“Rejection is just protection and redirection.”
Let’s get one thing straight: there’s nothing cool about not getting what you want.
It’s disappointing, frustrating, and sometimes heart-wrenching.
Whether it’s a lost promotion you tirelessly worked toward, your dream partner who chose somebody else, or a missed opportunity to travel with friends, it will always be hard when something doesn’t work out quite as expected.
A toddler would stomp around the room howling, screaming, and throwing a tantrum until their parents gave them what they wanted, but those tactics won’t work once you’re all grown up. You have to put on your big-girl/boy pants and deal with reality.
Most of the time we can make peace with how things are and move on, but it’s a lot harder to walk away from the desires that you hold close to your heart, the dreams in which you invested yourself wholeheartedly and came so close to achieving – those sting the most.
Speak to any silver medalist, and they will attest to this emotion. In any competitive sport, there are clear winners and losers. We might expect that the happiest would be mirrored in the order of the wins: gold, silver, and bronze medalists yet, according to psychologists in Cornell University, bronze winners are often more pleased than silver. This is due to a phenomenon known as counterfactual thinking, where people compare their objective achievement to what ‘could have been’. The focus of a silver medalist is on almost winning the gold. The bronze medalist, on the other hand, would focus on the possibility of not having won a medal at all. So, even though bronze winners have lower achievement than silver, they are happier.
The bottom line is that the condition of your inner state after a lost opportunity depends entirely on your perspective and attitude. The good news is that it’s the one part of the situation that you can control. Recently, I’ve had to reckon with the reality that something I’ve wanted for years is not going to happen. For many long days, a tug-of-war ensued between my ego and my wiser self. My ego didn’t want to let go of my long-held vision, while my Higher Self tried to loosen its grip with reason. It soon became apparent that resisting the truth would be a significant drain on my energy. Intuitive healer, Caroline Myss says, “just let go. Let go of how you thought your life should be and embrace the life that is trying to work into your consciousness.”
Instead of going against the natural flow of life, we have to learn to ride the wave, trusting that it’ll take us to the right place for our soul’s growth. We have to realize that our wants and desires aren’t the sole determinants of outcomes. We are part of a complex and dynamic universe with many invisible forces that affect situations, including our personal ones.
When seen from a spiritual lens, we’ll understand that there is always a purpose behind not getting what we want. We may not see it immediately, and that’s when faith becomes essential. It fortifies us with the strength and resilience to push forward, no matter how crestfallen we are.
If you’re having a tough time coping with not getting something deeply important to you, here are four steps you can take to feel better and use it as an opportunity for growth:
1. Give yourself time to grieve: Burying our feelings is the worst thing that we can do. These bottled-up emotions fester in our systems and cause us to experience sadness, anger, and other unresolved sentiments. Instead of tiptoeing around our feelings, we need to walk straight into them. We must allow ourselves to feel the pain so that we can leave the past behind with a sense of peace and wisdom. Practices such as journaling, personal care rituals, and speaking with someone you trust like a friend or counselor, can help process these feelings.
2. Learn from the experience: Not getting what we want offers a tremendous opportunity for growth. Reflect on questions such as: “What could I have done differently?” “Are there other options that I may have missed?” “What is this experience trying to teach me?”. A consistent lesson that I picked up from my experiences is learning the art of knowing when to quit and cut my losses. I had to learn to recognize when to stop banging on doors that would never open.
3. Get back to the drawing board: After regaining your balance, the next step is for you to go back to the drawing board armed with the new-found knowledge you’ve gained, and use it to create a better life for yourself. For example, if you were unable to secure the job that you were hoping for, you can resume your search by aiming for opportunities that you’re better suited for and enhancing your resume with skills that make you a stronger candidate.
4. Pay attention to your intuition and signs: A lot of the times we can avoid being disappointed by rejection and loss by listening to our intuition. When something is not working out, we can usually sense it in our gut – but most people choose to ignore it. Instead, they are led by their ego’s hard-driving ways to win. The universe will also send us signs about whether or not we are on a path that will lead to expansion and growth. Oprah Winfrey once said, “difficulties happen when you don’t pay attention to life’s whispers which sooner or later become a scream.”
The next time that you don’t get what you want, remind yourself that there is a higher plan at play that you aren’t able to see right now. When you step back and allow events to unfold naturally, you engage in the co-creative process of manifesting an incredible journey.
All my best on your journey,
Reflection Question: How do you generally react when you’re experiencing loss and rejection? Is there anything you’d like to change about how you deal with it?
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