I laid in my top bunk bed (my brother got the bottom one), tense and short of breath. I could hear my mom’s cries in the other room, my dad yelling and hurting her. I was about five or six years old.
I remember one time my mom took me to the nearby Staunton, Illinois hospital because I couldn’t catch my breath. Nothing was physically wrong with me. My nervous system was on overload.
It was a panic attack. I felt helpless to protect my mom who also seemed fragile and defenseless.
Over 40 years later, I’ve learned I have a differently wired nervous system than 80% of the population, which makes me feel more vulnerable to environmental stimuli, sights, sounds, smells and other people’s moods.
The term is Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) coined by Dr. Elaine Aron in the 1990’s. It’s not a diagnosis or bad thing. It’s just a thing….we are born with more sensitive nervous systems.
As HSP’s we have various personality traits in common. Because our hearts feel more tender, and we sense what others are feeling, it can feel a bit like we are unprotected from other people. Trusting others may be very difficult.
We often feel misunderstood, because 80% of the population doesn’t share our wiring. We have a different world view than most.
We can feel easily hurt because others don’t seem to share our compassion, empathy and caring. We wonder how others can be so cruel and cold. We can feel like victims…
This is normal. It’s OK.
You are OK. I am OK. It’s all OK.
This tender heart is a good thing. The challenge is keeping the heart open. It’s SO easy to feel hurt and rejected by people and shut off and isolate.
Having lost my daughter, Maddie (22) three months ago, I have felt more protective of myself. It’s brought up the fact that I have a hard time trusting humans.
I have felt more hurt and rejected because I’ve judged people in their inability to connect with me. I’ve judged certain family members because they aren’t “grieving enough.”
If we own a business or are in sales, having this fear of rejection can really hold us back. We can feel very hurt when others don’t respond to our outreach efforts.
We can feel ignored. And then we’ll want to get angry with the person who is “making us feel invisible.” We will REJECT them first so they can no longer hurt us.
This is a vicious cycle that keeps us locked in loneliness. I’m not saying I have totally healed my heart from feelings of rejection. I’m on a path of healing my heart, and losing Maddie has brought up so many emotions.
I’m human. I’m being real with you. Am I progressing, getting healthier emotionally? For so many years, until I learned emotional freedom technique or tapping in 2007, I didn’t want to feel my feelings.
I’m not doing this grieving thing perfectly, because there is no such thing. I’m doing my best to keep my heart open even if I perceive being attacked. I believe that IS progress.
So what can you do if you have a fear of rejection that stops you from truly living and trusting others?
Only YOU can decide what your right path is. I can only share my experience, strength and hope with you, and you decide if it’s an appropriate path for you.
Here’s what I do to the best of my ability and readiness (in other words, I don’t ALWAYS follow this recipe if my heart is not open enough):
1) Acknowledge my pain. It’s OK to feel like I do. For example, “I don’t trust others. They will hurt me if I let them know the real me. They don’t get me. I don’t fit in. I’m weird. They’ll judge me. They’ll not like me. They will reject me. I will be all alone. But I feel lonely NOW.”
2) Be open to questioning my beliefs. “Can they really hurt me? Or am I rejecting THEM first? Is this really about not trusting THEM, or is it about not trusting ME? What if I could feel good about ME regardless of what THEY DO or THINK? As long as I’m living in integrity with my values, I’m not doing anything wrong. I will therefore assume I’m lovable and good enough!”
3) Tap using EFT/tapping to release the pent up emotions.
4) Once I’ve centered myself, have a little more clarity, and take ownership of my OWN feelings, then I may speak to the other person if I find it necessary.
Note that I do a daily self-care routine that really helps me to manage my energy and emotional reactions. It involves journaling, gratitude journal, reading, daily energy routine, Tibetan yoga rites, healing code, tapping,
meditation and prayer.
Yes it sounds like a lot, but it’s what I need. It takes me a full hour and more time if I have it. I am dedicated to self-growth and transformation.
If I want to help others (which as an HSP this is a calling), I have to help myself FIRST. This self-care is an indication of self-love and nurturing. It’s my way of accepting myself so I can keep the feelings of rejection at bay.
It’s not bullet proof against feeling rejected, but it’s probably 95% in my experience on most days. Yes, I still get triggered, and that’s OK.
And you don’t have to start out with such a lengthy self-care ritual. Start with 5 minutes of journaling daily, for instance.
If this path feels right for you, I invite you to play in my circle. I teach a monthly tapping class typically at my home in Maryland Heights, MO on the 2nd Thursday of the month.
February is an exception and I’ll be teaching at Olive Oils & More in Edwardsville, IL on Tuesday, 2/12. Register here.
I will love you, accept you, not judge you for where you’re at, not put myself on a pedestal of superiority. I’ll just be here for you and support you in a meaningful way, until you can love yourself.