From time to time, Ishita, over at Fear.Less sends out an email. This one I thought was particularly on point for anyone who's been stopped dead in their tracks in their weight management attempts due to fear of rejection.
I have seen a lot of weight bias in my work (both from "healthy" weight AND "non-healthy" weight individuals. And one of things most of us have in common is fear of being rejected. So even though the subject matter isn't exactly Mindful Eating related, it is showing us how to become more mindful of how we handle (and could handle) situations where we may be rejected.
(As Ishita says in the opening paragraph, her post is a little long. I did edited it a little to highlight the points I thought were most relevant to us)
For three months now, I've been taking a course called Mama Gena's School of Womanly Arts Mastery - hands down the best personal investment I've ever made. We explore womanhood, acting on our desires, and all things sensual, business, life. I love that we get tossed headfirst into uncomfortable situations that reveal personal truths. Like learning about rejection by getting rejected a bunch of times.
Last Sunday we had to go out onto the streets of New York City and in ten minutes, grab a man to bring back to the program. My default thought was "Well, that's stupid," but the point was to look rejection square in the face, figure out the right story to tell, and hardest of all, ask New Yorkers for a few minutes of time.
Personally, I don't have a huge problem being "rejected." Maybe because as a kid who didn't know better, I did lots of things that ended in embarrassment and somehow carried this into adulthood. I don't care so much what people think of me and my core remains intact. Still, my idea of fun isn't trying to get a "Yes" out of New Yorkers trained to say No.
So they yell "Go!" and all of a sudden I feel three things: Fear because I wonder, "Am I really doing this?", excitement because I look and feel great, confusion because I wonder what I'll say on the street. I look around - other women are feeling the same way.
Without thinking, I hit the streets. It helps that I feel good about myself. Now what's left is the approach. I search for a good looking man and focus on having fun instead of the fear that's easily within reach.
I find a man near the subway and ask him if he's in a hurry and if he has ten minutes to spare. He looks confused. I tell him about our course - 200 ladies doing pleasure research. Bewildered, he asks me three times, "What's the catch?" "No catch," I say, "Just that you may end up having fun if you take a leap of faith." I keep it light, funny, honest. He's not sure what to do and I realize I had no idea what a fluster a pretty lady could cause. He tells me to find him in ten minutes and I reply, "I'll be back in five with someone else" so he should decide quickly. He's shocked. I laugh (at the situation not him) and walk away.
I then proceed to ask five or six men who each say "No" due to work or running late. Some look intrigued, others regretful, others just walk by fast. I don't lose heart but start to feel myself get pissed. "It's only five minutes!" I think, rejection rearing it's head. I catch myself. I know if I unleash negative energy, things will get messy. So I slow down and know that what I put out is what will come in. I smile, at myself more than anything else, get centered and start feeling good again. I focus on how great a guy will feel when I tell him he's made my day by agreeing to come back with me. I walk into a Radio Shack and out with Dan. Dan, who's co-worker was so intrigued she covered for him while he checked out this "research." Dan turned out to be a nice guy from my hometown, Detroit. We walk to the hall.
That's the relevant part of the story for now. The lead up to Dan entering a situation he had no clue about because I risked getting rejected.
Rejection is a funny thing. It magnifies emotions like insecurity and fear to a point of discomfort because it's not easy (or enjoyable) to hear "No" over and over again. What I kept coming back to was "So what?" So what if they say No? So what if you have to keep switching up your approach? So what if you're in a situation you wouldn't ordinarily choose to be in?
I learned new things about rejection from this exercise, you can read them below. But the most important lesson was that rejection's really not as bad as we think.
1.) There's no way around rejection. We'll all face it many times in our lives, so why not learn to deal with rejection now before we turn into panicked fools later on. I say bring it.
2.) You'll feel worse if you don't do the thing that might get you rejected. Had I not done this exercise, I would have felt much worse about my inability to confront rejection than embarrassed about actually doing it. If I didn't deal with it, I'd be restless and fearful when it showed up again in my life. And it will show up again! Even if you want to do something that guarantees some type of rejection, I say do it. Every successful person goes through heartbreaking struggle to achieve their goals, so if you're in this space, trust it and keep going.
3.) Know that rejection is not personal. If I took the fact that people on the street had meetings and work personally, it would have been silly, right? But we take rejection personally all the time when often it has nothing to do with us - it's more about what's happening in the other person's head so best to take our self out of it.
4.) A deadline helps. A lot. Ten minutes was all I needed (or wanted) for this exercise. Any more time and I would have thought myself right out of it.
5.) Find a purpose for rejection. Put something purposeful behind your rejection. Like learning about yourself, meeting a challenge, expanding your boundaries, or facing fears. Beyond taking the sting out of rejection, this will also make you less attached to the outcome.
8.) Once you do it, you'll feel relief. If you've avoided and run away from rejection too many times, you now have permission to own up and face it. Sometimes when you just have to face something, you get relief from knowing there's no way out. Don't freak out about the results, just put yourself out there and know that all of this is training and all of this is learnable.
10.) Rejection isn't easy, but it's much easier in community Because I knew other ladies were out there taking similar risks, it made the entire task safer and I was more able to stick it out, fail, try hard, and ultimately succeed. A potentially heinous Sunday turned into a fun afternoon.
From walking out on the street when you feel you're not "in shape" enough to telling your family you're embarking on (another) weight management attempt -- opportunities to feel rejection abound. How we handle that potential negative feeling plays a huge roll in how successful we will be in our next attempt (or whether we'll be brave enough to start at all!)