Last season’s The Bachelor, took a new twist as Ben professed his love to not one but two women. As seasoned viewers knew, “I love you” signaled the final choice. But what happened was that one of the women who heard the words learned that she was not the Bachelor’s true love.
The “loser” of this romantic duo, JoJo, returns this season as the Bachelorette. Now we watch as JoJo searches for love. And, in the process, she too will discard contestants.
Last season, we witnessed the personal devastation of being rejected. In the reunion episode, contestants displayed obsessive jealousy, fixated loathing, desire, and matchless arrogance. And, this season, we watch as JoJo weeds out men.
As viewers, we discounted the powerful and negative feelings of the discarded contestants. Perhaps we blamed them for their situations as a result of agreeing to be on this reality show. They joined the cast of competition, after all.
But, there are times in each of our lives we each experience rejection.
Situations emerge when someone else has the final say over something we wholeheartedly want. It may be a romantic relationship, a job change, college acceptance, or an audition. Our reactions to adversity is an important part of our well-being.
Now, the Bachelorette, JoJo, is asking directly about the men’s past relationships. She wants mainly to know how they managed their breakups. And, her query has already revealed a few men who haven’t talked to anyone about their separations. So, why is this important?
We know from parent-infant attachment research that we bring with us our past relationships. Talking about our early relationships, with our parents or previous romantic partners, tells a lot about us. Our stories share our perspective about how we trust others. They reveal how well we understand our inner life. And, a balanced description of the positive and negatives, even when not ideal, shows a sense of security.
From this perspective, JoJo is looking for someone who brings confidence and trust in relationships. Someone who can speak with understanding about the choices made, the difficulties faced and the path of recovery. It is a feeling of confidence in relationships, “Other people are there for me. And, I am there for them.”
If someone has ignored his inner experience or become obsessive about the negative, he may not trust others. Overwhelming anger or blaming the other may reveal. Or, rejection surfaces deep feelings of inadequacy, as with last season’s contestant, Jubilee. When rejected, she told her personal story, “I must be the most unlovable person on earth.”
So, how can we approach rejection as a healthy part of our well-being?
- Acknowledge the impact your earliest relationships – with your parents. Think about how this relationship informed you about you. How did it contribute or take away from your trust in yourself and confidence in others?
- Have a conversation about your experiences, good and bad, with someone you trust. Just ask them to listen, to witness your experience without judging or fixing.
- Envision, an adult from your past who believed in you and loved you without condition. It may be your parent, teacher, neighbor, counselor – someone who brought feelings of love, laughter and lightened your heart. Imagine having a conversation with this person. What would he or she say to you about rejection?
- If you are a parent, be aware of what is required to develop secure and trusting relationships with your children. Explore your emotional readiness in parenting.
- Join a meditation group and practice breathing. Through meditation, we may find love, kindness, and compassion. Make room for your emotional experiences.
When we can create space to be with emotion as it occurs, we are better prepared to meet the triumphs and tribulations of life as they happen. All too often we expect ourselves to “get over it,” forcing ourselves to move away from the emotion, rather than making room for it. So the next time you face rejection, be kind and patient with yourself.
Be emotionally ready,
Dr. Terrie Rose