* 6 minute read *
Have you ever noticed how the same problems or types of problems can seem to pop up in your life time and time again?
For me, one of those problems is rejection. In the past my life has been heavily impacted by a fear of rejection and a fear of rejecting.
This issue of rejection has continued to appear frequently in my life in a few ways:
- Fear of rejection has prevented me from taking action in choosing and pursuing the kinds of relationships I want
- Fear of rejection has prevented me from speaking my truth to others, setting clear personal boundaries and standing up for myself and what I believe in
- Fear of rejecting has prevented me from expressing my preferences toward others, in the fear that I might hurt their feelings (and this in turn would lead them to rejecting me)
The frequency with which these kinds of experiences have appeared for me over the last few weeks has been freakish enough for me to stop and say:
Hey! What’s going on here? There’s got to be something bigger at play! What is the lesson that I’m supposed to learn from all of this?
Here’s an idea to consider:
We attract the problems we need, until we learn the lesson.
I’ve heard this message plenty of times before but the real light bulb moment came for me on Friday morning while we were running our first ever Random Act of Awesome.
We’ll be covering Friday’s RAOA in more detail in a later post, but to give you a bit of an idea of what happened, between 7:30am and 8:00am, 11 of us from the Be Awesome crew set up in one of Brisbane’s busiest CBD commuter transit points, Anzac Square. Armed with 500 stickers that said ‘Hi , I’m Awesome!’ and proudly wearing our Be Awesome t-shirts, we each individually connected with random strangers passing through the square, telling them that they are awesome, giving them a sticker and wishing them an awesome day!
Overall it was a beautiful and empowering experience. I got to see the eyes of several hundred people light up in that tiny moment of human connection that we shared, and I sensed the ripple effect that this small act of joy would have on these people and those that they connected with during the day.
However, there was one small experience that wasn’t so enjoyable.
A young girl approached in my direction with her boyfriend and as I had in my previous encounters, I looked her in the eye, smiled and said “Hi, I want you to know that I think that you’re awesome and I want you to wear this sticker!”. As I gestured to give her the sticker she aggressively replied “Don’t you dare!”
Woah!! This threw me back for a moment as I felt that familiar feeling of rejection.
But wait! There has to be a lesson here!
This girl didn’t even know me! She couldn’t possibly make a fair judgement on the spot that I was a bad person and worthy of being rejected. I started to think about other similar experiences in the past where I’d felt unfairly rejected and suddenly the lesson was clear:
Rejection is not a rejection of me it’s an expression of incompatibility.
The truth is that the Be Awesome message was incompatible with this girl in that particular moment. For whatever reason, she had her own stuff going on and she was just not open to hearing that she was awesome there and then. And that’s totally cool, she’s on her own journey and it has nothing to do with me.
Seeing rejection just as incompatibility has also helped me to say “no” and express my preferences to others. I realise now that when I say “no” to someone, I’m not rejecting them, I’m simply expressing an incompatibility.
Overcoming the fear of rejection and rejecting is still an ongoing process for me, but its challenging experiences like Friday and hearing stories like Jia’s that help me build emotional “muscle“. I know I’m getting stronger, I can feel the burn of “rejection” hurting less and less each time. I’m starting to see rejection as the universe’s way of protecting me from something I don’t need. What a gift!
So, I’m curious:
- What is a common problem or issue that continues to pop up for you?
- What could the lesson be at the heart of this problem?
- Who do you need to become (what kind of behaviour) for this to not be a problem in your life anymore?
- Can you look back on past problems that you have overcome, with gratitude for the experience they’ve given you?
Gratitude is your key to freedom and breaking free from self-pity, judgement and being stuck. I challenge you to choose to try to see the lesson in every problem with gratitude and patience.
Til next week, Be Awesome!
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