I don’t care how powerful, rich, gorgeous, intelligent and/or whole-hearted you are.

You’ve felt it. That sharp edge of rejection, the one that cuts deep into your soft underbelly.

He’s a What?!

So who would go looking for rejection? Jia Jiang, originally from Bejing, for one. I recently heard him speak, and I’m telling you, he brought the house down as he shared tales of his love story with rejection.

In the video of that presentation, Jiang says he was “shiny on the outside, so raw on the inside” because he had rejected himself and his dreams. As an experiment, he made a conscious decision to cultivate, even embrace rejection.

Jiang designed an astonishing creative project focused on his own fear of rejection. He set up 100 ridiculous requests that guaranteed he’d be rejected by others. Crazy things like walking up to a police officer sitting in his squad car and asking to drive it. (This from a guy whose heavily accented English isn’t always easy to understand.)

One of his big take-aways? He’s a liar.

It’s Crippling You

Let’s take a look at some of Jiang’s experiences using a mindful awareness practice paradigm.

  1. “We lie to ourselves every day,” according to Jiang. The lie? You tell yourself you don’t want it, whatever it is. Mindfulness helps you hear those quiet interior whispers of your own truth. Not your mother’s. Not what your best friend, spouse, and/or culture believes is true. A mindful awareness practice can lead to freedom from the crippling lies we tell ourselves.
  2. Early adopters – this one’s for you. “We often reject ourselves just so others won’t do it.” Reject yourself first, and no one else can. How many choices do you make every day, without knowing it, to reject yourself? Guess what helps? Mindful awareness.
  3. If you’re not asking for what you need or want because you’re afraid, you’re being held hostage. As Jiang says, “Just ask. You have to just ask.” Why don’t you ask? Because you’re afraid. The question is, how much longer are you willing to let your fears hold you hostage?
  4. One of the first tenets of mindfulness is to learn to be an objective observer of your emotional landscape. The misperception is that this can happen only through a formal sitting meditation practice. But there are lots of other ways to get home. Jiang accomplished it through his mindful study of real-life experiences, which he carefully observed for underlying meanings and connections.
  5. Some meditation practices encourage cultivating a discipline of embracing your dark underbelly. In Jungian terms, it’s your shadow. When it shows up at your front door, invite it in, make a pot of tea, and sit together for a while, as Jiang did in his exploration of rejection.
  6. What is rejection? “[It’s] an opinion, nothing more, nothing less.” And yet, we usually interpret it as objective truth, no matter what idiot is pronouncing that truth. What is true? What is real? Your breath, this moment, the next inhalation … nothing else. Develop your mindfulness chops, lean into each moment, change the world.
  7. Krispy Kreme and Mindfulness What to say? Jia Jiang’s intentional rejection project involved some Krispy Kreme donuts and a huge-hearted employee. Sometimes when you ask, you get so much more than your original request. Sometimes you are offered the whole world in a donut. Use your mindfulness skills. Then fasten your seat belts.

And You’re Waiting for What?

There’s room for everyone in mindful awareness. As Spanish poet Antonio Machado wrote, “There is no path. You make the path by walking.” All you need to do is begin walking.

Start paying gentle attention to yourself. Perhaps your truth will be found in rejection. At Krispy Kreme. Writing. Working with the right coach. (That would be me.)

Make your way into yourself, and back out into the whole wide world.

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