Criticism and rejection are inevitable but I don’t have to like it


Rejected for change, not always a bad outcome

I’m a powerful successful person with a proven track record and I operate with great skill and confidence. I operate independently with a results focused attitude and don’t care what other people think.

I wish that was true. It certainly appears to be so but it’s really only a well fortified facade. I look at successful people and admire their confidence and self belief. I wonder if they too are different on the inside.

My upbringing programmed me to believe that I could never be good enough. It certainly fuelled me with a frenzy to prove this wrong as I set forth to slay a path to success, prosperity and material wealth.

What I really wanted was acceptance. From others, but mostly from myself. To believe I’m good enough and feel the freedom of contentment. How much do I have to do and have for me to believe it? I wish I knew.

With success comes even more pressure. There is no safety in numbers at the top and the glare of the spotlight is blinding. I may have ‘shown them’ but now they expect more, always more. They don’t want to wait.

I had many supporters to a point. They pushed me to be better but when the gap between us grew beyond their comfort zone they wanted to reel me in. Apparently I needed to be brought back to earth and to understand what the real world was like.

I was careful to keep any arrogance in check and underplayed the situation. The spotlight shone even brighter as they looked for and revelled in any sign of weakness.

Suddenly people were enjoying telling me of my weaknesses. They must have been enjoying it as they make a point to tell me each time we met. They’d do so with such obvious delight. Not perfect after all then. If only they knew what was really going on inside that they couldn’t see.

Criticism and rejection hurt. I still care far too much what others think. I don’t want to care but I do. I crave the confidence, personal belief and freedom of being master of my mind. So what is to be done?

When we take rejection as ‘proof’ of our inadequacies it’s hard to allow ourselves to risk being truly seen again. How can we open ourselves to others if we fear they will discover what we’re trying desperately to hide: that we are boring, incompetent, needy, a fraud, or in some way deeply inadequate?

The fear of rejection becomes understandably intense when it taps into our own belief that we are lesser than others or lesser than the image we feel compelled to project.

We may believe that the person who does the rejecting or criticising is automatically superior to the person who is rejected – us. Relationships are not some sort of bizarre competition in which the person who attacks first, refuses to attach or suffers less is proclaimed the winner. Rejection can reveal just as much and often more about the insecurities and fears of the person doing the rejecting.

We may wish to don our armour to protect us from the feelings of self-loathing, depression, anxiety, and rage that rejection and criticism can evoke. None of us is immune to the pain of rejection, but the more we grow in maturity and self-worth, the less likely we are to take it quite as personally. At least that’s the theory.

The fact of the matter is that the ones we listen to so intently have rarely walked in our shoes. They hide in the masses, safe in their mediocrity: a small dog barking from behind the fence. Intellectually we know not to take their derision to heart but emotionally it cuts us to the core, pushing the buttons of our own perceived inadequacies and fears. We’ve been found out. The paradox is the more we say ‘I don’t care what they say’ the more we actually do.

I have a group of friends who do understand, and we meet regularly. They are the only ones to whom I can speak openly and honestly. They’re neither jealous of the wins nor dismissive of the failures. They are supportive, caring and motivating. These are my true friends and I’m fortunate to have these great people in my life.

When we acknowledge that criticism and rejection is not an indictment of our being, but an experience we must all face again and again if we pursue our dreams, it will become easier to accept.

The only sure way to avoid rejection is to take no risks. If we choose to live courageously we will experience rejection and survive to show up for more. As painful as it can be I choose to walk this path.


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3 Responses to “Criticism and rejection are inevitable but I don’t have to like it”

  1. paulhassing Says:

    I’m dismissive of your wins and jealous of your failures. Lucky I’m not one of those friends! 😉

  2. greg gutierrez Says:

    Well written. Thank you.

    Greg Gutierrez
    Zen and the Art of Surfing

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