How many of you are familiar with rejection? – I am guessing everyone.
From little daily nuances in society to the beast of them all; heartbreak.
And why do they call it heartbreak? – Because it literally feels as if your heart is being ripped from your chest.
But why does it feel so physical?
“The answer is — our brains are wired to respond that way. When scientists placed people in functional MRI machines and asked them to recall a recent rejection, they discovered something amazing. The same areas of our brain become activated when we experience rejection as when we experience physical pain. That’s why even small rejections hurt more than we think they should, because they elicit literal (albeit, emotional) pain.” – Guy Winch
Makes sense right?! Sure.
What still puzzles me though is the question of what causes one particular rejection to feel more or less earth shattering than another?
Law of attraction would answer, that the further out of alignment your thoughts are with that of well being the worse you feel about the catalyst of those feelings. So, if our thoughts determine our emotions than everything is self fulfilling…
That’s heavy and it kinda sucks in a way. That would mean that we hold ALL responsibility for the way we feel.
But it doesn’t have to suck. It just depends on how you look at it.
Through the filters of modern society, we tend to feel helpless. We are conditioned to rely on others for validation.
Think about it.
We are brought into this world codependent & helpless and continue through life seeking the approval from those around us.
No wonder we struggle. We are, as Abraham would say, “looking for love in all the wrong places”.
The power we seek is not in the love we receive from others, but rather in the love we have for ourselves.
But how does this help to answer the question of what causes one particular rejection to feel more or less earth shattering than another?
I think Don Miguel Ruiz explains it best in the excerpt below from The Four Agreements.
“Every human has an emotional body completely covered with infected wounds…The mind is so wounded and full of poison by the process of domestication, that everyone describes the wounded mind as normal. This is considered normal, but I can tell you it is not normal.
We have a dysfunctional dream of the planet, and humans are mentally sick with a disease called fear. The symptoms of the disease are all the emotions that make humans suffer: anger, hate, sadness, envy, and betrayal. When the fear is too great, the reasoning mind begins to fail, and we call this mental illness. Psychotic behavior occurs when the mind is so frightened and the wounds so painful, that it seems better to break contact with the outside world.
If we can see our state of mind as a disease, we find there is a cure. We don’t have to suffer any longer. First we need the truth to open the emotional wounds, take the poison out, and heal the wounds completely. How do we do this? We must forgive those we feel have wronged us, not because they deserve to be forgiven, but because we love ourselves so much we don’t want to keep paying for injustice.
Forgiveness is the only way to heal.”
It sounds logical and simple enough, but I think we can all agree it’s not.
I would love to tell you that I have mastered the art of forgiveness, conquered my fears and cured my diseased mind, but that would be a big fat lie.
What I can tell you is that I know what it is like to feel alone, helpless and out of control; to constantly be reaching for a peace that never comes. I fight with my thoughts daily and sometimes it feels as though that inner voice is not my own.
In moments of great weakness, I begin to listen to that voice, that poison, dripping slowly from my open wounds. Reminding me of how I always end up this way; disregarded and alone.
The darkness becomes warm and familiar in the face of yet another failed attempt at happiness.
Not too long ago in fact, I took a little stroll down memory lane and found myself in the darkness.
After the most recent prospect of love crashed and burned, I was left feeling hopeless. I was exhausted of letting people in and being let down, of always being the one reaching for another, when no one ever seemed to be reaching for me.
And I couldn’t understand why this one hurt so much more than the one before. Especially because it was casual, no empty promises or deep confessions of love like with the one just before.
Perhaps it was the abrupt ending or the strong foundation of trust and communication it was built on that contributed to the gravity of it all.
Alone in the dark, I replayed the memories of our time together, looking for something I did that caused him to change his mind. Was it something I said, the way I looked, how I dressed…?!
I drove myself crazy trying to figure out what was wrong with me and why everyone found it so easy to walk away. Why didn’t I matter?
After some painful soul searching and ugly crying, I found myself numb.
It was just for a moment, but it was enough of a relief to allow a wave of sanity to roll through my head.
I had just purchased another copy of Ruiz’s, The Four Agreements and in that moment the cover of the book flashed in my mind.
Flipping through it, I found the excerpt above (can you guess what inspired this post?).
I realized that these current feelings of abandonment, neglect and disappointment go back much further than this most recent rejection. And I believe now that it was the level of connection with this person that triggered the opening of old wounds. I have only had that type of connection with one other person in my life and they left too.
This was the first time, I felt like I could fully trust someone again after all that time.
With the last person I fell for, I was always on guard. I never fully let him in. When it ended, it hurt, but not like this. Not like every muscle in my body was twisted up in knots.
This time, I allowed myself to be vulnerable and got completely caught up in the excitement of the moment. It all felt easy and fun, no pressure or obligations, just pure enjoyment in being close to one another.
When everything came to a crashing halt, so did I.
But that’s how we learn right?!
“First we need the truth to open the emotional wounds, take the poison out, and heal the wounds completely.”
It’s funny how we convince ourselves that sparing someones feelings as best you can in love and war is better than a clear cut rejection like, “I’m sorry, I just don’t feel the same way.”
Sure, the knife goes in a bit deeper, but it twists less and after all isn’t that what prolongs the torture and agony of a broken heart?
For example, years ago, a guy told me he really cared for me but that he didn’t want to do the whole relationship thing. He has had two girlfriends since then, one of which he is currently dating. I kept hanging on to the idea of us, thinking that someday the timing would be right and it would all work out.
I don’t fault him for it, it is hard to look someone in the eyes and tell them you don’t love them. It’s like leaving behind a stray dog or telling a kid their parakeet died…not a pleasant experience.
Would it have been nice to know months earlier that he just wasn’t that into me, sure, but I learned a great deal about myself in the process and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
Seems like so long ago now, I remember there was a time I thought I would never get over him and now he is just someone I used to know.
When we are feeling broken, we have a tendency to cling to the smallest shred of hope that someday everything will work out…
Here is where the hard truth comes in.
In most cases, someday never comes. Trust me.
It is best to be honest with others and yourself in times such as these.
Clinging to the past, clouds your judgement, hinders your growth, and more importantly, prevents you from moving forward.
Embrace the chaos of opening old wounds. You have to remove the poison before they can fully heal.
“How do we do this?
We must forgive those we feel have wronged us, not because they deserve to be forgiven, but because we love ourselves so much we don’t want to keep paying for injustice.
Forgiveness is the only way to heal.”