Mental defences are a necessary part of life; they not only provide a more stable place for our minds but they help us learn about ourselves. That is, if we don’t let them stop us experiencing any mental pain ever again. It is possible to defend ourselves from mental pain while letting it happen.
It is part of being human, to want to feel we belong, to be accepted; but when rejection happens, we feel it not just from others, we use it to confirm any rule we have that we are not worthwhile.
Rejection is a unique emotion in that we bring others into it. We presume to know what they are thinking because we are projecting our feelings about ourselves onto them. To them, it may not be a rejection because they have not placed the same weight on the situation that we have. It is us that have given it the importance, us that have tied our sense of self-worth into it, and it is us that have pinned our mental state on the outcome. Is this not a little bit crazy? To place our own selves and our emotional states onto someone else is both unfair to them and assumes we are not strong enough to hold it. Rejection comes from assumption and expectation, something we should never have of others because they are playing by their own rules. When you let others be who they are, don’t expect them to affirm your worth and don’t assume they know what they should be doing to make you feel better, you bring that responsibility back to where it should be, with yourself.
Hopelessness & disappointment
To have hope is to feel alive, but when hope fades it can feel like a piece of us has died. When we feel disappointment in something, someone or even in ourselves it is something we had hoped for being left unfinished. We have started something, driven by our hope for change but rather than see it through to where it is leading, we assume it is over. We assume that hope is finished and we must move on to the next thing. What if we took back that hope? Instead of seeing what has happened as the end of what we had hoped for, we see it as a place along the way. Disappointment is an indicator that something is not finished, not that something has finished in the wrong way. It may not be the outcome that you wanted, but it is not a failure, just a bridge on the path to where you want to get to. If you didn’t get the job you had hoped for then it was not right for you, if you didn’t get the money you thought you needed then you didn’t really need it. By keeping hold of the hope that drove you there it will eventually lead you to what you do need. Hopelessness and disappointment come about from impatience. We are not willing to let life run its course, we want to control it into being. Having hope does that for you without all the stress, but it takes patience.
Being ridiculed and hurt is personal, it focuses on us completely and presents us with a realisation that what we fear is true. We haven’t created it and we didn’t want it, but we are faced with something meant to be hurtful. We can easily take it all in, let it confirm all our rules and create some new ones, causing us to put up more walls and barriers.
We assume that because we would not be cruel to others, they would show us the same courtesy. It is true that they are being cruel to make themselves feel better, judging others to confirm their own rules but that doesn’t help us with the pain it has caused. Instead this is a time to see the world as a place for power. Someone self-focused, selfish and divisive would never be affected by the words of someone who uses the pain of others to feel better about themselves. Someone with power and focus would see these people as they are, and recognise their own superiority as someone who does not need to do the same. In these times, see yourself as the better human being, as someone more worthy because you would never cause hurt to another in that way.
Whilst we should never shut ourselves off from the world and how it affects us, we can decide to choose what we let affect us. Don’t imagine you can never let outside influences affect how you feel; we are 100% emotional beings, but when you can choose what your mental state is going to be, you give yourself the ability to live without fear.
Extract from “Still Overweight? The 6-week course that changes your weight and relationship to food forever”