People hate me. Not everyone, but some people in our small town turn white when I walk into a room. They turn their back if I smile and nod in their direction. If I say a cheerful, “Hi” to them, they almost have a heart attack. They rage at their friends about me. They tell their friends lies about me and those women, who used to talk to me, now don’t. They rage at comments that I post on line. They spy on my Facebook page and my blog to see what I’m saying that they can pass around with derision. They are consumed with hatred toward me. You’d think I performed some heinous act against them — murder, theft, fraud — to elicit such long-term hatred. No, never. I’m a ‘nice’ person. Just like you are a ‘nice’ person.
It used to bother me. As a girl I want to be liked. Maybe you’ve experienced the rejection of your peers, too. It can be painful. But the pain doesn’t have to crush you. Now I look at the pain of rejection as confirmation that I must be on the right track.
Rejection is one of the costs of Nonconformity.
People who have a vision and push themselves to be remarkable and to work toward an empowering goal, are going to meet with jealously by the boob-tube, coffee-klatch set. Just think of how the Press tears apart successful public figures, and you’ll understand what I’m talking about. In fact, the more successful someone is, the more derision they receive. People can be cruel.
How do you as a remarkable, nonconformist, who wants to pursue a creative passion and make a living with it, deal with the hatred and rejection of your peers? You have four choices.
1. You can capitulate, forget your own values, who you are and join the group.
I’ve got news for you. It doesn’t work. You’re the nonconformist and they know it and they will never let you in. But they’ll let you break your back doing all the grunt work on their committees and their busy-work-projects until they are finished with you, and then they’ll reveal their hatred again. Don’t waste your talent, your vision, and energy trying to fit in with their tiny view of the world. You will kill the God-given spark inside you. You will starve your own soul and you will never accomplish your Great Work.
2. You can fight back
Gather another group and focus your attention on party politics. Join the battle of us-and-them. But that would be a waste of your creative energy, too. And it doesn’t work. It takes your attention away from what’s really important to you. And you will begin to hate back. Don’t do that. You need to be free of negative emotions in order to be free to pursue your vision and your creative passion. Hatred kills beauty and creativity, every time.
3. You can hide.
You can take the arrows and let them kill you. You can shut up the vision and try to be a conformist. You can delete the facebook page, the blog and stop posting on the forum. You can give in to the Trolls. This seems like it would be an easy solution — become a recluse and live in a hermitage away from all possibility of rejection. But this solution stifles your soul, too. You need to be with other leaders to continually fan the flame of your creative spark, and to be held accountable to accomplish your Great Work. Don’t hide. We need you. The world needs your gifts and your Great Work.
4. Be yourself and accept their rejection as confirmation of your vision and the Great Work that you are doing.
Decide that they are impoverished by their conformity. Feel sorry for them. Know that their rejection means that you are on the right track. Refocus on your vision — the thing that you were created to do and given the gifts to accomplish, that serves a larger purpose. And thrive in the rejection because its a sure sign that you are on the right path. You are doing a Great Work.
How to Handle the Rejection when it comes
So you’ve just done a free public service — whether you did a demonstration at the Fall Fair, or published a blog post with a free tutorial or started a beneficial conversation on a public forum — and the haters show up. They are consumed by their hatred and so they are compelled to stalk you. They are going to show up. And your inside-child feels the hit. You feel rejected and now need to deal with the negative emotions. What do you do?
My first response is to apologize that they feel hurt by what I said, what I did or who I am. But that is the wrong way to handle that. They hate you for who you are, and their reaction to what you did or said is simply a symptom. Rejoice in the rejection and ignore them. Their souls are being slowly consumed by their own hatred and jealousy. They are to be pitied. They are miserable. They are trapped in a prison of their own making. But you don’t have the key to free them. Apologizing actually increases their torment.
However your inner-child is still hurt. So you need to nurture that inner-child before youSwimming upstream, while the current flows down. Its necessary to accomplish your great work, but you’re going to beat upon some rocks when you swim against the flow. “Salmon Migration” Natural dyes, wool felt (2006).
can grab hold of your joy again. Here’s two techniques that work for me:
A. Paint it out.
Grab your journal –– remember the one I said to buy to record your adult homeschooling adventure — grab some watercolour pencils and draw out the negative emotions that you feel. Don’t try to make sense of it. Just draw, doodle, scribble and feel the negative emotions flow down your arm, out through your hand and onto the page. Take turns using both of your hands in the drawing. Use as many pages as you need to. Once there is nothing left and you’ve poured it all out. Take a thick paint brush and a tiny bit of water and dilute the negative emotions, washing them on the page. Allow the work to dry. Get a calligraphy pen and write one word over the painting that encapsulates what you feel — anger, relief, pain, freedom — whatever that word is, express it on the page. Give your art work a name, date it and move on.
B. Write it out.
If you don’t use drawing or painting material — try flow of consciousness writing on the page. Same idea — let the emotions flow out of you and through your pen onto the page. Give your nondominant hand a chance to write, too. Keep writing until its all out and you are free of it. Now give it a title, date the page and move on. You never need to come back to this page unless you want to. You don’t have to share it with anyone, unless you feel safe doing that. You are in charge.
It helps to restate your personal vision and purpose here, to remind yourself of your passion, your gifts and life purpose — the one thing that gives you joy and the goal of your creative efforts.
“I live to….” (fill in the sentence). This sentence may change over time as you focus more clearly on your Great Work. But don’t wait until its perfect before you try to state it. It is a necessary step to dealing with the cost of nonconformity.
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Back to you:
What ways have you found to get back your balance when you have been confronted by rejection? How have you handled rejection in the past? Did you find a tool to take away from this article that will help you deal with the costs of nonconformity? Leave a comment.