Rejection may be just a part of life, but that does not mean that we are immune from fearing it could happen to us. In this episode, hosts Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen take a deep dive into the topic of rejection and the fear of it in both our personal and professional lives. Painting an honest yet hopeful outlook on dealing with the fear surrounding this dreaded word, they talk about how we gain mental tools against it all as we go through life. They also discuss communication in our relationships, the value of saying no, learning how to let go, and being comfortable with the uncomfortable. At the end of it all is love and gratitude, and these two forces could overcome all the fear we have of rejections.
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Letting Go Of The Fear Of Rejection
Jason, can I ask you a question? What has been your biggest struggle with rejection personally or professionally? What’s been either a fear of rejection or actual rejection and how did it make you feel?
I don’t know if I can pinpoint one situation, but the rejection that I fear that I still have feelings around is being in love with someone, loving someone and not having that love be returned. It’s unrequited love, unreciprocated love on a personal level. Also, on a professional level in the sense of if I put out like my book or the TV series or any of these big projects that I’ve been very proud of in my life that I’ve done up to this point. This show falls under that category. I have no idea how this is going to be received. To put something out into the world that I’ve put my entire heart into and not having it be received in the way that I would’ve hoped, which again, is the same feeling in a way of unrequited love. I’ve put my heart into something, I put my full attention into something, my heart is in it, my focus is in it and then not having it be received. That is absolutely the deepest form of rejection that I fear. It’s been very painful. Whether that’s been a woman that I’ve loved who hasn’t returned it or putting that love into a project and not having to be received the way I wanted it to be.
You’re saying you’ve experienced that and you’re also afraid of it happening again?
Yeah, because it’s painful.
Why do you think it is painful though? I’ve been thinking a lot about this.
Maybe because if I’m going to take responsibility for the pain of it, my contribution to setting myself up for pain. Maybe I have an expectation in those situations. If I put my full self into something, I’m passionate, my full passion, my full heart, I’m dedicated, I’m committed that the other person or the world ought to respond in kind and receive that love and receive that. Maybe there’s an expectation that if I dedicate myself fully to something, put everything I have into it, that somehow that will be returned to me or it should be returned to me. When it isn’t, I wonder if maybe it’s not my heart being broken, but my expectations not being met, my expectations being broken.
We talked about it how heartbreak is often the result of your expectations not being met.
I’m wondering if this is just a version of that. I’m wondering, I don’t know if that’s the answer for me, but you asked and I’m riffing in real time with you right now on that.Heartbreak is often the result of your expectations not being met. Click To Tweet
When you say it that way, if you can take a step back from yourself. It actually feels a little bit selfish. I’m not saying that you, Jason, are selfish, but that reaction is selfish. I’m doing something and people should respond to it this way. If they don’t, then I’m offended or I’m heartbroken or I’m hurt. I think that’s the bigger struggle and the bigger fear that people have. To me, this makes me wonder if that’s the fear, like I’m a failure. Maybe part of you already thinks that you’re a failure and it’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It’s like I’m looking for evidence to support my belief system that I’m a failure, rather than say a relationship ending and just having the attitude like this is the natural course of things. Things start, things end. I’m looking for evidence to be like, “You screwed up another one, didn’t you. You failed at this one too, like all the others,” which again, if you’re an entrepreneur, you’re in business for yourself or an artist, whatever it is. You’re creating things in the world. If it doesn’t go the way you wanted to or expected, you could also frame those moments as like, “I suck as an entrepreneur. I suck as an artist,” or whatever. I think you’re onto something interesting of I think our minds is humans are constantly looking for evidence to support the belief systems and the structures that are already hardwired in our neurobiology.
It’s like looking around like, “My life sucks. Where’s more evidence?” It’s confirmation bias, absolutely. Consequently, I think if our lives are going well, if we have trained ourselves to look for the good things and we talk about gratitude practices. You and I are huge on that. It’s good to train ourselves instead of looking for evidence to support something that’s wrong in our lives. Doing our best to try and train ourselves to look at a framework of what’s going right, what can I be grateful for? That’s a different energetic imprint when we do that on life.
I think it just comes down to a lot of the answers that we riff on. The solutions or the tactics that we talk about on these and throughout everything that we do with Wellevatr is it’s all about mindset training. I found over time when I’m battling with an emotion like that where usually it’s somebody else responding to me in a way that feels like rejection. It’s somebody saying, “I don’t like what you said. I don’t like what you did. I don’t like what you look like. I don’t like you in the way that you like me.” All of those emotions that’s what I started to think of and a lot of this comes back to the ways that you were feeling these as kids or teenagers.
Many of us can identify with those emotions growing up and feeling like we didn’t fit in or something or getting in trouble with our parents or saying something or wanting something and our parents not giving it to us. For me, sometimes it was in school like with teachers, I wanted their approval and all that. There are all these older emotions that maybe we’re still working through. When we’re younger, we don’t have as many mental tools, most of us. We tend to learn these things as we go on with age, unless we’re surrounded by very wise spiritual types. They say trauma is often the result of experiencing something before you can understand it. A lot of us face rejection and all sorts of different ways.
As we’re growing up, whether we’re young children or we’re teenagers, we’re developing our senses of self. That’s a crucial time. If we’re feeling rejected or if we’re feeling like we’re not getting the approval or the validation that we want, then it becomes instilled in our sense of self. We’re still facing a lot of that as adults so we have to be very conscious about it. As part of the mental work and I think this is one of the reasons that people are drawn to therapy. Therapy can often help you identify things like this. You talk through and then you realize, “That’s something that happened long ago. That’s me just being attached to the past and not letting go of the past to be very present. I’m projecting into the future the things that I don’t want and the things that I’m fearful of, etc.”
I find coming back to the mental training point that when these things come up, you can just sit with them and acknowledge them, similar to what you would do in a meditation practice and not judge them as true or no. You do not put them as part of your story. That’s another thing is that so many people just create these stories about themselves and they assume that other people are saying or doing something because they’re thinking something about them. For you, Jason, it’s, “I’m not buying your book because you’re not good enough.” Who knows why someone’s not buying your book. I don’t know what’s in that story for you, what is your fear like when you interpret that as rejection, what do you think that means? What’s the story, in other words, for you?
It’s not being seen and not being valued. This person doesn’t see value in my work as an author. They don’t see value in my work as an artist, a chef or someone who spent years literally on this project.
That’s where I’m saying like when it starts to become self-centered. This actually reminds me, I was watching American Idol and they are at this stage where they had to cut down from 40 people to 20 people. All 40 people had to perform and they’re all good. Obviously to get to the top 40 out of however many people audition for American idol. I’m sure there are many thousands. I don’t know exactly how many people auditioned, but they spend weeks and weeks going through auditions and they narrow it down. They’re at there at 40 to 20 and they all have to get on stage and do these big performances. The judges have to look at them all and see who the best relative to each other is.
That’s what I mean. Sometimes where we’re being rejected because somebody prefer as something over us or something that we’re doing or maybe they’re distracted. There are so many different scenarios in which somebody may say not now, basically. They might not be saying no. It’s, “Not right now or I’ve chosen something else for the time being.” I think a lot of the times the rejection feels because it feels permanent. It’s like, “I’m not buying your book,” just as an example but maybe that’s because they’re in the midst of reading another cookbook or they literally just bought another cookbook and so they don’t need a second one and they didn’t see yours first.
That happens all the time. If somebody decides to get something and then they realize there’s another option that comes up later that they didn’t even know of. That doesn’t mean that the second option or the new option is any worse. It might be exactly the same or very comparable. It might even be better. It’s like buying a car. You buy a car based on what you know and what you have and the decisions at the time and then amazing cars are around but just because you’re not buying them doesn’t mean that they’re not incredible for sure.
What you talked about of this selfish perception and part of the suffering not being related to not having all the information. One of the big things I remember working on years ago was as children, you talked about this trauma setting. We don’t have the mental tools. We don’t have sort of the bird’s eye view or a greater perception of what’s happened to us in our childhood. One of my big things right around rejection and abandonment was my dad leaving at a very young age and my mom and dad breaking up and that dissolution of their partnership. That happened when I was young. My child brain interpreted that as things were fine before I got here. Once I showed up on the scene, now my parents are splitting up and dad’s leaving. I didn’t have all the information, I didn’t understand how to properly perceive that situation and all of its fullness.
I was like, “They were great. They had me, I showed up and now everything’s screwed.” I actually took a lot of responsibility for that thinking, “Dad must be leaving because I’m not good enough. What’s the X factor? I’m here now.” My child brain, in a very primitive and simplistic way perceived I’m the problem. I’m the reason he’s leaving. That’s been one of the deepest source of trauma in my entire life that I’ve had to unravel and I’m still unraveling it. I’ve done a lot of work, but I still am. If I zoom out now and with all the information I have now of where my father’s state of consciousness was. He had addiction issues that ultimately killed him. He had emotional issues, he had mental problems. There were so many things that as a three-year-old, four-year-old, I didn’t understand it, I didn’t know it, I didn’t have that information, but it’s helped me not only let myself off the hook and forgive myself for believing that for so many years.
It’s helped me frame my relationship with him and enabled to forgive him in now understanding that he had things that he just never dealt with. He didn’t understand how to deal with. He wasn’t willing to deal with the addiction and the mental illness and all these things. I can start to again absolve myself from, “I was the problem. I’m not good enough. That’s why I got abandoned.” It’s not that the abandonment fear doesn’t come up or the rejection fear doesn’t come up but if I can trace it back to the original wound, the deepest source of that trauma, I can have more understanding and compassion for that situation and not take the blame for it. That’s reduced the fear around it.
It can also teach you that everything you just said about your father and his state, the more that you’ve learned about who he was, it’s a good reminder that it wasn’t about you necessarily. That’s I think what’s going on, is we’re human beings. We talked about this in the relationship episode. It’s like it’s amazing that two people can get along for long periods of time because they are still having two separate experiences and they have this whole past that’s built up to where they are. There are so many differences between one another. It’s almost as if rejection sometimes is another form of sadness that that you’re not in alignment. I think a lot of us have this desire to connect with one another. We want to form these communities that’s very embedded in who we are as human beings.
Maybe rejection also hurts. Like you were saying, not being seen or not being valued or maybe not being fully understood. I think that that can be painful because you just think that, it’s almost like coming back to the survival instincts because if this person is rejecting you then are you not going to be able to get what you want or what you need? We start to project all of these things and assumptions and everything that we’re thinking is all in our own heads. It’s almost impossible to know what anybody else’s thinking because that all depends on their ability to communicate it.Trauma is the result of experiencing something before you can understand it. Click To Tweet
That to me is also part of the mental training that I’ve been working on is when I get in my head and think things like, “What’s this person thinking of me? How do they feel about what I did or what I said?” I have so many moments around that. It’s like this underlying insecurity and this vulnerability of I’d said or did this and I don’t know if it’s going to be received in the way that I intended it to. Ultimately everything that we say and do, once it’s said or done, it’s out of our hands because it depends on so many factors about how received, but there’s nothing that we can do.
What you brought up in me, I wanted to talk about communication and there’s a distinction that I heard years ago. I think I was taking a workshop in Venice with the founders of Cafe Gratitude, Matthew and Terces Engelhart. I remember them talking about communication in their marriage, their relationship, and their family. They were talking about clarity and communication, but also being sensitive to how another person receives your communication. They were talking about the difference between no and not right now. This was so interesting to me because I realized that sometimes we do actually mean no like, “I’m not interested. I have no desire to do this in the future. It’s just no.” Sometimes it’s more accurate to actually say, “Not right now. Thank you.” When we’re in an intimate partnership or a friendship or relationship with vulnerability and intimacy and we’re trying to connect and be authentic in our communication, there are probably a lot of instances where the more accurate response is, “Not right now.” Sometimes no, tonality and pitch and how we say it means a lot. Sometimes, “Babe, do you want to go for a walk with me?” It’s like, “No,” when the more kind and an accurate response might be, “Not right now.”
That’s actually not a phrase that I hear very often. It’s such a good reminder and it’s bringing up a couple of things for me. One is I think sometimes people feel rejected if they don’t get a response at all. I know this happened to me. You put out a message and the person does not respond. As I go through my life, there are plenty of times where I haven’t responded or I take a long time to respond, especially in emails and even texts. I have texts for my birthday that I still haven’t responded to. I sat there thinking, “I’m not ready to respond yet.” It has nothing to do with this person. It’s all about me. It’s such a good reminder when I behave that way that if somebody doesn’t respond to me, I can’t take it personally, especially in business.
A lot of the times you just need to follow up with somebody. That’s where the key is. I know for me, when somebody follows up with me, it shows me that they’re on top of it and they want it bad. Sometimes it’s somebody who’s waiting for you to follow up with them to show that you care and that you want it. If you expect to put something out there and then somebody to give you a response, then you could receive a yes, you can receive a no, you could receive no response at all, but all of those could change. If you want something, you’re going to keep asking for it and finding creative ways or move on to somebody else in the meantime. It’s all about that persistence as opposed to giving up on the first try or the tenth try, the twentieth or whatever. If you want something, you’ll keep going and you’ll find a way to get it.
I think it’s also not fooling ourselves with the illusion that there’s one gatekeeper, one path or one opportunity. I think that we as a society tend to be a little bit obsessed with the penultimate opportunity like, “This is going to be the thing that skyrockets me. This is going to be the thing that breaks me or makes me a celebrity or makes me rich,” or whatever.
This person is the one and this is the one I’ve been waiting for and the love of my life.
We put so much heaviness and expectation and dense energy on the thing that is going to be our salvation. It is going to be our path to riches. Our paths to love our path to our dreams coming true but there’s not one path. There’s not one route to do this. It’s not about like if I want to break as a singer, I got to make it on American Idol. I got to make it on The Voice. If I want to be an actor, I’ve got to make it big in Hollywood or have this agent. There are so many versions of this. I think it’s all in illusion when we think that there’s only one path to have, be and do the life we want. It’s constricting and it’s stress-creating.
It’s the same thing with relationships too. I think there’s something in our society of find that one person and spend the rest of your life with them. No wonder it’s so devastating when a relationship doesn’t work out or a marriage especially. A lot of our culture is very judgmental about divorce and it instills a lot of fear in people about divorce and shame. There just seems all this negative energy around it. It’s actually remarkable to me that relationships can even stand the test of 10, 20 years. That to me is rare. Having this expectation that you’re going to find somebody and that person is going to fit you for your whole life.
Going through a relationship knowing that you’re not happy with them but you’re just so committed to stay in it no matter what. I think about that a lot too is how there’s also a lot of these ideas around, “I’m just going to stick it through thick or thin, until death do us part.” It’s like, “Is that what you want? Is that best for you or is that something that you just are doing? You think you should be doing it or you are afraid of to reject somebody?” That’s the other side of rejection too, is it’s hard to be rejected, but it’s hard to reject someone else.
Practicing it is so valuable. I want to give an example of something that I’ve had a hard time doing. I’ve been dating since my last serious relationship ended and I went on some dates. There were several people that were following up with me like, “Do you want to hang out again?” I remember just sitting there being like, “I don’t want to,” and how can I deliver this message to them? How can I reject them but do it with as much truth and accuracy and compassion as possible? Not to be disingenuous about it. I’m not trying to “soften the blow,” but I want to be honest. One person, I remember I sat in the car for like five minutes thinking about how can I authentically respond and not respond out of fear. I remember my mind going like, “How is she going to feel?” It was like if you just speak from your heart and be honest, that is the best way to do this.
In two instances of people I went on dates with, I got better at it each time. It’s this thing of like, “This is how I’m feeling about it. I’m not interested in exploring this a level deeper. I totally appreciate your time and your desire to connect.” The responses that got though were, “Thank you so much for your honesty.” I don’t know what’s going on inside of them the other end of the phone rather. Their response was gratitude. Like, “Thank you for just being so upfront and honest about this.” Practicing it, it’s almost like we’re more afraid of the possibility we might hurt someone when in reality, they might receive and go, “This dude was actually like straight up honest with me. Thank you for that.”
That type of rejection tends to feel very temporary for most people. It’s like you go out on a date and it usually does not feel good when someone rejects you and it also doesn’t feel good to reject someone else and it might feel awkward, it might feel uncomfortable. That’s the other thing is I think a lot of the times our fears around rejection is the fear of being uncomfortable. Because life is constantly changing and in a way it actually helps if you are putting yourself out there a lot because that means that when you get rejected from one thing, your focus is immediately going on another. I think one of the most detrimental things is if you only put yourself out there every once in a while and then when you get rejected you just like don’t do anything for a while. Now, you’re just obsessing and ruminating over that one rejection.
There’s a great TEDx Talk about how this one man went on a quest for a year to get rejected as many times as possible and it’s worth watching. He basically found that it got easier and easier the more he was rejected. Just like you’re saying, it’s easier the more you practice rejecting or turning down people in all sorts of different scenarios. I find it hard with business stuff too. I get approached about all sorts of business opportunities and a lot of them are not the right fit. Sometimes I ignore it, like an email. If someone follows up, usually that shows me they care enough and if it’s not the right fit, then I’ll give them a response.
Sometimes I’ll try to respond to everybody. I’ll try to be authentic. Actually, Tim Ferriss shared this. He did a book called Tribe of Mentors. He reached out to all of these other, all of these amazing entrepreneurs, successful people, and some of them turned them down for getting interviewed for the book or answering his questions. He actually shared one of the rejection letters that he got as an example of how to set your boundaries. How to very kindly and professionally turn down an opportunity. This is also so important because saying no is actually incredibly valuable for us. I feel like a lot of times in life, based on what you were saying, Jason, that we want to say yes to things because we don’t want to hurt somebody. We’re also often afraid of missing out and I’ve definitely gone through this a lot in my career. I want to just say yes to everything. It’s like the FOMO, the fear of missing out or the what-if scenario of like, “What if this is a good thing and I’m going to screw it up if I turn it down?”
This is a tricky one because in essence, we can weigh all the variables of anything. A person we meet, people we’re dating, business opportunities. To me, we can get stuck in our head weighing all the pros and cons. My brain is very analytical. I have a tendency to do this. I actually am very good at making pro and con lists. It’s one of my skillsets. Ultimately, we have to go with our gut with people. I think whether it’s business opportunities or dating people, because that’s where we’re floating in the space in this moment, contrast and experience are so valuable in developing our intuition.
I say this simply because I’ve been dating and meeting people a lot and to put yourself in different experiences when something rich and compelling and interesting does show up or someone, you feel it. You’re like, “this is different. This isn’t like all the other. Let me dive into this and that.” That can be, again, business or romance or whatever. I’m saying that because I’m in that mode right now exploring a new person and I’m doing it because there’s a substantive depth and wisdom and consciousness. There’s all of these layers to this person that I’m like, “This is different. I can feel it’s different. It’s interesting. I need to investigate this.”It's all an illusion when we think that there's only one path to have, be, and do the life we want. Click To Tweet
You wouldn’t know that it was different had you not had all those other experiences.
Had I not been rejected and had I not said kindly no to other people when I knew my gut was like, “No, this isn’t for you.”
Often saying no to something that’s not right is leaving room to say yes to something. Because we could say yes to something where we know it’s not right and that actually takes our attention away or it fills up all of our time or energy or whatever. It’s basically filling up our life so there’s no room for something even better to come in. I think there’s also this fear of what do I do in between the rejection while I’m waiting for the thing that I want to happen. When you think about this, we’re dating, you can get so lonely and discouraged and exhausted. It’s the same thing with business.
I actually think the bigger inspiration for this was us reflecting on all sorts of business-related rejection scenarios and that fear of I’ve been trying so hard and nothing I’m doing seems to be working. People aren’t saying yes to me or people are saying no to me. All of that. That’s very common when you’re running your own business, when you’re putting yourself out there a lot, when you’re very invested in something. It’s tough. It’s tough when you’re in those places where you’ve either been rejected outright or nobody’s taking you up on it. Those are both very similar feelings because sometimes when nobody is saying yes to you, it does feel like everybody is saying no.
When I think there’s something to be said for the quote, “Rejection is God’s protection.” When I receive that, I don’t perceive that phrase as I’m being protected from dangerous things. I think for me it means that if something doesn’t come to fruition in life or things don’t go the way I planned or I get rejected or things fall apart, whatever, it’s not meant for me. I don’t know what’s meant for me. I don’t know what life wants for me. I know what I want, but I don’t know what life wants. Often what I’m feeling lately, what I’m sinking into, is there’s a third force that I feel when I let go of control and I surrender more is almost guiding my life.
I don’t have to be the one with my hands white knuckling the steering wheel all the time. This idea of letting go, it’s this clichés thing we see coming up all the time in the conscious and wellness industries, this whole field we’re so passionate about. Truly, I’ve been listening to my gut, listening to this third force, spirit, God or soul, I don’t know what to call it. The name isn’t that important for me right now. I feel when life is steering me and I can let go a little bit more and trust, that things have a way of guiding me toward what wants to happen, what wants to be the people I’m meant to be with. I don’t have to be the one with my hands on the wheel all the time.
It’s like that Jesus Take the Wheel song.
The Incubus song, Drive, comes up for me, which is great. The lyrics are fantastic, “Whatever tomorrow brings, I’ll be there with open arms and open eyes.” There’s this lyric in the song where he talks about letting the fear take the wheel and steer and there’s letting go. There’s something about, if I trust that life loves me, God loves me, spirit loves me, whatever you believe in, then maybe we can start to let go a little bit more and trust that we’re being led to the opportunities in the people that are exactly meant for us. Even when it’s a desolate, even if we feel like we’re walking through the desert with no water, it’s like, “Where’s my oasis? Where’s my salvation?” That’s faith. Whether you’re a religious person or not, there’s something to be said about faith versus fear in this conversation.
Also, it has been my experience that when I feel like nothing’s working and I hit this point of like deep frustration or sadness or that heartbroken feeling that we were talking about here of, “I’m trying so much, I’m doing my best. I feel like I’m doing everything I’m supposed to be doing.” That’s something that I face a lot. I’m very strategic and I’m someone that I want to have a plan and be able to follow it. If I follow these steps, I’m going to get this result. When I follow steps and I don’t get a result, I get so discouraged because I feel helpless. I feel like I’m not in control. What I’ve noticed lately, including very recently, when I’ve hit those points, I just end up throwing up my arms and saying, “I’ve tried it all.” It’s the difference between giving up and surrendering.
For me, let’s say about business. There are many times where I’ll have so many strategies and the strategies aren’t working. I don’t know what’s going to work. What I have been able to notice about myself in those moments is that I’m not giving up on the business. I love the business. I’m committed to the business. I’m in it. It’s that I’m taking a step back and surrendering and letting go and letting be. In fact, Jason and I have a wonderful mutual friend and there was one day I called up this friend and expressed to her how I was feeling. Pretty much what I just said, which was like, “I feel like I’m trying all of these things and they’re not working.”
She listened and I wish I could remember her exact words, but she said, “Maybe you should just stop and let go.” She asked me had I done that and I said, “I’ve been meditating and I’ve been going to yoga and I’ve been doing all these spiritual practices in reading books.” I was trying to share with her all these examples of what to me felt like letting go and surrendering. She paused for a moment. She said, “Whitney, that sounds like you’re doing a lot of doing.” My version of not doing things was like being on my computer and working on my newsletter and working on social media and working on my courses. That stuff felt like work. All of the things I listed off, it didn’t feel like work because those are self-care, but self-care is also often self-work. Unless you’re sitting there in meditation and in the most relaxed version of meditation possible, you’re probably doing something and you’re not actually surrendering. Once she said that, I had this a-ha moment and I thought, “She’s right. I have not yet tried to completely stop doing.”
I found a massive sense of relief. It was as if my friend was just giving me permission by saying that I didn’t need to do all those things. I could just be or I could wake up in the morning. I could sit there and not feel like I had to immediately jump on my phone, my computer, go to yoga class or pick up a book or whatever. I could just sit there and let the day flow. As you’re saying, it’s like letting the day guide me however it just happens. I think that this is the other big important tip here is that trust and I wanted to bring this up too, is I’ve struggled a lot with trust and in surprising ways. Because I feel like for most of my life I am a very trusting person. I find it very easy to meet somebody and trust them, give them the benefit of the doubt but I don’t know how much I’ve trusted myself.
Over time I’ve started to notice how I don’t trust other people. Actually, I meant to say this earlier when you were talking about the difference between no and not yet. When I asked something of somebody and they say no to me, a lot of the times I’ll continue to ask them because I don’t trust that the no is the actual answer. I think for a lot of my life I thought, “I’m just very persistent and it’s just my way of getting my way.” I have realized probably that’s actually more of a trust issue because I’m not trusting that that person is clear on their answer of yes or no.
Now in terms of communication, I’ve had to be present and try not to judge or control somebody else’s answer or push their boundaries, which is something that I tend to do. I do this with Jason. Jason knows this about me. We get into our little bickering moments. We have a lot of brother, sister moments. Sometimes I’ll ask Jason something and he’ll say no. A lot of the times I don’t trust that he actually means no. I’m going to stay where right here that we can work on incorporating not yet into our conversations. I feel like a lot of the times when you say no to me it’s usually a not right now answer. It’s rare that you have like a solid firm, no.
If you were to ask me like do you want to go bungee jumping off the top of the Eiffel tower? That would probably be a hard, “Maybe not. Let me sit with that.” It’s very finite and that’s why I’m saying not right now or not yet is a more accurate response that I can definitely be more present too but is more honest with our communication. There are things that are like, “Do you want to go get a steak?” “No. Thank you.”
Let’s think big picture here. How do we know that we’re going to be vegan for the rest of our life? Even in that case, I know right now we feel like, “I’m never going to have a steak again,” but we have no clue.A lot of the times, our fears around rejection is just the fear of being uncomfortable. Click To Tweet
You realize that this tiny little interlude, people might extract this five second conversation of like, “Jason said, there was a possibility they might eat steak in the future.” We’re putting our flame suits on right now, fellow vegans. We love you, but don’t take this out of context.
The thing of if my belief more and more is that I have a very open mind. I see the world in much more gray than I do black and white. I know that nothing is certain. The only thing is I am certain that I’m vegan right now, but I have absolutely no clue. Many things could change over time. I think this is the same thing when I was talking about like marriage for instance. Again, speaking out of ignorance of never been married, it’s that, yes, you can agree and you can commit to somebody, but you’re not literally locked into that person because so many things could happen.
That person could make a decision that is greatly against your ethics, your morals, something that you deeply disagree with and you don’t want to be with them anymore. That person could pass away. That person could decide they didn’t want to be with you anymore. You might feel in this moment of getting married or being married that you’ll spend the rest of your life with this person. That might be your intention, but that doesn’t guarantee anything. Nothing is guaranteed. That’s what I’m trying to say about the vegan thing.
One example is, yes, in this moment I intend to be vegan for the foreseeable future, but I have no idea if something that I couldn’t possibly see coming happens. A perfect example is all these developments with like lab grown meats and stuff like that. That is a whole other rabbit hole I’m not trying to get into. I don’t know what’s going to happen. That’s probably one of the biggest points that I’m making here is that we do not have control. We are not in the future. We’re in the present moment. Anything can happen at any time. That anything could be perceived as good or bad, valuable or invaluable. That’s part of the ease and being able to let go more is say, “Yes, this is my intention. This is my desire, this is my current commitment.” I also have to simultaneously know that I’m not even guaranteed another breath.
No, we have absolutely no idea what is coming for us. What is waiting for us, what we have no idea what ought to be. We don’t know what life wants for us. We talk about in high-performance wellness and the things we’re passionate about. One of the big things is like asking clear, high-quality questions. What I’ve begun to shift in terms of how I talk to myself because I talked to myself all the time. At home, I will just like literally talk to myself out loud. One of the shifts that I’ve noticed within myself is instead of asking myself like, “What do I want? What does life want?” I don’t know what life wants, but if I shift myself into that idea of life wanting something that I don’t know yet that I don’t where I’m being guided. The great question that I asked myself is what wants to happen right now? Not what do I want. What is happening? In a lot of moments, the reason I asked that question is because if I say, “What do I want?” The ego, the selfish I, if you will. The id, the idea of who I am is like, I want to run from this uncomfortable situation.
I want to like say, “Go home, get a pint of Ben and Jerry’s banana fosters vegan ice cream and watch all of the episodes of Game of Thrones before the final season.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but if there is a situation that I can perceive as life wants me to engage in this uncomfortable situation and create peace, life wants me to sit here and find compassion in this moment. Life wants me to be here and be present with this loved one even though I have other commitments. I do want to be at home watching Game of Thrones with a pint of ice cream. When I’m saying from a perspective of moving from the selfish, ego-based desire into what is life asking of me to create more love and compassion understanding on this planet, often what life wants is for me to sit in uncomfortable situations. Do my best to spread love and understanding or my brain is like, “Just go home.”
If you’re choosing not to be uncomfortable right now by some form of escapism, whatever you want to choose to try to escape, you’re just delaying the inevitable.
Which is that life is going to give me another opportunity to grow. Life is going to give me another opportunity to find middle ground and compassion and understanding this person. Even if I run from this thing and choose to go home and do whatever my selfish brain is telling me to do, it’s not like I’m running from responsibility or the opportunity to grow. Because years ago when I was in a session with an Ayurvedic healer. This was when I had my catering business. You and I hadn’t met yet. I was stressed as hell. You’ve seen me stressed.
This was one of those moments where I was like I’m at my breaking point. I went to go see this Ayurvedic healing practitioner and we were just talking about life. We were talking about the body, we’re talking about healing, but we were just talking about living in our path. She said, “You checked the growth box on the way in here.” She’s like, “You didn’t choose to come in here and like be a Hilton or be a Kardashian. You chose to come and you checked the growth box. Your soul is choosing life situations to help you grow and expand and evolve this entire lifetime and probably every lifetime.”
It’s like co-creation. It’s like, yes, you’re making a choice but you’re curating or creating. I guess it’s both. You’re your co-creating your life along with whatever higher force you believe in. I think that’s part of it too, when you can realize that you don’t have to do it all alone. You’re not doing it all alone. The more you can surrender, the more you give opportunity for support. It gives you opportunities to get clear on what you want. I’m truly such a big believer in that what is meant for you will not miss you. Yes, you could say yes to something and it might not feel right, but maybe you needed to say yes to it to realize it didn’t feel right.
With all these choices, we can get in our heads, it’s like with the fear of missing out. It’s because you decide not to do something who says you’re missing out on it? Because if it’s meant for you, there’s no way to miss out on it. It’ll just happen in another form or at another time. We see this so many times in life where you have these almost moments. Whether it’s like a relationship, it’s like, “That relationship. I felt like that person could have been the one,” but they weren’t. Maybe they were the one at that time, but not somebody that you’re going to spend the next 10, 20, whatever years with. It’s the same thing with business. I think sometimes people get so in their heads with competition.
If you believe that there’s room for everybody, which I believe there is, then you can see somebody else succeed, that doesn’t mean that you won’t succeed. It’s that’s person’s time. Your time will come and it may be in a different form and it might be very similar. It might be incredibly different. It might feel more important to you. We all are often getting so in our heads out of fear that we’re not going to get what we want. That’s ultimately what it is. It’s like I’m not going to get the love that I want. I’m not going to get the approval. The validation. Actually, all of this is about love, ultimately. I’m not going to be able to do what I want in life.
I’m not going to be able to love my life and appreciate. It’s like if you start to break it down, it’s just so simple. I think most of us just want to be at peace and want to feel happy. Love is tied in so many different forms. We have this deep desire to be loved by other people. It is painful when we don’t feel loved, but we have to step back and think, is that the truth of what’s happening here? Is that person saying that they don’t love us? If they are saying it, how much does it even matter? Coming back to your initial comment on all of this, Jason, as you said, one of the deepest pains of rejection for you is feeling unrequited love, unreciprocated.
The more that I’ve started to dive deep into different spiritual perspectives on love, one of the most common things that is explained is that love is within you. It’s not about whether or not that other person gives it back to you. If you look at your life, your career, your business, your profession, your passion, why does it matter if somebody doesn’t love what you’re doing or see your value? Isn’t it up to you to just love it and express it? We talked about this in the episode about expression too. Why would you stop doing something that you love just because somebody else didn’t love it in the way that you wanted them to?
It’s not love when there are conditions. There’s something conditional about that. This is very present in the goals we have. It’s not enough for me to write a book that I’ve put my heart and my soul into. It’s got to be a New York Times bestseller. It’s very conditional. I’m only going to write a book if it’s a bestseller. I’m only going to produce a TV show if it wins an Emmy, it’s a hit or it makes me $1 million. We have a former friend an acquaintance who at one point years ago was making through his art and his business like $250,000. It’s like, “Congratulations. That’s incredible.” He’s like, “No, if I don’t make a million in this year, I’m done.” It’s like you travel all over the world doing what you say you love, but $250,000 isn’t enough. You need to make $1 million or you’re quitting this. Are you doing this because you love it or are you doing it because there’s an expectation of some reward on the other end of it,” and that’s conditional. That’s not actually love.
Maybe they just love money more than they love the route to money. That’s the other thing too is you can actually start to dissect your reactions to rejection. Maybe if you’re doing something, let’s say you’re a performer and you want to be successful. You want to be well-known. When somebody rejects you, is it that they’re rejecting your hurt because they don’t like what you’re performing or are you hurt because you’re so attached to people’s approval? Maybe performing is the way that you get approval. It’s like with this friend. Maybe this person wants money, which is probably more about security or masculinity or whatever. There’s another level there too. The art form is just the pathway. That’s why that reaction there. I don’t even think that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s that maybe it’s making it clear that they just need to find another way to that path because it has nothing to do with it.Often, saying no to something that's not right is leaving room to saying yes to something. Click To Tweet
Sometimes this is the tough thing for me as a content creator on YouTube, social media and now the podcast and all of these different forms of media that I create on my own or with Jason or other people. If you don’t feel like it’s being received, sometimes it can feel like is what I’m doing not good? Is there something wrong? Do I need to change it? This is something that I’ve struggled with so much. Especially after being on YouTube for ten years and creating over 1,000 videos over time, I’ve never been able to predict what is going to do well. I’ve tried so many strategies and a lot of the times the strategies don’t move the needle. I found myself feeling most of the time so unsure of myself.
What I’ve been working on recently is embracing that and saying, “I could look at it this way,” which is I never know when everything’s going to work. I don’t even feel motivated because I’m afraid that I’m going to have another disappointment. It’s not going to get the results I want. I could say, “I don’t know what’s going to work. I’m going to keep trying all sorts of things. I’m going to see what works and be unattached to what does and doesn’t and know that I might not even be able to replicate the things that work. There’s a big mindset and the social media and video world of these viral videos. Everyone’s like trying to make them and figure out the formula for what’s viral. Something that’s viral is often very hard to define or predict.
It’s impossible to replicate. I saw this video from England. Apparently there was an a video shoot going on and some woman accidentally walked into frame in front of a car and then realized she was walking into a shoot. She did this trick where it was almost like a trapdoor opened and she vanished out of frame instantly. Random from somewhere in the UK, some new station in the UK and it’s blown up. You can’t predict that. You can’t formulate that. It’s life happening. That’s part of the letting go of control. We want formulas, we want direction and we want strategies. Yes, those are valuable often in business, but when we’re talking about the spontaneous magic and improvisation of life, you can’t formulate that. It’s the isness of existence. I think so often a lot of these videos or this content we’re talking about, some of it’s planned and scripted and their skits and stuff, but a lot of it’s not. A lot of it, it’s the random moments of life.
Look at something like Saturday Night Live, which has been on air for 40 years. Every single weekend they’re putting on maybe twenty skits a night or something. A lot of them are not funny, but every once in a while there’s something that’s remarkably hilarious. It’s shared around and all of that. These are people that have been doing this for a very long time. They are professionals. They are constantly putting themselves out there and they have no idea if it’s going to work or not. They keep showing up weekend after weekend and spending the entire week prepping for something and they have no idea if it will do well or not. It’s actually pretty remarkable.
On this note, I was in the shower and I was thinking about Prince. I love Prince. He’s one of my favorite artists. The talent and the charisma and the songwriting of this man. I started actually going back and like I did with Queen last year, listening to every successive album in the artist’s history and trying to make my way through their entire album history. Both Queen and Prince, dozens and dozens of albums. It takes a while. We, we all know the hits. We know like our favorite artists, the hits. If you listen to an actual album, the ratio of the hits to songs that are like, “That’s an okay song.”
We don’t pay attention to a lot of these albums where you’re like, “That song is just okay.” It’s not about their talent as a musician. It’s just that song doesn’t make me feel anything. It’s mediocre. They’ll hit one and you’re like, “That’s my jam.” We go back to rejection, this insane idea sometimes that everything we do has to be like, “We crapped out a golden nugget.” That’s insane because no one, not even our heroes operate on that level of mastery. They don’t. We’re like, “They’ve mastered it.” I guess, but that’s assuming that like everything they do is touching gold. It’s not true for anyone ever.
How is that even pleasurable? That’s the other funny thing about being human is that we strive for this perfection. We’ve weaved this weird obsession with getting things right and getting things perfect. We all know how when you were talking about magic. Magic wouldn’t exist if it was happening all the time. It wouldn’t be the magic anymore. The part of the definition in my head of what magic is, is it’s special, it’s unique, it’s rare. That’s why it feels so good. It’s true with anything. Even if you look at food, you know when like you try it, the very first bite is incredible. When you keep eating it, the pleasure starts to wear down. A great example of this in my head is years ago, Jason and I go to this natural products trade show and in 2017, oat milk by Oatly was out. I think they were like the only brand doing it for a short time.
I was over the moon over this. I thought it was the best oat milk in the world and I was just so excited anytime I could have Oatly. Over time, baristas were using it in coffee shops and I would just think, “Can you believe it? There’s Oatly here.” I would see oat milk on the menu and feel so thrilled about it. In the past six months to a year, in 2019, oat milk is actually very common and there are tons of companies that are making it. It’s funny, I look back and think, “I miss the days when I never knew when I was going to have oat milk.” I miss feeling disappointed going to a cafe and not seeing it there because that was the contrast to the times where I would go to a coffee shop and see Oatly on the menu and feel so fortunate.Love is within you. It's not about whether or not another person gives it back to you. Click To Tweet
We need that contrast of disappointment. We need the contrast of rejection. How else could we appreciate the things that are amazing? They literally won’t even be amazing if they happened all the time. They become the norm. Even going back to your artist friend or acquaintance that you mentioned, perhaps he got to a point in his career where his success was no longer thrilling to him. He needed to go to the next level. We see this so much with very well-known people and celebrities. A lot of them get into drugs or some of them even take their own lives. Maybe they don’t feel like there’s anything more for them to experience or another level to get to. Maybe it feels pretty awful to be at the pinnacle of success and realize there’s a very slim chance that I’m going to get anything better than what I have now. What if it’s all downhill for me now?
I guess a great way to start to end this is to find that gratitude for the rejection. What if we started to look at that as you were saying, Jason, as information and as contrast, but also something to be grateful for because it just makes everything else much sweeter. Rejection is a sign that it can only get better from here. Rejection is a sign that there’s something else around the corner. If we can lean into that insecurity and that discomfort of those periods of time, where we just don’t know when the thing we want is going to happen, it becomes easier. It doesn’t become easy, but it becomes easier.
I want to share a quick story about how not knowing what life wants for us and how to take rejection and turn it into gratitude and choosing to love the life we’ve got for ourselves. There’s a story about a little band called The Beatles. The Beatles, when they started out playing in The Cavern Club and playing in Germany, nobody knew about this bar band. The handsomest member of this band was the drummer. His name was Pete Best. You had John Lennon, you had Paul McCartney on bass, you had George Harrison, but the original drummer for The Beatles was Pete Best. The dude looked like Elvis meets young Marlon Brando. He was just like had Hollywood movie star looks. Pete best was the dude in The Beatles.
They start to blow up, they sign up their record deal, but I think it was with Capitol Records. Right before they start recording their first album, they all decide to kick Pete Best out of the band. They replace him with Ringo Starr. There was this thing apparently about Pete Best being the dude. He was the heartthrob, he was the swooning guy. Stories say like he offset the energetic balance of the band. They kick him out. This is before Beatlemania. The biggest band ever blew up. Understandably, he fell into years of depression and thought about taking his own life. You just got kicked out of what would become the biggest band in the history of the world.
On the other side of that, he fell in love and he met his wife. He started a family and he eventually made his way back to music. He formed a new band and had this family life and was still doing his art. Years later, I think this was in the ‘80s or the ‘90s. They interviewed Pete Best about it and he talked about his journey to realize that he had defined that life had other plans for him. He was so in love with his wife and he had this beautiful family who was making music with his kids, I believe the story goes. He had found peace and he had found joyfulness because he chose it. He didn’t allow getting kicked out of what was to be the biggest rock band in the history of the world to destroy him and it almost did. He realized that life had something else for him and he surrendered to it. He chose to find the beauty in it and chose to accept the life that he had.
Talk about healing. Talk about surrendering to what life wants for you, there is so much grace in that story. It was a beautiful thing to read and he had a choice. He could’ve let that literally destroy him, but he didn’t. He surrendered and he let go of the wheel and life steered him in a different direction. I think when we get rejected, even if it can feel like something as crushing as that, we’ve literally feel like life has robbed us of the greatest opportunity we could even imagine. There’s something else waiting for you, you just don’t know what it is yet. We want to encourage you to let go a little bit more, surrender a little bit more right now. Trust that life has something wonderful you don’t even know waiting for you yet. You got to stick around, have a little faith and keep putting one foot in front of the other. You’re going to be led to exactly where you need to be.
It’s so wonderful to be able to talk about these things. Doing this is actually very healing for me. It’s very therapeutic. We don’t have all the answers. I was feeling discouraged and not my best and now it’s a new day. I can also speak from very recent experiences of I don’t know if it was rejection. I think it was actually. Rejection is such a common feeling and a common experience for us and interpretation too. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve interpreted something as rejection and then realize later that’s not what it was. That was my fear. That was my interpretation and my story. Know that we are going through all this right alongside you.
We are learning these lessons together and we’re sharing our thoughts in this moment and we are so grateful to have you part of our lives and to feel a sense of community and connection together. Speaking of which, we would love to hear from you. We are available to chat any time on social media, find us, Wellevatr or you can find our individual work under Jason Wrobel or Whitney Lauritsen. It’s very easy to find us. You can go to the website, you can find our email address and privately message us. We’d love reviews from you and any feedback that you have on these, anything you’d like to see. Tell us what you love and we want to find as many ways to be part of your life as possible. Thank you so much and we will see you on the next episode!
- Tribe of Mentors
- What I Learned From 100 Days of Rejection – TEDx
- Oatly Oat Milk
- Jason Wrobel
- Whitney’s YouTube Channel
- Whitney Lauritsen