I’ve spent my entire life trying not to get rejected by people. In love. In relationships. In business. I was terrified of hearing it… seeing it… feeling it. The entire paradigm of ‘Rejection’, all summed up in one word: “No.” That word could crush me in an instant. Ego shattered… self-esteem dismantled… left for dead in a roadside ditch.
Feeling broken and alone, I yearned for something more but couldn’t bring myself to go after it, whether a new love or new client. It’s an interesting paradox: holding a deep desire for something yet giving up so easily.
My Myers-Briggs test tells me I’m an ESTJ, which means “my primary mode of living is focused externally, where [I] deal with things rationally and logically. [My] secondary mode is internal, where [I] take things in via my five senses in a literal, concrete fashion.”
That’s directly off the website. I grew up that way. Left-brained, analytical and rational. Two plus two was always four and three-squared was always nine. Numbers made sense. Facts were easy. They never changed.
Still today, depending on the mood I’m in, I have a tendency to jump into the analytical and rational. It’s natural and easy, knowing I can always come back to what is known. If I’m being honest, I feel like I flip back and forth between E and I most days, but my test results feel pretty set in stone.
In fact, that’s kind of the problem, isn’t it? I feel one thing, but this test tells me I’m another. In many ways, it’s as if I’m telling you, that because you’re of a certain height, the best way for you to jump is to keep your knees locked and legs straight. Can you do it? Yeah, maybe if you swing your arms and get some momentum up off the ground. Did you jump very high? I imagine otherwise.
And if you were to believe me, thinking the only way you could jump was by locking your knees and straightening your legs, despite how it feels to do so, you’d be limiting your experience of jumping.
So, naturally I have to ask… why do you do this in the rest of your life?
Through the work I do as a coach with my clients (and with my own coach as a client), I’ve worked a lot in this paradigm of rejection. As a client, I truly get what my clients feel. I’ve been there myself. I’ve felt those very real feeling fears and constraints. I’ve been paralyzed from taking any action. And it’s exhausting.
So, since you’re reading this post, I’m going to treat you as I would treat a client of mine. How? By playing a game (and not the creepy kind where I wear an evil clown mask).
But a new game within the already existing game of life. I love creating games for myself and for my clients. It’s a fun way to get outside of our own way and challenge ourselves with no real attachment to the outcome. I either win, lose, or draw. All are okay.
The other cool thing about games is that they end. Once it’s over you don’t have to play anymore. So, to make sure you’re not overwhelmed in your commitment to playing this game with me, it’ll only last so long as you continue reading. Then, if you’re still playing come the end of the post, it’ll end when the words do.
Are you in? I’ll take your silence as a “Hell yes, I’m in!”
Or an X-out of this post.
Alright, here are the rules. There are only three. (Again, JUST until the end of this post are these rules applicable.)
(1) Your beliefs are thoughts you give a lot of credit to. You’ve picked them up in the experiences of your life and the people in it. Some you’ve probably created consciously, others hide in your subconscious.
(2) Your personality is born largely out of the beliefs you have about yourself and life, which govern the way you’ll act in any given situation. More or less, it’s the tendencies you have to act the way you do based on how the world occurs to you.
(3) Your comfort zone is created from the experiences you’ve had in acting the way you have based on your personality and belief system. Basically, these two constructs create your comfort zone which largely dictate what you “can” and “cannot” do.
(4) All are very fake… but feel very real.
That fourth rule trips a lot of people up. Hell, it still gets me from time to time when I’m being really stubborn. Whether it’s in my business or in my relationship, if I get too attached to the “real” feeling, I’m closing off to experiencing an aspect of my life in a new way.
Of course, this is totally natural. Our evolution, in some sense, is kind of behind when it comes to the technological and societal advancements we’ve made. Tens and tens of thousands of years ago, our ancestors weren’t very much concerned with rejection. They were too busy trying not to get eaten alive while hunting dinner. Fast forward to present day and we still experience the very real feeling — fight or flight — in situations where our lives aren’t on the line. It’s the difference between rational and irrational fears.
(Yes, I’m shortcutting my way through evolution.)
Example: Rational fear – someone holding a gun to your head. Irrational fear – starting small, talking to someone you’re attracted to; a little bigger but still irrational, your parents’/boss’ disapproval; bigger yet, going broke.
If neither of those hit home for you, think of one that does. The catch is that when those fears are present, and we all have different fears on the surface, whether rational or irrational, our bodies and minds react in very similar ways. We’re wired that way. Hence, the fight or flight response.
Through practice, we can begin to discern the two more quickly and aptly, however, it takes a lot of practice and courage. For the time being, be easy on yourself. Much of society is too hard on themselves, because they’re driven by their irrational fears. What do we all have in common? When we begin to lift veil, most of these fears are driven by a fear of rejection.
. . . You’ve wanted more responsibility at your office for awhile now, but you’re afraid that your boss won’t trust you.
. . . You’ve been dying to get a new job… but you’re afraid you’re not qualified enough to get the role you want.
. . . You’ve been secretly fantasizing about asking out that cute girl/guy you always see at the coffee shop but you can’t find a reason in the world why they’d say Yes to a date with you.
. . . You’ve been thinking you want to quit your job altogether and travel the world but you think your parents won’t approve.
Starting to sound familiar? I imagine you can find your own. Fortunately they all have something in common. In all of these situations, we don’t actually know what the outcome will be. The issue — the fear — lies in the uncertainty. Most of us are truly uncomfortable when we begin to think about doing something we’ve never done before. We’re uncomfortable stretching outside of what we think we know.
So, instead of doing what we secretly want to do, we spend our time creating boundaries for ourselves so that we never have to do things that make us nervous. Of course, based on the rules of the game, when I say ‘boundaries’, I mean totally fictitious and imaginary constructs in our minds. A few examples? Your personality. Your comfort zone. “Who you are.”
Yes, yes, I know (those of you telling me your personality is real). All of the science and research backs it up. It’s all but carved into stone, right?
Fortunately for you and me and the rest of the human race: we can simply break the imaginary (or real) stone tablets and create new ones. As my friend Noah Hammond has said, “we were born limitless and we were conditioned into limits.” The limits are the first three rules: beliefs, personality, and comfort zone.
He has a point. When you were a baby, who were you? Did you get caught up in how confident you were before you sat up by yourself for the first time? Did you think people would judge you for crawling while they were off walking? Were you afraid your parents would get mad at you for saying your first words or doing the wrong thing?
What about your personality? What was it like then? Were you funny enough? Good enough? Smart enough? What about your beliefs? Your comfort zone? Did they exist? Do they now? What changed?
For one, you learned how to process and communicate information with more consciousness. Before conscious thinking and talking, you acted instinctually. You cried. You laughed. You ate. You burped. You slept. You pooped. Then you did it all over again. You were pure experience. You didn’t even know how to think.
I ask again, and maybe now you’re beginning to see my point, who were you then? Were you any of the things you define yourself with now?
I have a hunch that if you get really honest with yourself, you can say, “No, I wasn’t.” Or, at the very least, “I don’t know.”
When we grow up, we start to tell the tale of “this is just who I am”. We begin accepting the status quo when it’s comfortable to do so. And other times we reject this same conventional wisdom when it appears to threaten our perfectly concocted story.
We manipulate ourselves into feeling comfortable in undesirable and uncomfortable situations. We hold so much power yet remain victimized by the circumstances of our life and the people in it. We refuse to create anything new for ourselves, fearing our new story will be rejected by people we don’t even know yet — and worse yet — the people we actually do know and love.
We say we want happiness, joy, and freedom, but what are we doing to actually live that experience? Seriously. What are you doing to get what you ACTUALLY want?
The game I want you to play is the one in which nothing is true unless it serves your experience of life in any given moment. And all beliefs… all personality traits… all comfort zones… are limiting if you aren’t fully experiencing the moment and speaking what is most true to you as a human being.
. . . If you’re a successful salesman and the biggest reason is that you’re confident and aren’t afraid of losing the sale, yet your biggest intimate struggle is being vulnerable in your relationships, then your confidence isn’t serving you. Vulnerability creates powerful connection.
. . . If you’re typically a shy, keep-to-yourself kind of guy/gal who doesn’t have to deal with much conflict, yet people are beginning to walk all over you and you feel taken advantage of, your shyness isn’t serving you. Healthy boundaries are game changers. Danielle LaPorte said it best: “Open heart. Big fucking fence.”
The examples are endless. But the result is always rooted in what boundaries we’ve given ourselves to manipulate ourselves into comfort. Let’s stop doing that. Together as a human race.
So, just for you, human reading these words… if rejection is something you’re afraid of…
. . . Can you begin to see that the entire paradigm of that fear relies solely on you rejecting the 4th rule of this game?
. . . Can you see that once you take away all limits, there’s actually nothing that’s in your way of asking for what you want?
. . . Can you see that even IF the answer you receive is in fact a “No”, you still have the ability to choose a different experience of life for yourself?
. . . Can you see that once you strip all the irrational fears away, you’re left exactly as you were as a child but with all that amazing ability to think and create as an adult?
. . . Can you see what a gift that is and how powerful you truly are?
I hope so. Really, I do. I write to you because I sincerely hope you get everything you ever wanted, not as a vested interest in your life, but as a fellow human being. We’re teammates. And when you change, the world changes.
I don’t care about your beliefs. I don’t care about your personality. I don’t care about your comfort zone. None of it’s real anyway.
But YOU are. YOU are very real. And no one can reject your human-ness.
You have a body. You have a heart. You have dreams. Go create miracles. Worry about your personality and comfort zone later. After all, is that really what you want to hold you back?
Game over. Or not. The choice is yours.
From a fellow human being to another: I love you. May you live an extraordinary life.