Where do we get the energy to keep moving upward and forward?
Navigating the increasing complexity of upward development can be brutal. Observe any toddler or teen and their growing pains. Ask any leader growing an organization. But successful maturation is what we all need. We can even trace our most profound societal dysfunctions to breakdowns in this process, be it personal, organizational, and even socio-political.
Having energy to successfully climbing the stages of change will depend largely on how we deal with the following:
3. Loss & Trauma
7. Low Self-Esteem
The way you handle these emotional challenges can result in greater energy for growth and change or they can diminish your soul and disconnect you from the life and love you desire most.
I'm going to spend the next bunch of issues talking about each one and offering some ideas for effective ways to turn those painful experiences into catalysts that you can use to build greater capacity and strength to achieve more of what matters most.
So let's start today with rejection.
Rejection is one of the most common wounds we experience. It's like the breaking of our skin. Some are minor, like paper cuts. Others can be a knife wound to our gut, causing profuse bleeding externally and internally; depends on who it's from and how we're doing at the time. If these injuries aren't treated, they get infected and profound harm (and even death) can result.
The pain from rejections comes from us being hard-wired for connection and belonging. When someone makes us feel isolated or unaccepted, it attacks this deep need. The more significant the person or group that rejects us, the closer the trauma to our vitals.
The place in our brains that registers the pain is actually the same for physical pain. Studies have shown taking pain killers does actually help lessen emotional pain! (Not that I'm recommending this.)
This pain can have devastating results ie. husbands killing their wives because of imminent separation / divorce. Even the 1999 Columbine shooting was primarily motivated by rejections and ostracisms by school mates. Not excusing / justifying any of this but just identifying the link.
All this to simply say we all would do well to become more proficient at identifying this emotional hurt and knowing how to treat it. Not only this, but also teach others (especially children and youth) effective ways to bind up these wounds. Of course, if the injury is profound, we need to seek a professional.
So here are several ways to treat the pain of rejection and increase your energy for greater growth and change:
- Manage self-criticism
- List in writing any negative / self-critical thoughts from romantic, family, workplace, or social rejections
- Use counterarguments to form one or more rebuttals to each self-critical thought.
- Whenever negative thoughts occur, immediately articulate the relevant counterargument fully and clearly to self.
- Clarify your self-worth
- Come up with 5 traits / attributes you highly value about yourself (relevant to the rejection)
- Choose the top 2-3 to write a short essay covering the following points:
- Why the quality is important to you and how this attribute influences your life
- Why this attribute is an important part of your self image
- Embrace healthy social connections
- Find support groups / affiliations with better fit
- Keep reminders of social connections close by, ie. photos
- Recall closest, most positive relationships
- Read meaningful emails / letters, watch videos of loved ones, interact with valued mementos
Got this great content from Emotional First Aid by Guy Winch.
Next issue, we'll look at loneliness.
Want to start planning and gearing up for 2017 to achieve more of what matters most? Book a complimentary 30-60 minute session and let's chat.