Rejection isn’t just an emotion we feel. It’s a message that’s sent to the core of who we are, causing us to believe lies about ourselves… We connect an event from today to something harsh someone once said. That person’s line becomes a label. The label becomes a lie. And the lie becomes a liability in how we think about ourselves and interact in every future relationship.
The line: I don’t want you becomes the label you aren’t accepted.
The label: You aren’t accepted becomes the lie you aren’t worthy.
The lie: You aren’t worthy becomes the script for self-rejection. And it unleashes suspicion, doubt, hesitancy, and many other liabilities that hinder present relationships. We project the lines of rejection we heard from our past on others and hold the accountable for words they never said.
Lisa TurKeurst, the author of The New York Times bestselling book Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely features the above paragraphs in the opening pages of her book. These lines that become labels that become lies are something that I think are familiar to all of us, but particularly to women in Western culture. TurKeurst’s words reminded me of a favorite author and researcher-storyteller Brene Brown.
Brene Brown, someone whose books I have written about for this publication, came out with Rising Strong: The Reckoning, The Rumble, The Revolution a few years ago. In her book, she interweaves real scientific data with entertaining anecdotes. Brown’s other books focus on shame and vulnerability, particularly how these issues affect women. Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection, encouraged women to be themselves and to embrace their imperfections – essentially not to feel shame about the ways in which they were not perfect. Her next book, Daring Greatly, emboldened women to “be all in,” to not feel failure, to attempt what seems to be impossible.
Now, Rising Strong responds to all the women who “dared greatly” and failed. They wrote to Brown and asked, “I dared greatly… and now I’m down for the count. How do I get back up?”
Brown writes, “I knew when I was writing The Gifts and Daring Greatly that I would ultimately write a book about falling down. I’ve collected that data all along, and what I’ve learned about surviving hurt has saved me again and again. It saved me and, in the process, it changed me.”
Explaining the connection between living a full life and failure, Brown articulates:
While vulnerability is the birthplace of many of the fulfilling experiences we long for – love, belonging, joy, creativity, and trust, to name a few – the process of regaining our emotional footing in the midst of struggle is where our courage is tested and our values are forged. Rising strong after a fall is how we cultivate wholeheartedness in our lives; it’s the process that teaches us the most about who we are.
Rising Strong helps people understand what to do when they attempt the difficult and fall. What do you do with that failure? How do you learn from it and attempt the seemingly impossible again?
According to Brown, there are three steps in falling:
The Reckoning: The reckoning is when we recognize the failure. Brown explains that we all have “stories” that we tell. For instance, we have a fight with a colleague, and immediately we start telling a story to ourselves, “Oh, I knew Basya never liked me! She probably got upset when I told her that she had a stain on her blouse and now she is taking it out on me.” The story can snowball from there. We tell ourselves stories all the time in attempt to explain what is going on in our lives.
The Rumble: Brown says that in order to grow from the hardship we have to admit to the story, to say, “This is the story that I made up about why that just happened.” When we acknowledge the story, we understand that it is a story and not the facts that have occurred. Maybe, just maybe, our story is not one hundred percent accurate. The rumble is the messiest part of the process. The rumble is the time when we recognize that our story might not be true and we need to figure out what the reality is. We are in the midst of the darkness and do not see a way out of the tunnel toward the light. In the rumble, you need to be honest, to challenge yourself to determine what is true, what is self-protection, and what must change for you to live a “wholehearted” life (a central piece of Brown’s philosophy. For more on “wholehearted life” see my other articles on Brown in this publication).
The Revolution: Since we are always telling our own stories, we can write a new ending. In other words, once we have gone through the reckoning and the rumble, we can learn from those experiences and change the way we engage with the world. We can take that failure, understand it in an honest way, and then grow for the future.
We all are familiar with the phrase, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” And, this is definitely part of Brene Brown’s philosophy. In the end, it’s how we try again that makes all the difference. We need to recognize the failures and not “gild” or sugarcoat them. Only by truly reckoning and rumbling with those failures can we have a revolution. So, don’t believe the line, don’t turn it into a label and definitely don’t live the lie!
Register now for a Mindsets and ADHD workshop by Dr. Robert Brooks on November 13, 2018. Please call Mrs. Schonfeld at 718-382-5437 for more information.