I hate being rejected – its a ball of knot kind of feeling – like winning the Lottery and having to give it back. Rejection is a slap that leaves its mark – and resentment is what makes that mark into a tattoo. If you’ve ever been rejected – and I believe all of us have – here’s a little Buddhist tete-a-tete to help us feel better about ourselves – and most importantly about the people who have rejected us.
Attachment, according to the teaching of Buddha is the root of all suffering. This isn’t only in reference to things but people, places, ideas and the like. Anything we fear to let go of is an attachment. Any action of attachment such as clinging and craving is based from fear. Therefore living with want is living in fear because losing what we want causes us suffering. It makes sense. I’ll use a point of my reference – relationships. I’ve noticed that the harder I work towards making my relationship work – the more I fear to lose them. Rather than just existing in the moment – I plan for better or worse and usually the worse is the one that ends up working out. Much to my own suffering.
As I see it rejection is the failure of attachment. No one likes to lose as much as they like to fail. When I lose what I love – I feel like a failure. When I feel like a failure I begin to question myself. If only I had not said this – or done that – if only I had been more complacent, kinder, smarter, younger. If only I had done things differently I wouldn’t be in such a miserable predicament. This type of thinking is folly and an intellectual f-you to the universe. As beings of light (with no bodies) being attached, even to ourselves is delusional. This is because, according to the big-tummy-man, there’s nothing to attach yourself too:
[A]ccording to the Buddhist point of view, nonattachment is exactly the opposite of separation. You need two things in order to have attachment: the thing you’re attaching to, and the person who’s attaching. In nonattachment, on the other hand, there’s unity. There’s unity because there’s nothing to attach to. If you have unified with the whole universe, there’s nothing outside of you, so the notion of attachment becomes absurd. Who will attach to what?”
Anger and resentment are the two smelly byproducts of attachment. When you sit in either of these emotions it can feel like a dirty diaper – sometimes grown people act like they should be wearing one too – stomping their saggy butts around the house relishing fantasies of revenge. Who wants to turn their cheek and smile? Maturity is overrated! I want to key his car. WAH!
Holding onto a resentment is like drinking poison and then expecting the other person to die. It’s a negative feeling that attracts more negative energy. Since attachment is suffering and holding onto things is attachment, wouldn’t you rather spend your time holding on to things that promote growth, development and self-love? While its difficult to forgive someone who hurt you – you are only prolonging your hurt by learning not to forgive. Rejection can be a good thing because it can open us up to learning more about ourselves. Personally my rejections have lead me to find this path of non-attachment which in turn has opened me up to new and more loving relationships. Learning to let go of everything, including ourselves, is what Buddhists believe can lead to happiness. I don’t know much about that because I’m not quite there (I still hold on tight to things like good skin care products and nice perfume). But where I’m standing right now is a lot less smelly so I guess I’ll keep inching forward.
Below is the story of Pema Choden who transformed her feelings of rejection and resentment into becoming the first American-born Buddhist nun. Here she talks about how to turn your life’s frown upside down and walk a more peaceful and gratifying path: