What Rejection Really Is


Rejection can feel quite bad. It is one of the three top human fears. The other two are not believing I am loveable and the fear of looking stupid. We are not including fears like of heights or snakes etc. These are fears grounded in interactions between humans.

I just experienced a quite noticeable rejection. I had sent an email to my address list which included my annual crocus poem. I watch for the first sprouts of crocus and when I see some, I write this amateur, intended to be fun, poem to everyone in my address list. Sometimes a person I have had very little contact with responds requesting that I not send my poem next year, or ever again. OK. I remove them from my mailing list, tell them I have done so and explain that this is a once per year thing and it won’t happen again. Most respond with ‘thank you’ or something like that. Most, not all. Today I got one that called me out for not having an opt out on my email (I wouldn’t have such a thing on my ordinary emails to people already in my address book, because I would have met them, received a business card, all that). I explained that and promised that their email address had been removed. So, next I was called down, told that I had a bad attitude. Frankly it felt close to nasty.

So now what? I did not respond as I figured they were not in a space to attempt to heal whatever rift they thought had opened between us. Just went for my walk. Except, that I kept thinking about it. I turned it over in my mind, double checked my language, struggled to accept that this one person out of my email list of over 800 people had rejected me. …and, that it was all my fault.

Notice the headspace I was carrying around. I had created a space that had no door out. Rejection is ‘someone else’ putting me down. Even if some might say the situation justified it, how long I give power over my headspace to this other person, is my own choice. Do I recommend tossing the relationship immediately? No. But let us be clear, the magnitude of the violation here was that I had sent a poem to announce the arrival of crocus (been doing that since 2005 btw). Maybe this other person just would not tolerate even one more email at the moment mine came in. So, boom, out, take me off your list!

When I realized that it was me that was feeding the idea of rejection, I laughed out loud at how silly and completely unhelpful that was to me or to anyone else for that matter.

Rejection happens. Sometimes it is appropriate to put considerable energy into attempts to heal the rift. There comes a time that it is just best to go for a walk, have a chuckle at myself and write an article (that I believe will be helpful) about it all.

What rejection eventually becomes is me rejecting me, in my head. Almost zero to do with anyone else.

Joseph Seiler MCC