You know what's been on my mind lately? Rejection. Yup. The record player just scratched to a halt and everyone is staring in concern. Because rejection is scary and uncomfortable...to say the least.
But let's all have a real moment. Rejection is a part of life ALL the time.
Whether we acknowledge it or not. I've been thinking about rejection because one of you recently wrote in and asked for a joy tip on rejection. I thought yeah! Great topic! Huge hurdle!
These last 16 months have been a HUGE lesson in rejection. To be an entrepreneur you gotta swim with the best of them in rejection waters. Because the truth is, I'll get more no's than yes's in my business. And what I've learned is that's not just ok, it's actually perfect. Not just in my business, but in my life.
My yoga teacher Sri Dharma Mittra says that "everything is perfect" and that's easy to remember during the bright times, but how can you remember that during the tough times like during rejection?
These last four years have been a huge lesson in rejection. First, let me talk about my hardest rejection...in my marriage. It feels like a scary and vulnerable topic to write about because I haven't said much about it to anyone in my life...ever. Only a handful of people have heard snippets of my story, or seen a window into my pain and healing.
Let's set the scene. I'm on my way to the airport. My husband was returning from a trip back to home to Egypt where his family is from. I was feeling both anxious and excited. His trip was meant to be a trip to get perspective, to refresh, and reboot. The truth is we had been struggling to keep dancing to the same tune for a while, but we loved each other so much. I was hopeful this trip and some space might have done the trick. Maybe, we'd finally be dancing the same tune again. Or start to figure out how to get our DJ to play a new song we both liked. I was wrong.
After I picked him up from the airport with naive teenager-like hopes and butterflies that we'd find our groove again, I knew something was off. Energetically he was distant. You know that space you feel even when sitting close to someone like you are Universes apart? The most painful distance a human being can experience with someone they love. He was pulling away without physically pulling away and immediately my head and my heart went into panic. I tried to play it cool like everything was great, pulling from the bottom of my resilience barrel, scraping for optimism and then I heard the most Earth shattering words..."I think we should divorce," he said while driving us home. At that point, it felt like the ground was shaking and Armageddon was beginning. While it shouldn't have surprised me when I look back at it in retrospect, it did. How often do we see rejection coming from someone we care about and yet not at the same time? That was me. Right there.
Rejection from the people we care about most, even when the going get's tough, still hits us so so hard. And nothing can prepare us for it until the moment we feel it.
I remember ringing in my ears and struggling to figure out where reality was. It hit me like a tons of bricks. If I'm honest, I don't remember much after that. I do know I balled my eyes out. Shock is the best way to describe what I was feeling. And the years to come brought waves of grief, anger, sadness, second guessing, and reaffirming decisions. I'm still healing from that moment and what led up to it, but the one thing that carries me through the waves of grief that come when my body is ready to release and metabolize them is knowledge that everything truly is perfect. Even the moments when we feel like we can hardly, or may never, bring ourselves to get up off of the floor.
Here's what I know. Rejection honey, is not about you...it's about them.
And THAT's the hardest thing for rejection with me. I'm a problem solver. If you're rejecting me, business, personal or otherwise, I'm determined to figure it out and fix it. In my marriage, I was determined to problem solve my way out of it ending. I was holding on for dear life to what was...not showing up to what is. What I've learned business, personal, or otherwise, is that it's not for me to fix, because it's not my deal. It's their's. Whoever that is. Whether it's my ex-husband, a client, or a friend.
Does it take two to create a situation? Absolutely. But here's why it's about them. I can't convince someone who doesn't want to be in a relationship with me to be in one. I can't convince the friend who's distanced herself from me to draw near. I can't convince the client I know would have so many ahhhmazing breakthroughs by working together with me that she is absolutely brave enough to tread those waters. I can't. And on the flip side, no one can do the same with me.
I recently started an experiment with my stuff in my apartment. All my clothes, books, papers, the whole lot. I've been sorting through them. And as I've been working through it all, I'm reminded that material possessions like Marie Kondo suggests, have a purpose and a shelf life. And guess what, so do people and situations.
We all serve a purpose in each other's lives. Once that purpose is fulfilled, we part.
We morph into something else. For some connections, that purpose destiny is this entire lifetime. For others, that connection is destined to live it's life cycle in six months. In eight years. In twenty. In one week. The hardest part for me, has been embracing this understanding even though I truly believe it with all my heart.
I love people. And if I've loved you at one point in my life, I'll always have a love for you. It's just how my heart works. And for me, that means I always want to be connected to everyone I've ever loved. But it doesn't work like that. In fact, one of the greatest acts of saying "I love you" was my divorce. Because my ex and I loved each other so much, we knew without a doubt, we had to say goodbye. The purpose, the timeline, the journey had been fulfilled together. And we held onto it a little past it's expiration date. As he helped me move into my new apartment with my family by my side, we both shed tears as he dropped off the last box and walked out the door. I wanted to wail in sorrow and dance in delight at the same time. It is perhaps one of the strangest feelings I've ever felt. And it was the feeling of knowing everything is perfect and our purpose with each other was complete...even amidst the pain.
"How do you turn rejection by someone you care deeply about into something positive?" is the question I received. For this Joy Tip Wednesday, here are some ideas on how to get some perspective:
- Turn it into an invitation. An invitation for the next phase of your life.
- Know that rejection is a beckoning from the Universe saying, just wait until you see what I have for you next.
- Receive it as a love note to let you know that you are enough, so, so, loved, and that the Universe is releasing you from a connection that has served it's purpose.
- See rejection as the opportunity to know that it's not about you, it's about them. Oh, and it's not your job to fix it.
- Standing in knowing a "no," makes room for a "yes." A "good bye" makes room for a "hello."
- Sometimes the best "I love you" is indeed..."good bye."
- Take stock of all other loved ones you have in your life, knowing that your pot is so much fuller than perhaps you recognize.
- Focus on the moments you are grateful for with that person, and what this "parting" will make possible. More downtime with friends? More time for your hobbies? Sleep? That karate class you used to always go to?
I get it. Rejection is tough. And even when we focus on the positive, what we have to realize, is that it still can hurt. And it probably will! You're human after all. Me too! Embrace the whole bit. The dark and the light and everything in between. While I was so relieved after I got divorced and literally had a dance party one late night loudly to music while eating pizza and watching a chick flick, I also had nights of deep sorrowful sobbing. And what I knew in the moments when I was soaked in tears, is that just because I felt sad, angry, even despairing at times, I knew there was a greater purpose in it all. I had faith that the biggest heart break of my fairy tale ending would bare great great fruit that I could not see. That I may not see for months, years, decades. But I knew, I had total faith, that nothing is without purpose. And because of that faith, that spark of trust deep down inside, this blog was born. I had the courage to leave my 9-5 office job. I followed my joy of coaching and teaching. And even now when it feels like I've had so many great coaching calls with potential clients who later say "no" I know the "yes's" are out there. I know the people I'm meant to connect with and have a purposeful journey with are out there. And that even though I went through the hardest heartbreak of my life, I have faith that my heart one day will love perhaps even bigger than before and that I can get swept off my feet into a beautiful, loving, nourishing, partnership once again.
How can you be positive after being rejected? The question is not how, but how can you not? Feel the feelings. Experience the experience. Seize this moment as the greatest opportunity of your life. Because my greatest lessons have come from the darkest moments. Have your's?