Now that we’ve talked about growing your own way, making the most of yourself, and learning and growing little by little, I want to talk about self-rejection. 

Self-rejection, not to be confused with self-reflection, is something we do, sometimes without even noticing it. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I started to learn what self-rejection is without actually having a term for it. Even once I started to learn, I didn’t apply it to my whole life. I only focused on it for my career. I didn’t even have the capacity to understand that it was something that I did in most of my life.

I’ve been through five layoffs in the almost eight years I have been in the SLC area. Five!! The first few destroyed me and my confidence. After the first four, I applied for any job that I knew I could do and would hopefully get. I didn’t consider that I could level up. Until my last layoff. At some point between my fourth and my fifth layoff, I learned of the advice to apply not only for the jobs that you feel you are currently qualified for, but also for the job that you want. No, that doesn’t mean apply for a CEO position when I’ve never been near that kind of role. It just means that when I was a project manager, apply for the senior project manager level as well. I did. And it worked.

It only worked because I knew without a doubt that I could do the role. And even if there were some aspects of the role I wasn’t confident in, I knew I could grow into it.

Self-rejection in my career is telling myself that I cannot do a role because I’ve never done it before or because I don’t think I’m good enough. I’ve done it many times over the years and it wasn’t until I actually tried applying for the role I wanted that I realized that I’ve been holding myself back.

We don’t only self-reject in our career though. If we self-reject in one area, we tend to do it in many other areas of our lives. Before we dive into how we self-reject, let’s talk about what it really is.

I believe self-rejection is a function of our inner critic, of our ego. Our inner critic tells us so many things in an effort to protect us, but in our world today, our inner critic may primarily hold us back. I’ve had to do a lot of work with my inner critic over the years and at this point, we are only on slightly better terms than we used to be. Our inner critic tells us what not to do because it doesn’t want us to get hurt. 

A lot of us self-reject without realizing that we are. We might mistake self-rejection for self-criticism. They are very similar and for me, most of the time they come together. But they aren’t the same thing. When we criticize ourselves, we tell ourselves how we are doing something wrong. When we self-reject, we tell ourselves why we can’t do a specific something. 

A few of the ways we self-reject are:

  1. Simply judging ourself
  2. Not starting a task, project, or hobby because we don’t think we’ll be good at it
  3. Only doing our career or hobby at a muted level because we don’t believe our work or creativity is good enough for higher levels
  4. When we talk about our contributions or our creations, we minimize our output or our quality
  5. We minimize or tell ourselves that our aspirations are not as important as so-and-so’s
  6. We change who we are to fit what we think somebody else’s idea is of us
  7. And for those of us who write or create anything, we say it isn’t ready or isn’t good enough so we don’t produce anything at scale

So how do we stop self-rejecting? We start by acknowledging that we are doing it. We cannot improve or work on anything if we don’t acknowledge that it is an impact on our life. Once we acknowledge it, we can start to work on it. 

How do we work on it? Um, you might not want to hear this, but we work on each way that we self-reject little by little. One at a time, situation by situation. You start by asking questions. Ask yourself why you judge yourself. Why do you feel you won’t be good at that thing you want to do? Why do you think you won’t excel at a higher level? Why do you minimize your contributions or creations? What is it about what you do that you feel you aren’t good enough? Why do you feel your aspirations aren’t important enough? Why don’t you think your work is good enough?

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself those questions? I can tell you that before I started identifying when I self-reject, I never considered why I did it. It took me asking myself questions over and over to understand what my triggers were. It took me asking more and more and more questions to get to the root of why I self-reject. 

Even with all of the work I put towards overcoming my self-rejection, I keep finding new areas or situations that I need to address. One of the most recent situations I’ve been working on is my ability to be an effective and valued leader. This is my first managerial role and I have aspirations of the leader that I want to be. When I first started, I was overwhelmed and my manager changed at the same time. I had too much on my plate and felt like I was underwater. I already made decisions and communicated in ways that I wish I hadn’t. I know I can be a better leader and didn’t start off the way I wish I wanted to. I started to tell myself that I can’t do it. It’s too late. I already fucked up and made the impression that I’m going to be a shitty leader. 

No. I didn’t fuck up and no I won’t be a shitty leader forever. I was thrown to the wolves and started sinking. I identified it and thankfully had some holiday time off to recharge and have come back with a clear mind. I acknowledged where I have room for improvement and where I still need to learn more about leadership and managing. I was self-rejecting. 

I am pretty sure my inner critic’s default behavior is to self-reject. It feels like that is what my first reaction is and it fucking sucks. I know that I will eventually get to a point where self-rejection isn’t my go-to, but until then, I will keep asking questions and keep reflecting on what I know is true about myself. The more I grow my own way and the more I make the most of myself, the less I self-reject.

Little by little I continue to be the woman I know I can be.

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