Updated: Mar 13, 2020
It has taken me decades to finally open my eyes and look directly at one of my most painful emotional triggers: rejection. We all have emotional wounds, and if we keep our eyes closed to the pain, we'll never see what causes those wounds to reopen, and we will never heal. Instead, we will find clever ways of avoiding triggers and our own suffering.
I've come to realize that the avoidance of rejection has been harmful to me because it has created roadblocks to potential life paths that could be enriching and rewarding. I've been wanting and craving certain experiences in my life----but those things are just on the other side of uncertainty. I am beginning to see that I have subconsciously made decisions and excuses not to participate in certain activities, situations, or interactions that could potentially lead to that one particular type of suffering.
I want to take a moment to dive deeper into why rejection is so painful. It's not simply rejection that hurts. In certain situations, when the scab of rejection is picked open, I bleed the feelings of unworthiness. Feeling unworthy in the eyes of others, to me, has been an unbearable pain to avoid.
Recently, I found myself in one of my nightmare rejection scenarios and had to work through some emotional baggage. This time was different because I was able to rationalize my own reaction to the situation. I was able to step back from my pain and name what was happening, the reason for my raw and exposed feelings. What was also different is that I could see the coping mechanism I turned to for comfort: art. I could see how the process of creation became a salve for pain relief. The only difference between having my eyes open to the pain, rather than shut, was that I knew exactly where to apply the salve, and use it as a tool, not just for pain relief, but for healing.
Every New Year, I choose a theme of growth for the year to come. In years past, I've chosen themes such as bravery, and awakening. This year is rounding out to be the year of worthiness. "I am worthy," is my new mantra. I will go bravely into this year, willing to encounter feelings of unworthiness, and with paintbrush (or Dremel) in hand, I will confront those feelings and work through them. I am willing to work through them because I want what is on the other side of potential rejection: new and exciting life experiences.
Living life to the fullest doesn't guarantee that we will never suffer. Suffering is just another sign that we have yet to grow, and growing is the whole reason for living.
As ever, and with a greater understanding of the saying, I will end this post with...
Until next time.
Carpe diem, my friend!