She made cookies and was involved in planning the parties at work and making suggestions for bridal and baby showers. She posted messages to others online wanting to give them hope and encourage them in their daily lives. She left work, the gym and watched online as others posted pictures of events that she’d never heard about.
He tried to be involved in what others were doing, whether it was raising money, helping with event planning, just being encouraging to others, and such. As others made plans, whether at work, the gym or online, he waited for invitations, that never came.
They tried, they really tried to be a part of their social circles, but were left behind without a thought. In fact, there were rumblings about how they were kind of annoying others, but no one said it to them openly. These two people, who are not unlike so many in the world, were seen as a problem or inconvenience to others, but all they really wanted was to be included. Instead, these people go home, go out and spend the majority of their time excluded and alone.
The Deadly Struggle That Hurts Everyone
When we think of deadly struggles we imagine the battles in movies where the hero and villain are battling at the top of a mountain or cable car thousands of feet in the air, trying to throw the other off and to their deaths. We imagine the struggle of sports teams trying to stop the other from scoring the winning goal, touchdown or run. We think about the epic battles in movies like the “Star Wars” series, Gladiator, 300 or any number of other struggles filled with sweat, blood, death, loss and gritty, dirty scenes.
It’s natural to think of these, but there’s a silent and just as deadly struggle that everyone struggle with every day. What is this silent enemy?
It’s the struggle with chasing others to like us.
Everyone wants to be liked and accepted and “one of the gang”. Unfortunately, if you go back to your early elementary years you will recall a particular group or groups; you known, the guys or girls that you didn’t fit in with. You could dress like them, take on their vocabulary, like the music they like, watch the shows, movies or go to the places they went. You changed your hair style to be like them, yet, through it all they want nothing to do with you. They might put up with you being around for a time, but if you’d noticed they gave off plenty of passive-aggressive signals that they didn’t want to be around you.
Need some examples?
- Parties or get-togethers and you’re not invited
- Comments about you, your dress or other things that aren’t complimentary
- You go unnoticed physically or verbally. You receive little or no response to your comments, even if they are positive or agreeable to the discussion.
- Your invitations to get together or plan something are met with excuses about being busy, “but maybe next time”.
- Your efforts to greet, affirm or engage with others are met with limited or little response.
- You see social media filled with pictures of these folks engaging with each other, and many times around the time you invited them to socialize.
These are just a few of the signs or should I say kicks to your “obvious button”, but most of the time instead of seeing the reality, we’re driven to try harder to get them to “like us”.
The Lesson To Change Your Life for Good
The cold, hard lesson in this is that there are those you will connect with and those who you won’t. The ones you connect with are the ones you should engage with and spend time with. Put another way, “be with those who want to be with you, since it’s crazy to want to be with those who don’t want to be with you!” Perhaps you’ll want to re-read that last sentence again a few times, since it will change your entire view of relationships, including healthy and unhealthy ones.
In fact, let me re-write it here in bold letters, so you can fully see it!
“Why would you want to be with those, who don’t want to be with you?” ~ Jonathan L. Cragle
When I learned this lesson and started applying it, my world changed. I wasn’t constantly judging or picking at or tempted to “spy” on those who didn’t want to be with or around me. I simply moved on and spent my time and energy with those who did want to be around me. Of course there has always been plenty of times that I spent time alone and yet instead of being sad about it, I turned my attention to working on my priorities.
When you first begin this change of not chasing people you’ll be around a lot less people to begin with and that can be disconcerting and even scary. You might be tempted to think that it’s better to be around people who don’t want you around, rather than be by yourself. This is a lie, since after some time though I came to the realization that while the number of people I spent time with was far, far less, the interactions were better. In essence it’s the age-old “quality over quantity”.
It’s important to note that I’m not judging the previous group as “inferior quality”, rather they just weren’t the right people, perhaps at the right time, for me. In fact, let me clarify that allowing yourself to “judge” others, especially those who you feel rejected from will only result in further judgements, angry and the desire for some vindication. It’s an endless, vicious circle and so JUST DON’T DO IT!
Just understand that when you move away from the big group that doesn’t want to be around you that you might spend time alone or with just a few people. DON’T LET THAT SCARE YOU! In time you find those who are attracted to and want to be around you, flaws and all. The result of the moving on for me has been better, deeper and more meaningful friendships, less stress from the constant rejection and a happier outlook every day. The same can happen for you too!
Move On, No Vindication Required
Now, you might say that you can easily move on from those who don’t want to be around you and perhaps you can. The key though, is can you move on with first needing to be vindicated or leave with the “you’ll be sorry” or “you’re missing out” or the hundreds of ways we try to save face or make others sorry?
I can honestly say that when I first started down this path I wanted so desperately to leave with the final word. I wanted to make these people consider their loss of not knowing me. I wanted them to feel sorry for their rejection of me. The stark reality is that the person or group of people who you move on from most likely won’t hear or even care that you’re going. In fact, in twisted way they will be that they’ve won and are better off now that you’re gone.
Ouch, that’s like a kick to the privates or in the solar plexus. It can take the air right out of us and we want to curl up into a ball and just scream away the raw rejection. Reality is like that, but with that knowledge we can move forward in healthier ways that are good for our self-confidence and self-esteem.
Let me repeat again in case you skimmed past it that the first reaction of most people, including myself at times in my life, was the desire to make the people sorry for rejecting me. I wanted to make them see how much they were missing. I wanted them to regret their decision to ignore me. There were times that I’ve regretted years later, where I wrote or said some hurtful things to those who rejected me.
I learned a number of lessons of reality and wisdom from those times of rejection. First, any vindication you think you’ll get rarely happens and in fact the rejection can be even more fierce and vicious. Second, any vindictive behavior on your part will not “feel good” or make you “feel better. Far from it, rather you’ll still feel the raw rejection and hurt.
Full Steam Ahead for Your Life
Okay, so if vindication or “getting back” are the wrong goals then how do we move forward and away from these people in a healthy way?
First, take ownership & responsibility for having “your choice” and “living your life”. We give away ourselves in negative ways when we chase after others and leave ourselves behind in the efforts. Seek to live to serve others, but not at the expense of leaving behind who you are and whom you’re becoming. Don’t waste the time and talents you’ve got on people that don’t want to be around you and are frankly bad for your soul. Take ownership of letting them go!
Second, leave behind any of your negative thoughts or feelings about these people who have rejected you. This might be one of the most difficult things you will ever have to do, but the rewards far outweigh the cost or the negative feelings you leave behind. You see, the negative feelings hurt you and most of the time the people who rejected or are rejecting you will never feel any sadness or regret about how they’re treating you. Negative emotions only affect you, so quit abusing yourself with these destructive and debilitating thoughts.
Third, so often we accumulate people who we want to like us much like receiving those sweepstakes ads in the mail. Many times we hold onto those ads, just in case we might win. In the same way we continue to hold these dreams of certain people wanting to be around us or spend time with us. Just like the ads create piles of trash in our houses, the dreams of what “might happen” clog up our minds & hearts. Soon our lives become less manageable and the trash actually prevents us from having room for quality friends and interactions. Go through your mind and heart and remove the “one day they’ll like me” thoughts and while you’re at it, why not toss those sweepstakes ads too!
Fourth, seek those people who we connect with and that connect with us. The people who there is a natural and healthy care for one another. Take a moment to think about those people who you have this connection with right now. It should be obvious those who you have this connection with and those who you don’t. In fact, I believe that these people come to mind quickly and without much effort. This number of people might be just one or a few, but that’s okay to begin with. Further, I believe we know those who we’re chasing, as they come up quite quickly too. Nurture the former and move on from the latter.
Better to be alone or with a few good friends than in a kingdom of those indifferent of you.
Fifth and finally, show love and care to all people, even those who have hurt or rejected you. To begin with this might require being apart from them, but even then don’t fertilize the negative thoughts or judgements. If you pray, then pray for them or just simply wish them no harm. When we stop cultivating the negative, chasing AND vindictiveness in our hearts and minds, we are well on our way to living a healthy life.
Letting Go of Expectations & Being Free
One the most difficult parts of this process is having the courage to make this break, with no guarantees that you won’t be alone for a while. It’s this courage though that frees you, since your chasing others hasn’t resulted in being included anyway and has led to sadness, depression, anger or any number of other negative emotions. So really isn’t it better to be alone and free, rather than chasing others and being in bondage?
When we let go of expectations of others, we provide ourselves the freedom to live and be who we fully are. We’re free to express ourselves, work on our priorities and we aren’t held in the chains of exclusion. If we don’t break away then the results are depression, even more loss of self-confidence and esteem and worse, the desire to act negatively and perhaps want to retaliate emotionally, physically or any other way against those who have excluded us.
As you grow comfortable in working on your priorities and transfer the energy you wasted on chasing others, into working on your skills, abilities and ways of giving to others in need the better your quality of life and feeling will be. Some ideas for helping others include, soup kitchens, Boys & Girls Clubs, nursing home visits, and more. If you need ideas then go online to Volunteer Match, enter your location and browse the opportunities.
You have talents and by using this for good you will actually attract like-minded people and through your service you won’t have to chase people. In fact, people will want to spend time with you, because they want to and not because you chased them. As we approach Christmas this year please seek out ways you can reach out to those in need, including the homeless or less fortunate. Give and you will receive.
This chapter might have offended you or perhaps it made you think, “oh I can’t believe people would do this to others” and you felt like it doesn’t apply to you. The fact is that exclusion, and loneliness are major issues and are the biggest causes of hurt feelings, desperation, anger, vindictiveness and might result in more therapy than most other maladies. This information needs to be said openly and if it offends you then tough. We’ve all been in the position of chasing after a person or group and failing. We’ve also been in the position of having a person seek to be included with us or the group we’re in and we’ve ignored them or hoped they would go away. It’s sad and frankly our actions are sadder still. We need to do better as people and human beings. Imagine how it would be if we took our selfish, self-serving attitude of having “our group” and are instead inviting to all those who come into our presence. Yes, that would be a more peaceful world indeed.
P.S. If you are offended, then congratulations because at least you feel something. The ones who feel nothing after reading this are the ones that I feel most sad for, since indifference is a cancer that creates much of the struggles in the world.
Please feel free to comment below your thoughts and experiences. You can also connect with me at my Facebook page (please “Like” if you would) and thanks for taking the time to read this.