'Rejection' Is Nothing More Than Social Constructionism
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The first time I heard renowned international journalist and writing coach Rebecca Weber’s podcast on ‘Rejection’, it completely reframed my perspective on what it truly means. In the podcast, Rebecca explains her research into this vague idea of 'rejection' and noted that the hard, solid definition of 'rejection' is that it is simply a noun; it is just a thing. It doesn't have any seriousness attached to it. 'Rejection' is no more important than say a bus or a car, or an umbrella. But it is not a feeling as such. You can feel sadness, grief, happiness, anger but you can't feel 'rejection' and yet, millions of people feel rejected every day. ‘Rejection' is inaccurately misused as a legitimate emotional response, and specifically can be broken down into three types of misconception.
Rejection as a feeling
Weber’s simple research proves that rejection is nothing more than a feeling that has been made up evolutionarily over the years, and yet the body biologically is not programmed to ever 'feel' ‘rejection' as an emotional trigger. In medical terms, when a body rejects something, it destroys it from the inside or expels it from the body, so it’s rather intriguing to see that people can actually take a physical, scientific process and turn it into a very emotional feeling. What's worse is that there is so much acknowledgement and nurturing of this notion through different media channels, all driven by major societal themes such as ‘belong’, ‘tribe’, and ‘group’. No one can make you feel rejected - that's equivalent to saying that you have been expelled from someone else's body; that someone has rejected you because you are not a fit with their own body. However, metaphorically speaking, that may be true on so many levels. You somehow 'feel' the rejection when you believe you don't belong to a certain ‘body’ such as a parent, school, work, friends, but rejection is merely a process. For instance, being rejected for a school play audition, being rejected by a love interest, being overlooked for a promotion opportunity, being rejected by a business partner - all of these should be construed as nothing more than a process of life. What you are feeling is more likely sadness, anger or confusion which has then been misled into thinking that it is rejection.
Rejection as a social construct
The notion of rejection is nothing more than social constructionism - it is a constructed understanding formed through shared assumptions about what something means by a collective group or society rather than meaning that is formed within an individual. It solidifies the belief that some feelings are totally defined externally by society's rules and sadly they have caught onto us like parasites and live within us. Rejection is simply a process that has literally been shifted into something emotional and now millions of people around the world are plagued by a ghost-like surreal feeling that may or may not be there depending on the perception of the person feeling it.
Rejection as a measuring tool
‘Rejection’ is an institutionalised emotion. It is dogmatic and people expect you to feel it and then react in a way to show that you have been ‘rejected’. The disappointing and concerning part is that people let rejection define them. They use it to measure their capability and ‘likeable’ factor to attach or belong to something - a promotion, a love interest, a business opportunity, a group. Whatever it may be, rejection is used as a measuring tool. They use it to define their limitations, allowing it to act as a perfect foundation to validate all the beliefs that hold them back from achieving their best.
I hope this article has helped to re-frame your perspective on rejection. The best way to deal with the process of rejection is to acknowledge the event, because if you don’t, then that will trigger other emotional responses which which will just leave you overwhelmed and confused about what you are actually feeling. However, acknowledging the event is not to be confused with ‘feeling’ the process of rejection. You need to learn to distinguish that a process cannot be felt. You can feel sad or angry about it but you simply can’t take the process of rejection and then end up feeling rejected as well.