Rejection is one of the worst feelings known to humans. It starts when we’re little — the first time you weren’t invited to a party or a sleepover, the first time your best friend decided she wanted lots of friends and not just you. The first time you were left out of a game, or were the last person picked for dodgeball. Maybe you grew up being bullied or teased or excluded or you’ve always had a tough time making friends. We’ve all had our hearts broken at least once, badly. You could have experienced feelings of rejection from your own parents or siblings.
There’s research that suggests the same part of the brain that responds to physical pain is also triggered when we feel rejected (the anterior cingulate cortex, or ACC if you’re interested in these things); that we are as distressed by feelings of being excluded as we are to a physical injury. That could explain the level of panic and desperation many people feel when they’ve been left, and of course there’s always personal history that can compound the situation. Many people experience heartbreak as an actual sensation or mix of sensations in the body — a heaviness, an emptiness, the lack of appetite or motivation to get out of bed, the exhaustion, and physical pain deep in the belly or around the heart.
Have you ever been rejected by someone you didn’t even like that much? Even in that case it doesn’t feel good. If you have any deep-seated doubts about whether you are truly lovable, it’s highly likely you’re going to feel the desire to run toward people who reflect those doubts back to you because if you can convince them, maybe you can convince yourself and heal an old wound. If you’ve tried that, you know it doesn’t work.
Here’s the thing. If someone wants to walk out the door or throw in the towel, or if a person expresses doubt in word or in action about their feelings for you early in a relationship, the only truly loving thing you can do is let them go. Trying to sell yourself is damaging to your soul, it’s going to make you feel sick. Running or chasing after people also makes you sick, like you’re hooked, and can be yanked in any direction. Like you’ve lost your power.
Love with your heart, your mind, and your hands open. People may change or leave, they may disappoint you in many ways. In order to love yourself, you cannot allow yourself to be abused. When you feel like your light is being crushed, and when you participate in the crushing, you really can’t nurture anyone else. If a person doesn’t see you or understand you or get you or celebrate you, let them go and do your best to wish them well. Do that for yourself and the other person, because love does not force or manipulate or control. It doesn’t run people down. I know we all have our visions or ideas of “how things should be,” but you have to meet people where they are. Too many people get caught up in the potential. “I’m so in love with the way I know this person could be, if only…” That’s not the same as, ” I’m so in love with this person.”
Your story may not unfold the way you’ve written it in your mind. You cannot control what other people will do or say or want, but you can heal yourself and if you do that, you will happily walk to the door anyone who doesn’t seem fully psyched to be with you. You’ll do that for you, and you’ll also do that for them. Thich Nhat Hanh on this, “You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.” Not every lid is meant to fit your pot. No point forcing it.
Sending you love,