The pain of rejection and what to do about it
Sometimes we can find ourselves criticised, humiliated or even ostracised and ignored by our families and friends. This may be because we have done something that challenges their values or their perceptions of the World. We may experience our families or friends disagreeing with us and telling us what we should be thinking or doing, and this can be very disheartening and upsetting. As we grow as individuals we can change, and our outlook on life can change with us, and this can be misunderstood or taken the wrong way by significant others. This can leave us feeling marginalised and excluded and deeply hurt.
When clients tell me about experiences of being rejected by their parents, partners, friends and or work colleagues I often bring Maslow’s hierarchy of needs into the conversation. According to Maslow we as human beings all have basic needs – the need for food and water, the need for shelter and safety, then the need for love and belonging. At the top of the hierarchy of needs is self-actualisation, which simply means personal growth. I explore with clients in what ways their various needs are met, and whether their process of self-actualisation is potentially creating resentment or criticism from the people that they know. It takes time for our family and friends to get to know who we are if we find ourselves changing. It is therefore important not necessarily to walk away from old relationships but to give these time to develop. It may be that we can show leadership regarding our relationships so that they can become more like the kinds of relationships that we want now. There is nothing wrong with fulfilling our own potential, even if this means that some of those that we love reject us. This is a risk in following our own destinies. I do find, however, as a therapist that relationships are more resilient than we initially believe, and so our friends and families can grow with us if we give them time.