Day 9: Taking the Struggle Out of Life – Breaking Out of the Rejection Avoidance Trap


No one enjoys rejection but I seem to go out of my way to avoid rejection.

I didn’t always see myself this way. I used to see myself as more in the middle when it came to handling situations in which rejection was likely. I’ve experienced quite a bit of rejection and I’ve always been able to bounce back.

But in retrospect I’m not sure I’ve bounced back. I think what I’ve really been doing is using some old coping tricks which work to a degree but have also kept me stuck and, in a way, imprisoned.

Which naturally raises the question, why would anyone willingly keep themselves in imprisoned?

It Always Comes Back to Fear

In my case, it comes back to fear. Fear of abandonment.

Every small child experiences abandonment. Not actual abandonment when the child is abandoned by his or her family and left alone. An infant can feel abandoned when it needs something and doesn’t receive it quickly enough.

When my son was an infant, he cried when we put him down by himself. My husband and I joked that we literally wore our son in his snuggly because when he was awake, he needed to be close to us in that way. I now feel a little guilty because in an effort to get him to sleep in his crib alone, we put him in his crib and let him cry until he fell asleep.

We were relieved that he stopped crying after 20-minutes and feel asleep. Twenty minutes doesn’t seem like a very long time who can say how 20-minutes feels to a newborn?

Although I can’t say how it felt for my son, I can only speak from my own experience, for me, abandonment is a feeling so intense, I lose all sense of reality. The best description I have is it’s like being swallowed whole by blackness, terror, and despair.

There is a sense of the implacable: that there is no appeal and there is no hope. There is only this endless dark.

I’m not writing this to say I was a terrible mom or that anyone who doesn’t immediately attend to their crying baby is a bad parent. I think it’s part of being human and the human experience to experience abandonment. In fact, one of the gifts I got from my own abandonment pain was to experience a spiritual awakening in my early 30’s and that set my life on an entirely different trajectory.

A New Level of Letting Go

The term “spiritual awakening” sounds like one day you’re asleep and the next day you’re awake and that’s it; you’re enlightened and done with the mundane struggles of life.

In my experience, there are levels of unconsciousness I’ve discovered over time and I didn’t know I wasn’t conscious until I discovered that something I was doing to cope wasn’t working any more.

Trying to create a successful business has been my catalyst this time round. I tried so many things to make my business successful. To make myself a success. And none of them worked in a way that was sustainable or satisfactory for me.

I’ve realized that my fear if rejection has been the impediment to having a successful business. In fact my fear of rejection has been an impediment to having a lot of things I’ve wanted.

I put so much energy into avoiding rejection and because I’m pretty smart, I’ve come up with some very clear ways. I think of all kinds of reasons why I’m not ready to do this thing or that thing.

In the past when I got stuck in this way, I’d eventually get so impatient with myself that I’d make myself “eat the frog.”  I’d get on the phone and call people and apply for jobs. I’d “get out there” and eventually I’d get the job  or I’d get a client and then I’d breath a sigh of relief “I don’t have to be out there anymore,” and get on with my life.

Kind of like my life wasn’t actually happening while I was out there searching (and experience disappointment and rejection) and now that I’d “found” what I was looking for, I was “done” and now my life was actually “being lived again.” Like the part of my life when I’m unhappy and don’t have what I want doesn’t count or something.

Rather than fully experiencing the feelings of abandonment, sadness, fear, etc. I kind of focus my attention on the future when “everything is right and I’m finally happy.”

I guess given the way abandonment can feel, it’s not surprising that I’ve devoted a large part of my life to avoiding anything that might lead to rejection (and what is rejection but a reminder of abandonment).

It’s not surprising that I’m something of a control freak. If on “on top of everything,” I can avoid ever feeling powerless.

The irony here is that my pursuit of control becomes it’s own trap because I can never really control much in life at all. I can only learn to navigate, ride the waves.

Mindfulness and Meditation

What I’ve felt most drawn to lately has been to practice mindfulness and meditation regularly.

Mindfulness requires attention to the present moment and I feel that it is only in the present moment that I can know my Truth. Anything else only conjecture and speculation.

The Truth when I experience it is I cannot be abandoned because there is no separate self to be abandoned. This is a Spiritual Truth for me. My soul and spirit cannot be abandoned.

There are two simple activities I’m using to deal with my fears and to get unstuck.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Enneagram Type 4, Getting Out of My Own Way

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge