to this is learning to change how you’re thinking about all of it so that you can feel accepted.
Let me give you an example of this with my own life. I’m going to walk you through exactly what was happening in my situation, what was happening in my head and what was happening in my body when I was feeling rejected and then I’m going to give you some steps that you can take to deal with rejection when you feel it in your life.
So I had this experience the other day where I was in a group and I was answering a woman’s question. I’m in a lot of FB groups that range from my own interests and likes to being a single mom, to divorce support groups and so many different groups. So I have been known to participate in many different discussions and answer a lot of questions. I was answering a woman’s question the other day and someone else in the group commented back to my comment. Like I commented on someone’s post and then someone else commented on my post. We all do this. You get the idea. And when I read this person’s comment I immediately had an internal emotional reaction. And I say internal because every emotion that we feel is because of what we’re thinking and then our brain sends down chemicals into our bodies and our bodies react to those chemicals through sensations and vibrations that we feel in our bodies and if we’re paying attention enough to what’s going on we label those as an emotion. Here’s what happened to me. At this moment I wasn’t aware exactly of what I was thinking or even feeling yet at this moment. But internally I immediately felt my heartbeat increase and it became very fast. My breathing became more labored – my chest was heavy, it took much more effort to breathe in and breathe out. I had a dark, deep pit in my stomach that was a little churning and it was kind of painful. I noticed that my arms and legs were tense and tight and tingly. So I notice this almost immediately after reading this person’s comment. It’s all kind of happening simultaneously. And as I’m noticing this emotional reaction, I take a breath and I slow everything down. Meaning I start to take a look at what is happening in my brain and what is happening in my body simultaneously. And I start to question what is going on with me. This is all happening in my head. “Ok, interesting. I wonder why I’m having this emotional reaction.” As I’m wondering this I start asking myself questions to get curious and explore, because at this point I’m not 100% sure what I am feeling so I am trying to get curious to figure out what is even going on.
So I read through the comment again and I start asking myself some questions, “What are my thoughts about this comment?” And then I listed those out on a piece of paper. These were some of the things that came out. “She’s wrong. She doesn’t get it. Why can’t she see what I’m trying to say here? Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that. I wonder what she thinks of me? She probably is upset now.” And then, etc, etc, etc. There were so many other thoughts that came out when I asked myself that question. There was a whole list of thoughts and then I asked another question because I really wanted to narrow down what I was feeling and why I was feeling this way. So I asked myself, “What am I making her words mean about me?” And the answer came back, that my opinion is not good enough and now I’m going to get kicked out of the group. People don’t like me. They’re going to think I’m stupid for even saying this.” And once I had this realization that I was thinking this, it hit me immediately that this emotional response that I was having in my body was rejection. I was feeling rejected.
Now I want you to understand how quickly this all went down and it wasn’t until I really slowed everything down after the fact that I was able to become aware of what was really going on in this moment. So here’s what happened, I read the comment, I had all of those thoughts that jumbled together in my head, and instantly I felt the emotional reaction in my body. This happened instantaneously. And this is how it goes with our emotional responses. We often aren’t aware at all in the moment what our thoughts are that are creating that internal emotional response. But we know that something is happening and we are feeling something that doesn’t feel good.
This is what is happening in our minds and in our bodies when we are feeling rejected. We have a bunch of thoughts about being told they no longer want to be with us, or we are interpreting things as being rejected, and then our bodies instantly react with the sensation of rejection. It feels really terrible because it feels like a combination of several emotions. It feels like shame because we think we’ve done something wrong. There is something wrong with us and we did it wrong and how do we fix this. And then we also feel the form of anxiety about what this rejection will mean for our future self and life. And then when you combine those two together and we feel that rejection it feels really scary and terrible.
But this is what’s so fascinating about rejection that I want to point out. For so many of us who are divorced we had a literal rejection from our ex at the beginning of the divorce where we were told I don’t want to be married anymore. I don’t want to be with you anymore. We heard those words and then felt that rejection. That rejection happened one time. Probably every one of us, even if that isn’t what happened with our divorce, every one of us has been through some kind of break up and have actually been told no at some point. And so we heard those words and we felt the rejection. And truly we wouldn’t be so afraid of rejection if it only happened one time in her life, or every once in a while. But because we have this part of our DNA that is equating rejection with literal death, our brain is constantly scanning for signs of rejection to try and protect us. It doesn’t want us to feel that way so it’s trying to look for things to keep us away from feeling that.
This is why we tend to feel this terrible feeling much more regularly even when we’re not actually being rejected. This is what happened in my example that I gave you and it’s what most of you are doing on a regular basis to yourself.
So let me go back to my example of when I felt rejected. Here’s the facts of what actually happened. I wrote some words. Someone else wrote words about my words. This person didn’t say no. This person didn’t say I don’t want to be around you. This person didn’t say get out of this group in any literal form. But because my brain was constantly scanning for rejection to try to protect me, it interpreted this person’s words as a form of rejection and then I felt rejected and I had that emotional response inside my body. I wasn’t actually being rejected. I was making her words mean that what I said something that wasn’t good enough; that was stupid; that wasn’t valid and then I felt rejected.
This is what is happening to most of you on a regular basis when you’re feeling rejected. You’re constantly scanning and asking yourself is this good enough? What are they thinking of me? They probably think I’m stupid. I never do it right. Thoughts like this. And because you have this unconscious part of your brain scanning for danger and scanning for rejection, you’re subconsciously looking for all of the evidence that you’re doing it wrong, and you’re not enough, and you never do it right and then you feel rejected over and over and over again. This is why so many of us feel so terrible all the time after divorce and we feel stuck like we can’t move on. Because we’re continually recreating the feeling of rejection for ourselves by what we’re making everything around us mean. By how our brain is interpreting all of these situations. And because most of us haven’t learned to intentionally or consciously direct our brain to look for what we are doing right instead of focusing on what we’re doing wrong and to look for ways to accept ourselves, we just continue to stay in this cycle of perceived rejection.
So what’s the answer then? How do you get out of this cycle of constantly feeling rejected and instead feel accepted? You do this by learning to be more intentional about what you’re thinking and making things mean. You do this by learning to accept yourself. You don’t need other people to change and accept you in order to feel better. The only thing you need to work on is yourself.
Let me show you how. Let’s go back to my example of feeling rejected. When I was trying to figure out what I was feeling I asked myself the question, “What am I making this comment mean about me?” So you can ask yourself that question and then write down everything that comes up for you. Or if that question doesn’t jog any thoughts to come up you can try a different version and ask, “Why do I feel rejected right now?” Again, write down your answers because those answers are going to show you how your brain is interpreting the situation and it’s that interpretation that is causing you to feel rejected. Also I want you to notice, in my situation this person wasn’t actually rejecting me. I was rejecting me by thinking that my comment wasn’t good enough. By thinking that my comment wasn’t valid or was stupid or that she was judging me in some way. You will begin notice this too as you go through this exercise. The rejection is coming from you and what you’re making it mean about you.
Once you’ve answered those questions and begin to see that you’re creating the rejection for yourself, that’s when you can start to work on the deeper work of accepting yourself. I talked earlier about when we feel rejected we often think that we need the other person to change how they feel about us in order to feel accepted. But that isn’t true at all.
So with my example of the woman’s comment, if that were true, if I didn’t know anything about mindset work and I was feeling rejected, it would make sense that I would need to convince her that she’s wrong and I’m right and once I did that then she would accept me again and then I could feel better. But in reality I don’t need this woman to do anything different for me to feel accepted or for me to feel better. What I need to do is I need to think about myself in a different way. I need to accept myself. I need to believe that what I was saying in that comment was valid. I need to accept that my opinion has merit. I need to see myself as worthy and enough exactly as I am. That’s where the deeper work is. And how do I do this? I do this by practicing thinking in a new way so that I can rewire my brain to accept myself more often than I am right now.
One way to do this is to work on liking yourself. This is really important work and it’s ongoing work. It’s work that I’m going to do for the rest of my life. It’s work that you will do for the rest of your life, but it is so important for every one of us to learn to like ourselves. I have a really great podcast episode on learning to love yourself that will help you get started on this part of accepting yourself so if you haven’t listened to that episode make sure and go back and listen to it. It’s episode #6.
The other thing you can do is redefine what the other person’s behavior meant that had nothing to do with you in those situations where you’re feeling rejected. Ask yourself this question, “Why did this person behave in this way that has nothing to do with me?” Answer that question and try to come up with 3 possible ways. Write your answers down because that will help your brain recognize that their behavior really had nothing to do with you, and the rejection was really coming from your own insecurities and your own inadequacies.
So as you go throughout your week I want you to begin to notice the times when you’re feeling rejected and how that rejection is coming from yourself. How are you rejecting you and how can you turn it around? How can you be kind to yourself? How can you begin to accept yourself and how can you redefine those moments in a way that has nothing to do with you?
If you are tired of feeling rejected constantly and you want to learn to like yourself and you want to treat yourself with kindness. If you are ready to really learn that you are valuable and you are worthy and that you matter, and if you’re tired of feeling sad and rejected and like you’re not good enough, then I really want you to take a minute and answer the question, why haven’t I scheduled a free consult with Karin yet? Why haven’t you? What is stopping you from changing your life right now? Because I can help you learn to like yourself, I can help you be kind and to stop rejecting yourself. I can teach you how to feel better, but you have to be willing to be honest with yourself and be honest about creating change in your life. If you’re ready to do that and you truly want change then right now is the perfect time for you to schedule a free consult with me. You can click the link in the description to schedule that today. I can’t wait to talk to you.
That’s it for today’s podcast. I’ll talk to you next week.
If you like what you heard on today’s podcast and you want to know more about working 1:1 with me, you can go to www.karinnelsoncoaching.com and schedule your free consult to find out more. That’s www dot Karin nelson coaching dot com.
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