Expecting Rejection : 4 Ways of Changing HSP Self-Talk
We all have statements that we listen to at a subconscious level…things we heard while growing up, learned through early experiences, came to believe in order to make sense of our surroundings. If these are positive, such as, “Life is fair and abundant,” or “I can do anything,” we’re in great shape and life will likely go pretty well for us.
If our self-talk, however, is not as positive…if, “Life is unfair and there’s never enough,” or “I’m not worthy,” is the norm, things will be more challenging. These aren’t generally conscious thoughts, and we don’t choose for them to be true, but our focus and belief reinforce them and get in the way of what’s possible.
For Highly Sensitive People, one of these self-statements is often, “I’ll be rejected (if I’m my authentic self).” We go about our lives unconsciously, and even consciously, expecting rejection. Feeling different and misunderstood and hearing that we’re over-sensitive, silly, ridiculous, attention-seeking or uptight can lend easily to the fear of, and expectation of, being rejected. (If you’re not clear about Highly Sensitive traits, you can learn more here). We may or may not receive the responses we’d like, but if we assume they’ll be negative, rejecting, then they’re more likely to be so.
What’s an HSP to do then, especially if these unwanted responses are frequent? Here are 4 thoughts:
~Let go of/reframe the self-talk
~Share your sensitivities with others
~Love and honor yourself
1. Let go/reframe:
The first step toward change is awareness. If we ask ourselves, “What am I telling myself about this?” and realize that we’re assuming a negative result (“If I say something, I’ll be misunderstood and people won’t like me.”), we have that ‘aha’ moment and stop being controlled by the unconscious thought.
Once we become aware that we’re expecting rejection, we can shift that belief. If we let go of past experiences and what may happen in the future, and focus on just the current situation we can open the door for a new, positive experience. What if we expect the best? It just may happen. Maybe it won’t, but at least we allowed the chance for a positive outcome. If we assume all is well, we are more likely to speak or act in a way that allows for a better reception and result.
2. Share your sensitivities with others:
It can be helpful to let those with whom you interact often know about your sensitivities, or at least how a situation affects you. If you want to comment about something a friend just said that felt hurtful, it can help to first mention that hurt, in a constructive way. You can choose to have the conversation about being HSP and how you process things more deeply, or maybe say, “When you said this, I took it this way and it felt hurtful/I felt disrespected.” Now your friend understands where you’re coming from, and there’s an opening for discussion. She may not have realized you would have any reaction at all to what she said, or meant something entirely different than the way you took it, and you can discuss it.
If you have a friend or partner with whom you tend to conflict often, it can be helpful to talk with him about Highly Sensitive traits. Explaining how you process things deeply and can get overwhelmed easily and find it challenging to let things go can have a huge impact on your relationship. He can realize that you see and feel things quite differently than he does. If you feel more understood, you’re much less likely to expect rejection.
3. Honor and love yourself:
If we truly love and accept ourselves we’re less likely to care what others think. If we don’t care what people think, we don’t worry about what they will think, or do. If we’re ok with being Highly Sensitive…see ourselves as still worthy of love and respect and good things, we’ll be better able to handle it if a situation doesn’t turn out the way we’d like.
If someone says something you don’t like, and you love and honor yourself, you can respond by stating your feelings and asking her to be aware next time, without worry that she’ll be upset or reject you. You can’t control her behavior, but you can control how you think about and respond to it. If she does react in a way you don’t like, you can then decide how you’ll handle it. It’s likely, though, that sharing your feelings directly and calmly, being your true self, will set the stage for positive interaction. If you honor your authentic self and present this to others without reservation, thus not expecting rejection, you’ll at least be heard, and possibly more understood.
It’s also helpful to realize that just as we may be misunderstood by those who aren’t HSP, we can misunderstand those who aren’t. Highly Sensitives tend to think—How can you not feel this way, or not be affected by this, or say such a thing to someone? This is similar to non HSPs thinking—How can that bother you, why can’t you let it go, why are you so sensitive? HSPs and non-HSPs process life differently; like any relationship between two people, it’s helpful to understand the other’s viewpoint.
If your friend or partner doesn’t understand your reactions, help him understand so he realizes that you’re not being difficult, just seeing things differently. And you can try to realize that maybe he’s not just being unfeeling or disrespectful, but acting from his own natural worldview that’s less sensitive, not insensitive.
If you become aware of and shift your self-talk, explain yourself to others and truly love yourself, as well as try to see others’ viewpoints, your Highly Sensitive life may just be a bit less challenging.