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Major rejection of political parties

seated figure smlToday the results of the UK election 2015 were announced and many political parties and their leaders are experiencing being rejected by the public.  For Ed Milliband, Nick Clegg and others it hopefully won’t have a life long impact on their self-belief.  For some however, rejection can be a bitter pill to swallow.

 

Being rejected is one of our greatest fears.

 

Rejection, rejected 

 

When you read those words what happened inside?

Did you feel uncomfortable?

 

Perhaps a memory came to mind when you’d felt that you’d been rejected and how horrible it was. Maybe you thought ‘I never want to feel like that again’ and so you have gone through life making sure you don’t put yourself in situations where it could.

If you haven’t experienced rejection in your life then you might find it difficult to consider what the implications might be for those who have.

You may have had the experience of not being picked for the school sports team or some other activity?  I seem to remember it was Rounders, I was not so good a hitting the ball!  I can remember waiting to be picked and was usually one of the last.

Now as an adult I can look back on those times and see that there would be a number of reasons why I wasn’t selected first.  Not least that I wasn’t very good at Rounders. Why would someone who wanted the team to win have someone on the team who couldn’t play the game well?  I am also able to see that my inability to hit the ball was mainly due to lack of practice and the time not being taken to coach me in how to hit the ball.  It was almost as though we were expected to have an innate skill in hand eye coordination.  Well some of us didn’t and needed a bit more input!

Yes it was uncomfortable at the time but it didn’t come to define me as someone who was rejected. If I had experienced rejection in other areas of my life the compound effect could have had a serious impact on my life as rejection became part of my identity.

 

Behaviour as protection

You see we are very good at trying to protect ourselves.  When we experience something like rejection it can really hurt and if that happens a lot we try to make sure it stops.  In a way it’s a natural survival instinct. We are trying to protect ourselves.

It is dangerous to be rejected. If a baby is not cared for by parents then that child will die.  A toddler who is left alone and unprotected could be harmed or die.  Our fear of rejection was established eons ago as we developed as human beings.  Acceptance into the tribe ensured our survival.

Rejection, experienced early on in life and coming from a parent or care giver, can lead to more serious issues.  One behaviour that people may display if they fear rejection is that of ‘people pleasing’. They believe that in order to be accepted they should put the needs of others first.  In order to survive they have to be ‘good’.  Being ‘good’ means making sure that others are happy with you so you won’t be rejected.

It can also mean that as people grow up they do not express their needs and wants and this can lead to increasing dissatisfaction with themselves and frustration that they are not getting what they want in life.  It can also lead to them feeling taken advantage of and being ‘put upon’.

In a relationship if one partner is frightened of being rejected it can lead to arguments, a seeming lack of trust and constant seeking of reassurance.  Often neither partner understands what is going on.  The fear of rejection is often deeply buried and unconscious however, the belief is triggering unhelpful thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

Fear of rejection can stop people from socialising so may lead to social anxiety.  That underlying belief ‘I must not be rejected’ stops people from putting themselves into a situation where that possibility of rejection might exist.  It can also stop them putting themselves forward for promotion or going for better paid, more satisfying careers.

 

A belief change process

There are various ways in which that unhelpful, limiting belief can be changed. The first step is to recognise it’s there! The second is to think that change is possible.

Think of a situation where the limiting belief has been running the show.  You may need to dig down a bit to find the belief.  Once you have it write down:

  • My belief is …… e.g. My belief is ‘I should never be rejected, it’s awful if I am and it means I’m unloveable’
  • Ask yourself ‘How old do I feel when this belief is ‘running the show’’?
  • Underneath your belief write down the impact it has on your life. What you feel, what you think, what you do.  This belief makes me …..
  • Take a step back from the belief and ask the following questions (putting your own words in where I’ve underlined the word)
    1. How do I know if I’ve been rejected?
    2. What am I assuming that lets me think I’ve been rejected?
    3. Are there worse things that could happen in my life?
    4. How do I know that being rejected means I’m unloveable as a whole person?
    5. What evidence do I have that proves this belief?
    6. Is the evidence fact or assumption?
  • When isn’t the belief there?

 

Now think about a more helpful way of believing. I don’t mean saying ‘I’m totally loveable everyone is going to adore me I’ll never be rejected again’, as that is almost as unhelpful.

Perhaps something along the lines of:

“I would prefer never to be rejected but in this world not everyone is going to like me, not everyone is going to need me but of those I meet most will like me and most will be ok.  It is unpleasant to think the people may not want me but I’ve survived those thoughts.  It doesn’t mean that I’m unloveable as a whole person. The old belief was formed when I had little life experience and is more about my parents/carers attitudes, their beliefs and upbringing. It is something from my past and I can remember that.  I am doing the best I can and can accept that that is all anyone can do.”

 

I know it’s a bit long but when you read it through does it feel different from the old belief.  Perhaps more balanced, more helpful. Allowing for the possibility that our demand may or may not happen enables us to respond in a more resourceful and resilient way.  Odd I know.

Now write a more helpful way of thinking similar to the paragraph above.

Then answer these questions

  • If this was my belief how would I be leading my life?
  • How would I be coping with situations where, in the past, the old belief had been ‘running the show’
  • What would others notice about me as I use this new way of believing?

 

Countering the inner critic

Sometimes as we change there’s a little inner voice that is trying to help you and keep you safe by keeping you believing the old belief.  Imagine that ‘inner voice’ was a friend and they were saying to you what your self-talk is saying, how would you answer them.

Write down the newer belief and then let that inner voice out and write down what it is saying. Then counter that with a more helpful, rational argument. As I say, pretend that you are having a conversation with someone and arguing against the unhelpful things they are saying. Write down the more helpful response and then the unhelpful worries that that the inner voice is coming up with.  Keep repeating this process until you’ve answered all the worries and can’t come up with any more.

Now take time to practice reading those for and against arguments to yourself.  Make the newer self-talk compelling use a louder voice, stand up, play music that gets you into an ‘up’ state.  When you read the unhelpful arguments read them in a quieter voice, sit down, be weaker.  Do this each day for about 14 days.

 

Mental Rehearsal and acting ‘as if’

Now we’re going to tap into a very powerful tool that everyone has.  Your imagination.  Often people say ‘I can’t imagine things’. Wrong.  You use your imagination all the time.  Thinking about what you had for breakfast, what you are going to buy on your weekly shop, what happened last week or thinking about the things you’ll do on holiday. All of that is your imagination.  Unfortunately, most of the time people imagine all the worst stuff happening.

Start to imagine yourself in old situations but with the new way of thinking and imagine how you would cope differently.  Then imagine future situations and how you will cope having the new belief ‘running the show’.

Even though you may not at first fully believe the newer belief start to act as if you do believe it.  Start to behave in ways that match your new belief.  It will feel odd at first but you can stand it. The more you mentally rehearse your new coping methods and practice them the quicker the wiring in your mind and body will get stronger and be easier to use automatically.

What you are doing through this process is strengthening the mental muscles for believing, thinking and coping in a different way.  It’s a bit like going to the gym or learning anything new practicing helps strengthen the new connections.

 

There other ways to help change unhelpful, limiting beliefs.  If you have any questions, would like some help with this process or would like to work through your belief in different ways then get in touch.

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