Forward Living: Remember, it’s not always about you

Most of us have felt the sting of rejection during our lifetime and it doesn’t feel good, right? However, feeling rebuffed shouldn’t affect how happy we are. Yet sometimes it does. Our bloated egos get in the way because we take things personally.

Recently I was enjoying a beach day with a friend. Suddenly a seagull swooped over and dropped a “deposit” on her head. She got so bent out of shape (actually, it was gross!) that she started jumping up and down screeching, “Why did that (expletive) bird have to drop his (fill in the blank) on my head — on <I>my <I>head!” (Yup, she said it twice.)

Trying for a bit of levity I said, “I don’t think the seagull intentionally dive-bombed his ‘business’ on your head.” Still in a frenzy she said, “Yes, but why me?”

Why me, indeed!

When I was a medical practice administrator I danced to the tune of the medical director. (Good thing I like to dance!) For once, the doctor and I were in agreement over a particular issue. I called a meeting and informed the staff that we had to tighten the patient flow. I didn’t single out a particular department, as each area worked in concord with the others.

What I perceived as a no-brainer turned into a tumult of “baby” stuff complete with finger pointing and snarky remarks. When I questioned my staff as to why they were taking my direction personally, my inquiry was met with rolling eyeballs and sheepish grins.

If you’re alive you’ll be criticized, count on it! Some folks can handle it; others can’t. For some, even friendly advice feels like friendly fire. Be it criticism or friendly advice, it shouldn’t be taken personally nor tied to our self-worth and identity. Rather than seeing it as a put-down, it’s smart to re-evaluate the situation and perceive it as a learning experience.

Who hasn’t been rejected by a love interest? Perhaps that particular person simply was not that into us. OK, so our ego got bruised, but is it the end of the world? Hardly! Just because one person isn’t interested doesn’t mean that we’ll never find “the one.”

Yet, for some, being spurned by someone they’re attracted to can feel like a catastrophic event. Studies show that feeling rejected may trigger deeper issues that haven’t been resolved. Unfortunately, some folks become so gun-shy that they sentence themselves to life in the prison of loneliness.

Folks who are “people pleasers” dread being disliked. They will turn themselves inside out just to fit in. How sad is that? At the end of the day the “people pleasers” are so busy accommodating other folks that their own needs go by the wayside.

As a freelance writer, I’m no stranger to rejection. Early on, I was thrilled when the editor of a particular magazine liked my article, but when he wanted to make some changes I became annoyed. In the end, being published trumped my ego. I did what he suggested. I have since learned that editors are editors for a reason: They’re always right.

Some folks will post something on Facebook and when there just are smatterings of “likes” they take it personally. This phenomenon baffles me. In reality, the majority of “friends” on Facebook are not our really-real friends.

Few folks are immune from the prick of rejection and criticism. Emotions drive thoughts as much as thoughts drive emotions. Sure, it can feel like a punch in the gut or a stab wound to the heart. But it’s best to remember that these little hurts say nothing about who we are as a person. Methinks we humans have become too thin-skinned. We take so many things to heart that it’s no wonder the pharmaceutical companies are getting rich on our neuroses.

When I feel slighted I always remind myself: If not this, then something better. And guess what? In my experience, the something better always came along.

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.