Reader Question: How do I deal with rejection? I have a daughter who no longer wants to have any connection with me. Was it my fault?
I’m so sorry this happened to you. I don’t have a child, but I can only imagine how the hurt feels multiplied when there’s both a biological and emotional link. Even so, I’m not a stranger to rejection. I’ve faced major rejection several times in my life and each time, I felt like my world was torn apart.
So let’s begin by acknowledging that rejection isn't easy. Because of that, you need extra infusions of self-love and self-care. Also, be sure to reach out to to others — family, friends, a therapist, or a coach — for the support you need and deserve. This isn't a time to suffer in isolation. Although it might feel uncomfortable to seek support at first, the love and care you receive will help soothe your pain.
Healing from Loss
On some level, rejection always involves loss. One way to begin healing is to grieve for what you feel has been lost. You’ve lost your daughter in a sense and you’ve probably lost your idealized version of a happy relationship with her.
If you suppress grief, it will only linger. To heal, we need to feel the pain of our loss and express our emotions, but it's best to do this in manageable doses. It doesn’t help to overwhelm yourself with suffering.
Mindfulness can help. When emotions arise around the sense of rejection, you might resist them because naturally they feel painful. But try to be present to whatever emotions appear, as best you can.
Unless they’re too intense or intolerable. If that happens, turn your attention elsewhere. Do something nice for yourself or something practical that needs to get done. Or call someone for support.
Through mindfulness, we’re able to see the transitory nature of emotions. As painful as an emotion may seem, it will pass as long as you don’t fuel it with additional commentary. You can gain confidence through gently facing your emotions this way, knowing they are like waves that will subside. At times, you’ll see the ocean even becomes calm.
The more you can respond to the emotions with presence, the more they will lose their power to overwhelm you. This takes time and practice, but it will help you to heal the feelings of rejection.
On the other hand, if you’re not feeling any emotions, that’s not uncommon. Disconnecting and numbing ourselves provides a means of self-protection. Don’t feel guilty about it. Again, simply be aware of it. When the time feels right, you can open yourself to feeling the emotions in small doses. But don’t push yourself too fast.
You can also explore the feeling of rejection by looking at where it may have appeared earlier in your life. Maybe there’s a core wound that needs to be healed. Once this original pain is healed, it may be easier to accept your daughter's decision without seeing it as a rejection of who you are.
Journaling is another way to enter into the healing process. Allow yourself to write freely without paying attention to grammar or perfect wording. Let all the hurt, sadness, and anger spill out onto the page. Again, pace yourself. You can’t heal all your pain in one go, so work with it a little bit at a time. Whenever it begins to feel overwhelming, have a self-care activity that you can move into.
Is It Your Fault?
Nothing in this world is the fault of one person. Everything is interdependent.
As the conventional saying goes, it takes two to tango, but there’s actually many more people involved than that. A lifetime of influences have shaped you and led to where you are now. All the people that influenced you have a piece in how you have interacted with your daughter. You could see this from a generational perspective and also consider that karmic elements could be involved.
From this perspective, if we get into blame, the fault finding could be endless.
It’s much better to simply understand that no one person is to blame. Don’t blame yourself or your daughter in that wide brush stroke sort of way. We're all human beings trying to heal and often making a mess of it as we go along.
On the other hand, you may have engaged in actions that contributed to the separation. Your power and your healing lies in taking responsibility for your actions. You can only find self-acceptance — the opposite of and antidote to rejection — when you accept all aspects of yourself, and especially when you remove any sense of judgment from the “bad” parts.
That doesn’t give you or anyone else license to engage in negative behaviors. You just stop judging yourself for being human and do your best to avoid harmful behaviors, knowing that you will screw up sometimes. Because no one is perfect and that’s just how it is.
Healing from Rejection
To heal the sense of rejection you feel, first take an honest look at the mistakes you’ve made. Confess them in a sense, at least to yourself, and imagine that you are fully forgiven. Imagine this again and again. You can visualize a stream of white light moving through you, forgiving and healing any harm you have caused.
Remember all the good things you did as you raised your daughter too. Don’t focus on the negative alone.
Secondly, learn from whatever mistakes you’ve made in your relationship with your daughter. Then set out to work on changing whatever needs to be changed. Maybe you have certain ways of communicating that tend to set things off. You can change that, and it will be beneficial not just for your daughter but for you as well.
Thirdly, look within and acknowledge the parts of yourself that you reject. You can only find complete healing when you stop rejecting parts of yourself. External events are mirrors showing us where we need to work. Embrace every aspect of yourself with love, acceptance, and compassion. The more whole you feel, the more you'll be able to step back and let go of the rejection you feel from your daughter's actions.
Always remember, you're not alone. Young adults breakaway from their parents all the time. It's a classic story theme that's been handed down through the ages. It may be the only way she sees to establish her individual identity.
The experience can open your heart to all the pain and suffering parents have endured over the years when their children break off the connection. And, if you put yourself in the child's shoes, you can understand their pain as well. This will soften your heart and amplify your love and compassion.
Lessons in Impermanence, Love, and Spiritual Awakening
These are some of the additional life lessons I’ve learned from rejection.
Rejection - as brutal as it felt in the moment - reminded me in an unquestionable way, that everything changes. I may be able to influence other people and events, but I can’t control them entirely. When a particular karma ripens, things will fall apart, regardless of what I want. You know the saying, “This ship has sailed?”
The more I cling to what was, the more suffering I create for myself. We need to take time to grieve and time to heal. And, at some point, we need to close the door on this episode and move on for our own health and well-being.
Just as things went awry with your daughter, they may suddenly come back together again. It could be months or it could be years or it might be never. But you don’t know. I had a turbulent relationship with my father. I later came to regret my actions and spent the last weeks of his life taking care of him.
Rejection taught me to love unconditionally, as best I can. Love means wanting another person to be happy, whether they want to be with you or not. Of course, I had a mix of emotional reactions at the time including anger, but at the core I committed to love.
I also aligned more fully with my spiritual practice in response to rejection. If everything could so easily fall apart, I needed to align with what was true and unchanging rather than investing in the impermanent and worldly.
My heart is with you. I know it’s not easy to heal rejection, but it’s very possible and absolutely necessary for your own health and well-being. I’m sure I’ll fall apart on some level if I face rejection again, but I also have confidence that I’ll regain my sense of self-worth and wholeness far more quickly.
As you know, I'm not a doctor or a therapist so this is not medical advice but simply sharing my personal experience and perspective. If you feel stuck and unable to heal on your own, I highly recommend seeking professional help. Psychotherapy has helped me tremendously.
Thank you for your presence, I know your time is precious! Don’t forget to sign up for my e-letter and get access to all the free self-development resources (e-books, mini-guides + worksheets) in the Always Well Within Library. May you be happy, well, and safe – always. With love, Sandra