Dealing with “rejection” is one of the hardest things for many of us to learn, especially when we lack deep inner confidence. It's taken a long time for me to get a handle on, but I'm definitely getting better at handling rejection these days.
At a recent Love, Intimacy and Sexuality workshop run by The Human Awareness Institute, I found myself dealing with rejection right from the word go. Our very first task was to choose a buddy for the weekend, and I immediately found myself drawn to the most attractive woman in the room.
Problem was, so was another guy. And she chose him over me.
Before I knew it, that story was running in my head about other guys being better than me in some way: more attractive, sexier, more desirable. But the good thing was that the voice telling the story wasn't as loud as it used to be, and the unpleasant feeling it created in me wasn't as overwhelming. I'd been “rejected” in favor of another guy, but I was doing OK.
The very next exercise involved picking a partner, and again the same woman sprang straight to mind. I knew if I didn't act immediately, that voice in my head would start making up a big dramatic story about how she'd already rejected me once and so she obviously didn't like me. Why go back for more self-flagellation?
Because if you don't ask, you don't get what you want. Anyway, she hadn't “rejected me”, with all the associated dramatic sounds of violins playing in the background of my head; she'd simply made a choice in a moment, and that's what we were all there at the workshop to learn to do: live at choice.
So before the voice in my head could dissuade me any further, I went straight up to her and asked “Would you like to work with me?”. She smiled, “Sure; I'd love to!”. And we did. Awesome exercise too. Boy, was I glad I asked!
We make up all kinds of dramatic stories in our heads when we encounter “rejection”, and these stories can make us feel pretty bad about ourselves. Rejection stings when it reminds us of the times that we missed out on something we really wanted as a kid; be it love, affection, or that cool Lego set we really wanted for Christmas. As a result we told ourselves that we weren't good enough, and that's painful. Being reminded of our unhealed emotional pain is never pleasant.
But the irony is that despite the stories we make up in our heads, what we think of as rejection isn't even about us. Here are a few reasons why:
Your Disowned Shadow Repels Women
Swiss Psychiatrist Carl Jung recognized that all of us have a shadow side that we don't like to acknowledge. It lurks in our subconscious and contains the parts of ourselves that we are ashamed of, our unhealed emotional baggage from the past, and our biggest blind spots. We don't like to recognize it, and certainly don't like to reveal it to other people. Our unacknowledged shadow has tremendous power over us, and the fact that we are secretive and ashamed of it is what gives it so much power.
Other people can often sense what is going on in our shadow even better than we can, and that's one reason women may feel uncomfortable when they first meet us. Ever noticed that guys who are completely at ease with their sexual desire seem to have women falling for them left, right and center, while creepy guys get told off by women for only wanting sex?
The problem isn't that the creepy guy wants sex; the problem is that his creepiness makes women feel uncomfortable around him, and women hate feeling uncomfortable. In fact, everyone does. We come across as creepy whenever the disowned baggage in our shadow is activated. When we learn to totally own our dark side, we start acting with greater internal congruence and other people get to relax around us because we're not subconsciously sending mixed messages all the time.
We're all subconsciously broadcasting the insecurities of our disowned shadow side to other people all the time, and they're picking it up subconsciously too. So you've got to learn to love your shadow side if you want to make people feel really comfortable around you. Especially women.
So it's not really you that women reject when you haven't accepted your shadow side, it's the uncomfortable way the mixed messages from your subconscious makes them feel that they're trying to avoid.
We All Project Our Shadow Onto Other People
The other thing to remember about the shadow is that everyone projects the disowned baggage in their shadow onto other people. If there's something you don't like or find off-putting about someone else, especially if you can't quite put your finger on it, it's because they have triggered something in your shadow that you haven't dealt with yet. That makes you feel uncomfortable, but rather than owning that discomfort it's easier to project the feeling onto the other person and decide that you just don't like them.
But it's not really about them; it's about you. Again, this happens subconsciously. Despite our best intentions, we're all projecting our disowned shadow onto other people all the time, and they're doing the same thing to us.
So if a woman decides that she doesn't like you, it's because you've triggered something in her shadow side that she hasn't dealt with. Simply approaching her for a conversation could trigger her fear of strangers. Or perhaps you've been overtly sexual towards her and she's got a Catholic upbringing worth of sexual shame buried in her subconscious, ready to be triggered at a moments notice. Maybe you remind her of her first boyfriend who cheated on her and whom she hasn't really forgiven. Or any one of a zillion other reasons which really have nothing to do with you.
Once you really start to understand deep down that rejection is about other people's projections onto you, and isn't really about you at all, rejection starts to lose its sting.
Women Reject An Approach, Not You Personally
When you're approaching a woman you don't know, it's important to remember that she doesn't know you from a bar of soap. She really has nothing to go on other than the way that you present yourself when you approach her. If you're friendly, likeable, interesting, charming, and make her feel good... chances are she'll feel comfortable around you and won't reject your approach. If you're nervous, self-conscious, needy, desperate and wanting something from her you'll probably make her feel uncomfortable and get the opposite reaction.
Either way, it's about your approach rather than about you personally. The attitude and motivation you adopt makes a big difference: do you just enjoy making people feel good by being around you, or do you just want sexual gratification from her? Are you a giver or a taker? Women want to feel comfortable around you before any fireworks are going to start for her, so the intent behind your approach her makes a big difference.
Nobody can get to know the real you in the first couple of minutes of a conversation. The problem for a lot of guys is that we just haven't ever learned how to get out of our own way and be real with a woman we've just met, so we end up creeping her out. Putting people at ease around you is something you can learn by developing your social skills.
Every woman is different, and an approach that works brilliantly with one may not work with another. Her current mood plays a huge part too. What didn't work with her now may have worked just fine in an hours time.
Remember that any time you feel you've been rejected, it's your approach that didn't work; it's not about you. Learn the social skills to fine-tine the way you interact with women when you first meet, and you'll find yourself having less and less rejection to deal with.
Rejection Won't Kill You
The final thing to remember is that rejection won't kill you. In fact, it has the potential to heal you by triggering your unhealed emotional pain and bringing to your conscious awareness. If you deal with this constructively by being nurturing towards yourself, you gradually heal it. The problem for most guys is that we avoid rejection so completely that we never get the opportunity to really deal with the pain that we've buried around not getting our needs met.
If you want to learn to put your rejection issues behind you, you're going to need to experience more rejection rather than less. That's how you learn to deal with it. Start asking for what you what in all circumstances, and notice how you react when you get it and when you don't. Go for what you want in life without being so attached to the outcome and learn to deal with the inevitable disappointment that happens on the occasions that you don't get it. Let go of needing to get what you want, so you can be more free to ask for it. This is tough at first when you've led a life of avoidance but now it's time to man-up and learn that rejection isn't the big deal that you've been telling yourself it is.
Build genuine confidence and you'll find your resilience against rejection growing. You may even learn to laugh when someone turns you down because you can see their shadow projection and insecurities playing out. The less emotionally triggered you are around rejection, the more you'll be able to roll with the punches from life and from women.