Umair Haque is one of the sexiest man alive in (my) world. He’s pretty damn smart and a good writer. He’s not only share’s his view on political or economic matters but also about life, wisdom and so on. Weeks ago I found of one of his article in medium.com titled: “Beyond Acceptance and Rejection (Or, Why Rejection Might Be The Best Thing That Happens To You)”.
At least the topic somehow related to some of us, especially me. Learning from other’s opinion, experience, and perspectives is just the way to encourage myself in the current situation I faced at the moment.
Of the many illusions that keep us imprisoned, among the most damaging are rejection and acceptance. We equate rejection with failure and acceptance with success. Whether it’s relationships, careers, getting into universities. Even though we know, deep down, we shouldn’t.
Let me give you my own example.
I was rejected from the university that I really wanted to go to. That is exactly how I ended up at precisely the right one. That educated me in the way I needed, in a wonderful place that developed me to the fullest.
I was rejected from the career I thought I wanted to have. Now I thank my lucky stars I was. I’m infinitely happier coaching, teaching, advising people than I ever would have been in it.
I was rejected by my first three serious relationships. Maybe we rejected each other. They flamed out spectacularly. That is exactly how I was led to a person who makes my heart soar every time I’m with them.
It’s happened to me, it’s happened to you. “Rejection” is often what leads us exactly where we were meant to go. “Success” is often what traps us and imprisons us.
But somehow, we’re still afraid of rejection, and desperately seeking acceptance. Why?
We take rejection and acceptance personally. As personal failings and successes. But that’s not what they are at all. They’re arrows that guide us to our true paths, selves, homes.
When we stop taking rejection and acceptance personally, something magical happens. We’re free. Of the fears and anxieties of rejection and acceptance that are suffocating us in the first place. Now there’s nothing to be afraid of, right?
We were afraid of rejection, so we settled for an unfulfilling relationship. Now, still afraid of rejection, we won’t cut the cord. So we never find true love. And so on. Desperately seeking acceptance, we settle for the person, job, career, that praises, flatters, and pampers us, instead of the one which truly expands and elevates us. And so on. The pattern never really breaks this way, does it? But when we don’t take rejection and acceptance personally, and see them as guiding forces, impersonal, bigger than us, then the pattern can finally break. We’re free, finally. To move, to change, to grow.
But it’s not easy to get there, is it? It’s easy for me to say “don’t take rejection and acceptance personally”, but it’s another thing to feel it. So how do we do it?
By putting ourselves outside ourselves for a moment. To see that they reallyare impersonal, bigger than us, precisely because they’re not just out there — they’re in each and every human heart, including ours.
We’re not just always being rejected and accepted. We’re also rejecting and accepting, right? But when we are the giver, not the takers, we don’t often mean it personally. When you turn someone down for a date, it doesn’t mean that they’re a horrible pathetic excuse for a human being (unless they’re a Twitter egg). It just means you don’t think you’re right for each other. The same is true at work. When you turn someone down for a job, it doesn’t mean that you think they’re a failure loser dropout — maybe just that this might not be the best place for them to flourish. When you accept someone, it’s often for superficial reasons, their looks, beliefs, background, disposition s— not because you really respect, admire, and value them.
So why is it that you take rejection and acceptance personally when you don’tmean it personally?
You see the error now, right? You’re assigning the wrong meaning to events. You don’t mean rejection and acceptance personally when you give them, but you do when you bear them. The asymmetry between the two is the cause of our anxiety and fear of rejection and acceptance. So to begin taking them impersonally, we must see ourselves not just as passive receivers, but also as active givers, producers, creators, of rejection and acceptance.
What happens if we can do that? Maybe we can see that they are just illusions.
We can move beyond rejection and acceptance, and see realization instead. If they’re not personal, then there’s really no need to call them “rejection” and “acceptance”, right? This person is simply trying to realize themselves, and perhaps they don’t think that you can help them flourish, develop, grow. You do it too. What we think are personal rejection and acceptance are really just the essential human act of, the deep need for, realization.
The truth is that the human world is a ceaseless matrix, an endless tide of rejection and acceptance. Is it not? We’re always caught up in them. And one is just the flip side of the other. We can’t accept anyone without rejecting others. We can’t reject anyone without accepting someone, sometime, either. All we are really doing is seeking our own realization, each one. We are seeking to change, grow, develop, become ourselves. It is the same difficult struggle, is it not? So there is no need to take them personally. Just to respect and love each person enough to allow them their own quest for realization, just as they allow you yours. That is all we are doing, each of us, in this ocean of being.
So here is how we should think of our rejections. Not as denials, but gentles nudges and pushes in the right direction, that change our course, that guide our paths home. Here is how we should think of acceptance. Not getting into the “best” relationship, career, university — but the right one, for us. The one that will truly nurture, heal, encourage, inspire us. So that we can grow, develop, change, become who we were meant to be.
Life is always guiding us. When we see only “rejection” and “acceptance”, we are fighting against life’s natural guidance. Not because there is a higher power, kindly looking out for us. But simply because each of us is always striving to realize ourselves. And so where, when, how we cannot, we struggle to be free. Life is just all of us, and all of us are like the ocean, guiding each wave home.
Our first challenge is to learn to listen to life more closely. When we are rejected, it is not personal. When we are accepted, it is often just as impersonal, for the wrong reasons entirely. Life is teaching you how to break open the shell of your self. But you are not listening.
When we learn to go beyond rejection and acceptance, then we can listen to life. Calmly. With humility, respect, gratitude. We don’t have to take our rejections personally. We can see them instead, as guidance, clarification, the gift of possibility. We don’t have to seek superficial acceptance for our looks, brains, dispositions, beliefs. Instead, we can seek true expansion, development, growth.
Now, seeing that our struggle for realization is just the same as theirs, that we are all waves in the same ocean, which is surging home, we can just be. Effortless, natural, pure. There is no need to accept or reject the wave. Each one will crest and fall whether we like it or not. All that we must do is see the ocean.
Life is always guiding us. Let us learn to listen.
Thank you Umair, for your kind words and willingness to share it to others.