Thursday, May 15, 2014

Rejection and Positive Affirmations

Rejection is hard to take. We are social creatures, and define ourselves socially, by the acclaim or dis-acclaim of others. Consequently, when others like, accept, respect and value us, we feel valued. When we don’t receive these tokens, we generally hurt, some more than others. One blog, Psychology in Everyday Life, defines feelings of rejection in terms of pathology:

  • Sensitivity to rejection isn’t just a passing fancy of the self-help movement. It’s a serious symptom of the mood and personality disorders that results in an inability to regulate emotions, exert self-control, and the tendency to give too much personal meaning to life happenings that it undermines the ability to cope with frustrating experiences.

Instead, the pervasiveness of our “sensitivity to rejection” seems to suggest that it is a human phenomenon that requires general how-to-live-life answers. This blog suggests:

  • You will be able to handle rejection, when you start to describe it in ways that don’t destroy your self-esteem. Turn a statement like, “I am destroyed and can’t go on living” into “I’m hurting, but not broken or down”. Your whole demeanor changes just by the meaning you give to the experience.

  • The next time you are denied, chant the beauty of your good… even if you have to fake it at the start.

Instead of allowing society/others to define and determine who we are and level of our worth, we need to find a never-ending fountain from which we can drink an unchanging positive self-concept. However, this blog and secular psychology assert that we can provide this balm for ourselves.

Can we? My experience tells me that I cannot! I had had five highly recommended psychologists/psychiatrists who affirmed that I should “chant the beauty of [my] good.” However, their chant failed to penetrate. My pervasive feelings of un-worth cried far louder than any of their collective chants about my positive worth.

While it is true that we can’t base our self-concept on the passing whims of others or even on our own passing accomplishments, we also cannot base our psychological well-being on self-affirmations – a form of masturbation. Instead, we were made for relationship – one that would provide for us the necessary psychological foundation to weather life’s challenges and changes.

Scripture informs us that we have this relationship through a Divine Savior:

  • Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me. (Psalm 27:10)

People will reject us. None of us have immunity from this reality. Even our closest relationships will fail us, if not be rejection, then by death. I continue to experience threatening feelings due to rejection and the threat of such. However, I know that the Lord will never reject me, and that what He thinks about me is what counts.

Others might disapprove of me, and sometimes, this deeply hurts. Sometimes, their disapproval is justified. I do have many failings. However, I can now bear the rejection (and be transparent about it), knowing that my Lord esteems me everlastingly.

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