We've all experienced rejection in some form or another. A boy or girl doesn’t reciprocate our feelings of a crush. We aren't picked for the starring role in the play. We get that form rejection letter from a publisher. There’s a myriad of examples, but you get the idea.
Rejection hurts, there’s no doubt about that. But is it the rejection that leads us down the path of low self-esteem? Or is there something deeper already lurking there? In an article I read titled “Quieting the inner critic” by Laurie Meyers (Counseling Today Volume 56 #8)she suggests that there might already be a strong foundation for the pain that rejection produces. A foundation of low self-esteem accompanied by low self-worth and maybe even some family messages that didn't sit well with us as kids and still don’t in adulthood.
Her solution? Practicing self-compassion.
As a mental health counselor, I couldn't agree with her more. Too often I find people in the field of mental health so focused on helping others that they forget to help themselves. In quick succession, counselors end up burning out, fraught with secondary trauma, and so tired from working endless hours only to realize they aren't super human and can’t do it all.
And when we can’t do it all, we start to feel down about ourselves. Doubting our abilities. Considering the notion that we might, in fact, be failures after all.
It’s a shame when this happens. And I think it happens to writers too. It happens to me. My own combination of low self-esteem, fatigue, and history of family messages have been known to whorl around in my brain just long enough to stop me in my tracks. And when that happens, my writing suffers.
So, I've decided to take Laurie Meyers suggestions and make self-compassion something that I work on weaving into my daily practices by:
· Setting reasonable expectations instead of trying to be super human. I may not write the next Great American Novel, but what I do write is going to be from the heart and be written to reach others. And if a novel gets published in the process…I can handle that.
· Celebrating every achievement instead of focusing on my setbacks and limitations. Everything I write is better than having written nothing at all! It’s about getting out the stories that need to be told and sharing them with those who find joy in them.
· Taking care of myself instead of forgetting that I need fuel to keep the writing fire going. Whether it’s some physical exercise, social stimulation, or just soaking in a bubble bath. I matter too and if I don’t take care of myself, who else is going to?
· Learning & growing from rejection instead of falling into the belief that I’m not good enough because I was rejected. I will feel the feelings that come with rejection, then re-frame it and learn how to write better because of it. Not even rejection will keep this writer down.
Compassion for me? Yeah, I can get into that…and when I forget, I’ll re-read my plan for self-compassion again and again and again.