It Takes Courage to Surrender

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,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here and my yoga classes and courses here.


I know sometimes things can feel really hopeless, like you’ve screwed everything up, or you can’t get any traction going, or no matter what you do, you always end up feeling isolated. Sometimes there are really ingrained coping mechanisms that keep a person at a “safe distance” from everyone else. Maybe that’s how you got through your childhood. by detaching or dissociating. If you cut yourself off from what you were feeling as a kid, if you took yourself somewhere else, somewhere safer, that can be a difficult switch to flip. I know lots of people who moved into adolescence coming out of a difficult childhood and just numbed out. Turned to drugs. Shut the thing down, so to speak. So if you have a lifetime history of cutting yourself off from what you’re feeling, and struggling to really trust or open to anyone, it’s perfectly natural to feel alienated and alone and like there’s not much point to any of it.

I have a particular soft spot for children. Some people believe we pick our parents and the exact situations we need for the evolution of our souls and other people believe it’s all random and we end up as worm food. Whatever you believe, a child in an unsafe situation breaks my heart because the tools aren’t there yet to recognize pain is underneath whatever is happening with the adults around them. Pain, and an inability to handle it in a healthy way. A child can’t process that. A child who is abused or neglected or abandoned can’t understand it isn’t about them. All they can do is figure out how to maneuver. How to exist in an unsafe environment. How to disappear.

So many people coming out of backgrounds like these suffer from depression, anxiety, and addiction. But if you’re not in an unsafe environment anymore, there’s no reason you need to repress your feelings, or be ruled by panic attacks, or create a haze to get through the day. Your way of life may have become centered around this idea of, “I Can’t Handle the Pain.” Sometimes people don’t even try anymore, they just numb. Smoke pot every day or drink wine every night or shop every afternoon, or get hooked on relationships or sex or work or exercise. Schedule every minute of the day so there’s no time to feel anything, and run like hell when a feeling slips through the cracks. Life truly doesn’t have to be like that. There are so many healing modalities available. So much conversation about trauma, and ways to work with it, and through it, so it doesn’t rule your life: yoga, meditation, therapy, different ways to work with your nervous system. But it can be scary to even consider a new way of moving through the world, and all kinds of resistance can come up.

If you’re living in this kind of pain, I really recommend you reach out because too many years can go by in a haze and it’s such a shame, because when life is in focus, it’s so beautiful it takes your breath away. I’m not saying it isn’t painful sometimes, but I am saying even the pain can open you to more beauty. It doesn’t have to close you or shut you down or make you run. And if you did grow up in an abusive environment, there’s so much healing that comes from understanding there is nothing lacking in you. Nothing.

There’s also nothing lacking in you if you love a person coming out of a history like this who hasn’t done the work to heal and develop tools to manage and understand the effects of living through trauma. You just fell in love with someone who hasn’t figured out how to love well yet. They aren’t loving themselves, so they can’t really love you. You can’t save anyone, but you can love people and support them and encourage them to get help. Sometimes you have to do that from afar in order to love yourself well.

The thing is, I think we all tend to take these things on and internalize them. If someone can’t love us well, whether it’s a parent or a romantic partner, we walk away with the feeling that there’s something unlovable about us, instead of recognizing the pain that exists in the other person. We get angry and defensive and hurt, we point fingers and tell ourselves stories, and the cycle continues. Healing is a choice every day. There are always opportunities to move toward love or to move toward fear. Choose love. Seriously.

Sending you some right now,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here and my yoga classes and courses here.