Rise Above Rejection

“Nothing has transformed by life more than realizing that it’s a waste of time to evaluate my worthiness by weighing the reaction of the people in the stands.” (Brene Brown)

The pain of rejection will often cause us to act out of fear instead of boldness. I have seen this in my own life several times, starting from a young age, when my response to someone rejecting me would be to retreat into my shell and hide away. The pain of rejection was something I would carry for long periods of time, after the incident occurred, which was often worse than the rejection itself. I also grew up being a people-pleaser, as a safety blanket to win the approval of others, rather than standing up for myself.

Thankfully, I learnt to build my life on what God thinks of me and this solid foundation has given me the security to no longer hustle for the approval of others but rather remain my authentic self. Most of the time the people who are critical of us have a poor self-image and finding things wrong with others is a way of avoiding facing the pain of how they feel about themselves. Hurting people hurt people.

Don’t let the way that other people treat you determine your value and worth.

I wish I could say I always live out those words, but I don’t! It’s a constant journey and although I have grown over the years, I still battle when confronted with rejection. A recent attack last week left me feeling hurt, with their attitude towards me controlling my thoughts for days. However, one of the most valuable lessons I learnt, was to realize it is their problem, not mine and I cannot do anything about what people think. I can simply be myself.

There have been a lot of people saying unkind things lately, but it is best to largely ignore it, as it blows over and they will move on to someone else. However, I do think it is important, for myself included, to remember these words too:

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I’m Still Standing

I heard Elton John’s song “I’m still standing” earlier and now I can’t get the chorus out of my head:

“Don’t you know I’m still standing better than I ever did

Feeling like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid

I’m still standing after all this time

Picking up the pieces of my life without you on my mind

I’m still standing yeah yeah yeah

“I’m still standing yeah yeah yeah”

Although this is directed at a former lover and standing strong without that person, the universal theme of finding confidence after a difficult breakup, is something many of us can relate to. I didn’t intend on writing a blog after listening to this song, but it has got me thinking, so while I wait for my husband to return from running, I am going to share my thoughts (making sure I don’t get too distracted and burn dinner!)

It seems in life there is often someone telling us to be quiet, not make waves, go along with the path others have designed and neglect what we want personally. The pain of rejection often tempts us to do just that: go unnoticed and follow the crowd. I chatted with a friend yesterday about vulnerability on social media and finding the balance between sharing our story to inspire others and opening ourselves up to scrutiny and cruel remarks. Our stories are not for everyone and probably only a good idea to open our lives if healing is tied to the sharing.

Perhaps at the start of this new year, you had to breakup with someone or something that has been a part of your life for a long time. It may be a person, a bad habit, an ideal you have held onto, a dream. (I spoke a little about this in my last entry, “Reflections”.) It may be time to let it go and move forward. Stop looking back with regret and go after what you want in life. Leave your mark on this world and when people laugh when you fall, dust yourself off, stand up on the inside and keep going.

It’s not easy but ultimately being frustrated and unfulfilled is worse than pushing through the public attacks. It does not mean being rude and rebellious towards friends who don’t understand us but rather having a quiet confidence and faith in God that everything is going to be okay. We need to keep standing up on the inside and not be so afraid of making a mistake that we end up doing nothing at all.

Perhaps sing the chorus above to stir yourself up (you know you want to!) Fight those negative thoughts that are holding you back and go for it.

Flawsome Friday

I haven’t written a post for a while. My running injury has zapped a lot of my energy emotionally and there hasn’t been much left to give. I am sitting here now having a short break at the end of the day, so thought to write down some thoughts to share, instead of simply pondering them inside my head in private.

I’ve been reminded again this week how many people outwardly seem to have it all together, yet deep down inside you can tell something isn’t right. On the outside, everything is fine, but behind closed doors, they are in serious trouble. Often these people appear confident and secure and pretend to be whoever they think others will admire. Yet they are insecure and like most of us, have deep-rooted fears of rejection.

The fear of rejection exists when we base our self-worth on other people’s opinions of us and often those that hurt us, have poor self-image themselves. I don’t want to get into a heavy topic for a Friday afternoon as we head into the weekend, so instead let me remind you that you are ‘flawsome’ (an individual who embraces their flaws and knows they are awesome.)

We are all doing the best we can, so don’t waste your time comparing yourself to others who seem to have it all together. I promise you, nobody is perfect and we are all under construction! You may still have areas to overcome, but you need to have an image of a champion on the inside and know you are a victor not a victim.

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Crunchy Courage

I had a delicious spoonful of crunchy, homemade peanut butter at a farmer’s market on Sunday, which inspired this title. There is no deep meaning (although if you give me a few minutes I’m sure I can come up with one!)

Too often I have not done something out of fear but I am not letting fear decide my future anymore. Even something as simple as driving an hour by myself to a race used to scare me, especially when I had never been to the area before. However, this is exactly what I did on Sunday and the risk was worth it. I spontaneously decided to participate in a 12km trail race, which was being hosted in conjunction with the Eston Agricultural Show. It turned out to be a fun-filled morning, with highlights including winning the ladies race and having an ostrich run alongside me for a few metres in the game reserve!

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Winning races is new to me. I have run for years and never stepped on a podium, yet I have been humbled by that honour lately. However, I have never pursued this kind of success and prefer to value each day and think that if we are working towards our goals, and becoming better version of ourselves, we are already successful now, not only when a podium or promotion shows up.

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I have to fight fear, anxiety and self-doubt daily and often I do it publicly in my blog or in the conversations I have with the people I meet on my journey. It isn’t easy, however, this vulnerability is necessary in order for me to grow and in turn this enables me to have more to give others, because you can’t give away what you don’t have. I do my best to relate and listen to friends who trust me with their pain and this month have been humbled by stories of addiction and recovery that have been shared with me.

The consequences of being open and no longer living behind a mask, are that you will be attacked by critics and those peanuts from the gallery will hurt. (I think I just found a deeper meaning to my title!) In the future, instead of dodging the peanuts thrown at me, I will simply wave my arms around and catch them, stuffing fistfuls into my mouth and enjoying every bite (this may not seem as effective if you aren’t a peanut butter fan like me, but I hope you get the idea.)

The truth is we are usually our biggest critic. Be kinder to yourself this week and in turn you’ll be able to be kinder to those around you too.  Stop hiding who you truly are and know deep down that YOU ARE ENOUGH.

Fishing For Compliments

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I recently watched an episode of a reality show where a woman in her early twenties created a fake online profile and cultivated deceptive relationships that were based on a lie – she pretended to be someone she was not. Although the scam was a success at first, it eventually ended up hurting her and those she interacted with and after much damage had been done, she came clean by revealing her true identity. Many tears were shed.

This young woman’s heart was filled with shame and she felt she didn’t measure up to the world’s standards, having experienced rejection time and time again. Like many of us, she had come to believe that some parts of her were flawed and most of this thinking was a result of wounds she had received growing up. If you don’t believe you are worthy of love as a child, it is difficult to believe you are worthy of love as an adult. I think many of us can relate to this. I know I certainly can. It’s only by God’s grace that you slowly start to heal and realize how valuable you are.

Her painful past was causing her to have a warped view of herself and the way she interacted with the world. She turned to social media to seek romance based on false pretences, yet creating fake profile photos and elaborate hobby lists didn’t fill her void and the more she tried to be liked, the more extravagant her stories and lies became. Thankfully, by the end of the show she managed to find the help she needed to free her from this prison and accept herself for the beautiful person she truly was.

The desperate need for affirmation and love sees many people turning to others, often complete strangers, for approval and validation and social media is their platform of choice. It is a vicious circle as everyone tries to keep up with everyone else, when in reality we are all battling with similar insecurities and would be better off being honest about our struggles.

There is no need to reveal your heart on your Timeline if you don’t want to but I think part of the reason we are often “tired” is because we spend so much time and energy trying to keep up appearances and upload our own version of a fake profile picture by wearing masks and pretending everything is fine, when clearly it isn’t.

The good news is that you are not alone and I don’t have all the answers but I do know that sometimes a good cry is a healthy way of letting yourself grieve. There is no reason to fear abandonment, shame or rejection if you let the tears flow. Even if you do it in private, simply letting it all out, allowing yourself to feel again instead of suppressing the emotions, is an important step in the healing process.

“The tears … streamed down, and I let them flow as freely as they would, making of them a pillow for my heart. On them it rested.” (Augustine – Confessions)

Adventures In A Tutu And Takkies

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The Comrades Marathon was an adventure! My race went better than expected and I am humbled by the experience and honoured to have been part of this incredible event. Many people didn’t know I was running until a few weeks before and this is because most of the time the challenges I set for myself are sacred to me and I don’t want the added attention and pressure that an audience would bring.

However, my approach is slowly changing and although I sometimes like the idea of living as a hermit or being on a deserted island (my sister and I often joke about this when we want to escape the world!) our lives are meant to be lived with others and it is better to share our adventures. I have been surprised several times this week by the genuine interest and delight people show when they see the Comrades logo on my t-shirt (which I have been wearing often lately) and it is exciting to exchange stories and feel connected.

Adventures can come in many forms. For most of my friends, parenthood is their biggest adventure at the moment, whereas my infertility has lead me to explore other sorts of adventures like writing, running and competing in fitness competitions. Whether it is travelling or starting a business, having children or running a marathon, we will enjoy life’s journey so much more if we share our experiences, even if it means we open ourselves up to pain and disappointment by being vulnerable in this way.

I have been wounded many times by people’s hurtful comments since I started opening up about my life and it is tempting to retreat to safety when this happens by putting up defensive walls and shutting others out. Then the turning point came when I realized that it doesn’t matter if others reject me. I am not going to pretend I have it all together and won’t let the opinion of others stop me from being honest and sharing my struggles, as well as my triumphs.

On the outside we may all look like we are getting by in our busy bubbles but on the inside most of us are yearning for more. As a woman, I have been reminded recently that I still have that desire to twirl in my flowing dress and feel like a princess. To let go of all the things I think I ought to be and not accept those negative messages as facts. There is no reason to feel ashamed for not measuring up to a standard the world sets. Personally I need to stop feeling less of a woman for not being a mother and not waste so much energy trying to keep up appearances when I am having a hard day.

Give yourself permission to show your vulnerability and stop wasting energy trying to suppress the pain. Choose to forgive. Share your story. Enjoy your adventure. Twirl in your tutu and let the tears flow.

 

Good Grief

I have had a particularly difficult start to the year and feel like I am going crazy! There is so much to unravel and most of my words have found themselves tossed aside on scrunched up pieces of paper, never to be read. However, I am not willing to settle in a corner and sulk and am determined to push through and in doing so, share my sporadic thoughts, as disjointed as they may be.

I keep asking myself, what pain am I prepared to sustain in order to achieve what I want from life? This applies to both physical and emotional pain and is something I began to explore in my previous post: “Start-Struggle-Finish” where I encouraged us to not skip the struggle and instead fight for what is important, even if it uncomfortable.

“Back to school” has been trending and I think it has impacted my wounds more this year than ever before. I manage to hide my sadness well when chatting to friends, who zealously share the excitement of their children bravely settling into a new class. Although I do want to hear the news, and don’t want to be excluded, there are also times when I feel trapped and can hardly wait for the conversation to be over. On those days all I want to do is close my eyes and not open them until the aching has stopped.

People will say how can you still feel this strongly after so many years? For me, grieving over infertility and longing for that genetic link is normal. To be told “you shouldn’t feel that way” is hurtful. The loss of a dream, any dream, is hard to process. It isn’t a death or an event that you can mark the occasion and move on. There is no end. It’s hard to explain what I mean, which is why these are the kind of thoughts I mentioned earlier that should perhaps stay on those discarded pieces of paper!

I hope by continuing to be open about my feelings it helps you realise that it’s okay to be a work in progress and you’re allowed to be vulnerable and not have everything figured out. You are allowed to grieve and be a mess! I realised this week that I still grieve over shattered dreams and it is not something that I will ever get over. It has changed me and although I don’t let it control my life anymore (and I can say that with confidence), it is always there. It is a part of me and I am not going to be ashamed or embarrassed to admit, from time to time, those deep emotions surface and rip my heart to shreds.

“Weeping is a sign of health here on earth. Isn’t that a chilling omen? Not laughter, but tears is the life sign.” (Calvin Miller)

Comrades Ate My Cheeks

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I didn’t plan on writing a blog today. This is a spontaneous entry to clear my scrambled thoughts, which means you are in for a bumpy read with no clear direction or destination! Exit anytime.

Last weekend I ran the Comrades marathon. It was an honour to be a part of it. The training this year has been tough (both physically and emotionally) and a few days before the race, I was still not convinced that lining up on that start line was the right thing to do. However, I was blessed with a strong run, an improved time and incredible memories. I even achieved my goal to ‘finish with a smile’ and was told I looked relaxed and happy throughout the day.

After all the exercising leading up to this point, it felt strange to relax for a week, re-feed the body and brain and reflect on the hills we recently climbed. Repetitive long distance training takes a toll on me physically and naturally as Comrades drew nearer, my face started to look rather hollow. However, I am pleased to report that my peanut butter and couch potato script has had a positive influence on my cheeks, which started to fill out again almost immediately. I am highlighting my cheeks here, and being a bit silly, because my cheeks (or lack thereof) became a hot topic of conversation last month, which I suppose is human nature, but it was hard to swallow and eventually gave me indigestion!

If you are constantly worried about what other people think, you will be distracted from your destiny. I had other medical factors that came into play last month, which had nothing to do with Comrades training, but also negatively impacted my appearance. Those details are nobody’s business, yet we are creatures who love to speculate and I understand why people did. Luckily, my hollow cheeks were a temporary side effect, and we also have short attention spans, meaning #debbieneedsafacebra soon moved further and further down newsfeed. Despite my outward appearance, I was stronger than ever been before and could run 87kms sensibly and comfortably. Case closed.

One’s physical appearance is a personal subject and being called names triggered memories of rejection, which is never fun. Everyone has hurts from their past. Although my heart is healed, there is still a human part of me that feels incredibly sad when I think back on certain events in my life. Sometimes I can brush them off but other times it makes me angry, defensive, even hungry (this is where pity parties are tempting, and they usually come with an abundance of tasty treats too!)

I am taking a risk, being vulnerable as always, no tongue in cheek here, and hope in doing so it encourages you to do some reflecting too. Is there something in your past that causes emotional emptiness, even today? Does this trigger you to numb your longing for healing with a temporary physical pleasure? Often issues are big and complicated (I know mine are) and you overcome one layer, only to realize there are many layers still to go. Like peeling an onion, it leaves you in tears every time. There is no easy solution, but I find it helps to think of something good that has happened despite the pain from the event. (I used everyone’s doubts and rude remarks as fuel on my run and I never ran out of energy!)

With chipmunk cheeks or chiselled cheekbones, I can smile either way, despite what the crowd has to say. I have learnt to pay more attention to what God says about me, than what the grapevine does and I challenge you to do the same.

More Peanut Butter, Less Peanuts

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I love peanut butter and can easily eat an entire jar in one sitting (but generally stick to a few teaspoons a day!) A large helping of ‘peanut gallery’ gossip on the other hand, leaves a bitter taste in my mouth and I do my best to avoid such indulgence. I am responsible for controlling my appetite and these temptations but I can’t control the actions of others. This is hard to swallow at times, especially when the peanuts are being thrown my way.

I have felt embarrassed because of what people have been thinking and saying recently and my confidence level has been tested. I have learnt from experience that not everybody is going to approve of me and God will give me the grace to keep going, even when it is emotionally hard. It is far easier to add fuel to the fire, instead of taking the high road and being kind and courteous. Forgiveness is something we have to do on purpose, sometimes daily, even if we don’t feel like it.

I may not want to share my last teaspoon of peanut butter with the gallery just yet, but I am working on it and keeping an open heart, as communication often clears up confusion. I don’t always get it right, and I desperately want to defend myself against my critics but I trust God to take care of things. Everywhere we go people are hurting and discouraged, even those sitting in the peanut gallery. They often have their own unresolved issues that have nothing to do with us. It is hard not to let bitterness take root when we are wronged but we need to persevere, spread God’s love and compassion (thick and generously, like we would peanut butter on toast!) and help heal those wounded hearts.

The Suffering Olympics

This is one of those honest posts, which won’t necessarily make me popular with people, but thankfully that is not why I write and I am simply sharing the burden on my heart today. Often when we are struggling with something, we are told to look at others who are worse off than ourselves, to help put our problems into perspective. By doing so we may realise that we are overreacting and our suffering doesn’t rank with other forms of pain. This concept can have merit of course, but I think it also needs to be handled with care. I am not only referring to the ‘big’ things like loss, surgery and tragedy that change your life forever, but also the ‘little’ everyday stuff that we endure regularly.

I caught the flu bug going around this week and was quickly reminded how lucky I was (since I didn’t have children to take care of) which meant I could at least rest and get well, unlike the moms in my circle battling the same thing, who have to “carry on regardless” owing to parental responsibilities. A stab at my perceived ‘carefree’ childless life, would normally not bother me much, but it hurt more than usual because I was feeling sick and vulnerable and as a result it was tempting to fire back with the thoughts swirling in my congested mind about how infertility is long-term for me and flu is a short-term obstacle and … But I kept quiet, bounced those thoughts away and offered my help and support instead. Here is the lesson learnt:

The point is not to compare pain. 

We don’t have to play games, compare trials and attempt to earn gold medals in the Suffering Olympics. This simply leads us to believe that everyone else’s story is meaningless unless we perceive it to be as bad as our own. The end result is that no one acknowledges anyone’s pain. I love encouraging others and do my best to not let comparison of pain get in the way of this, especially when it has to do with my trigger – children. Even when it comes to friends who are tired parents and problems with children is their biggest burden, I will not let that stop me from acknowledging their struggles. We all need to help each other.

If we can find it in our hearts to do this, then everybody wins.