I know, I know. Just the thought of those words cause the stomach to churn, the palms to sweat, and the Rocky Road ice-cream to come out and play. The fear of rejection, I’m convinced, is one of top 3 fears humans experience, right next to death and public speaking. If you ever deal with these emotions at the same time, your body just might turn that Rocky Road into Moose Tracks if you’re not careful.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I had gotten in trouble at school and had come home early to begin serving my several days of suspension. I sat down in the chair in the living room across from my grandmother to talk while I was waiting for my lunch to finish cooking in the kitchen. While most parents might have found a way to discipline me or take away my privileges, my grandmother had a completely different approach. She was watching “In The Heat Of The Night” and she wasn’t about to let me ruin her show, so she kept it short and sweet. No long lectures, no spankings, or endless days of chores. She just calmly looked me in the eye and changed my world with 4 words. She said:
Baby, They Killed Jesus!
I know, I know. I was shocked when she said that too! In fact, I’m not even sure if I knew what she was talking about at first but it turned out to be a serious reality check. She went on to explain how Jesus had healed the sick, fed the hungry, and saved lives and that even he had his share of haters. She let me know that I should be comfortable with rejection and that there will always be haters who just don’t like me at no fault of my own. My grandmother’s words had the punch of a Mike Tyson, the finesse of a Michael Jordan, and the love of a Mother Teresa, and the longer I live, the more I embrace her wisdom.
You see, we’ve set ourselves up to experience pain if we carry the expectation that everyone is just going to think we’re amazing. It’s natural, I believe for us to want these kumbaya emotions all the time from everyone in our life. The human soul yearns to be accepted, loved, and appreciated and to be rejected is one of the greatest pains many of us have ever experienced. That need to be accepted and loved causes many of us to pretend to be things we aren’t just to please others, only to learn that it still isn’t good enough to be accepted. It’s a dead-end road because when we adopt behaviors that aren’t authentic to our own true self to please others, we reject ourselves and inflict the very pain upon ourselves that we were initially trying to avoid.
Rejection is part of life on this planet. I know, I don’t always like it, but we don’t have a choice. When you build your own planet, you can make the rules there, but until then, we all must address rejection in a healthy manner. We are all under construction, and rejection is a form of feedback that informs us that we still have ground to cover in our personal development journey, or that if they don’t like us, something’s seriously wrong with them! We can’t control rejection, but we can choose our response. We can choose to respond ignorantly or intelligently. If we respond intelligently, we become stronger in the face of adversity and rejection and begin to resemble the influential leaders we appreciate the most, whether that be Jesus, Gandhi, MLK, & JFK.
Until the next time, choose intelligently!