From Guilt to Greatness Week #4: Facing Our Fear of Rejection

Oh Dears,

I wish I could begin this message in celebration.  As I write this, I realize that perhaps you are celebrating his win as a victory.  I honor how you feel, and also recognize that I feel differently than you.

Personally, I am deeply grieving the election of Donald Trump and I can’t hold that inside.

I am grieving my illusion that the majority of my country would choose a compassionate leader and use their vote to speak against racism, sexism and hate-mongering.  

I am grieving the hurt these results cause others who have been marginalized by Trump’s divisive rhetoric.  

I am grieving that I didn’t do more to help Hillary’s campaign.

I’m also grieving the death of my own optimism.  This feels like a big one for me.

Yesterday, while listening to NPR, I heard a reporter say that he felt both “hopeful” and “pessimistic” about the election results.  Puzzled, I wondered about the difference between the two words.

Later that night at dinner, my friend and awesome yoga therapist Yael began speaking about a concept she had used in her yoga classes this week.  During these classes, she broke down the difference between hope and optimism.  

My ears perked up.  Here was the answer to my question!

Apparently, optimism is more akin to wishful thinking.  It’s a flimsy thing that goes out the window as soon as reality kicks its feet through the door.

I’ve always been a big fan of optimism. I loooove to hang out in the airy space of wishing for the best.  I wished for the best that our nation would look reasonably at the candidates, and Hillary would be elected.  

As the election results began rolling in, I saw my optimism slowly slink away.  She left without a proper goodbye.  I felt naked and unmoored without her cover.  

However, what replaced her was Yael’s definition of hope.  According to her, hope is the tried-and-true life experience that reminds us we are strong enough to keep going in the face of defeat.  

Hope is resiliency.  It’s the opposite of flimsy.  When reality storms in, hope puts the kettle on the stove and rolls up its sleeves.  Hope knows how to rally the troops so we can all get back to work.  Hope knows how to play the long game.

This morning I woke up feeling like someone had died.  I checked the internet immediately to make sure I hadn’t dreamed the whole thing.  I hadn’t.  I cried ugly tears and felt despondent.

Within all of the emotion, hope was there to hold me.  Hope reminded me to drink a big cup of warm water, held my hands as I scraped my tongue, and cheered me on as I did a few cranky sun salutations.

This morning I’ve stayed doggedly with hope and have benefited immensely from its rugged wisdom.  Optimism is long gone, but I don’t miss her much.  Hope is keeping me warm on this chilly day.

Perhaps you could use some of hope’s wisdom too?  Here are a few ways that you can face the reality of this election experience while staying hopeful.

Stay with your self-care.  Do your morning routine.  Go to bed earlier.  Drink water.  Breathe when you get overwhelmed.  It’s very easy to want to numb out by clicking around the  internet, or by drinking too much alcohol (or insert your avoidance trick) during these moments.  Please don’t.  We need you awake and feeling as we take these next steps forward.

Feel your feelings.  Hiding in optimism means I don’t have to feel the depths of my sadness.  Hope means facing my feelings fully.  It’s a brave thing to feel the hurt, anger, grief and fear that going through such a polarizing experience brings.  Practice extra gentleness as you cry.  Blame (including self-blame) is actually a way of avoiding grief.  Just be with the feelings in the here and now.  They won’t last forever. The only way out is through.

Find support.  Lean into the care of others who are also struggling to make sense of what happened.  Make sure that your support network feels like a safe space, and then let yourself fall apart in the safe space.  Hold others as they do the same.  Notice how much more connected to the whole you feel when you grieve with others.  Don’t look for solutions right now. That can be a form of avoiding the depth of feeling.  Feeling the pain fully will bring solutions in the right time.

Go outside.  Look at rain droplets and kick through piles of dead leaves.  Remember the constancy of Mother Nature.  She’s been around for much longer than us and will remain when we are gone. Yet she is solidly here for you now.  If you are willing to listen to her, she will whisper wisdom into your ear.  Touch grass and water. Take the time and space you need to remember your inherent connection to the whole.

Lastly, have a listen to this beautiful conversation between Larrisa and I as we continue the series of From Guilt to Greatness Week #4:  Facing Our Fear of Rejection.  

In this episode, Larrisa and I talk about how to find true integration of work and life (as opposed to the myth of “work/life balance”), and discuss why this integration can bring up a crippling fear of rejection.  

At the end of the podcast, I share my vision for how self-care truly is feminine leadership, and how we can use self-care to carry us through the hardest parts of this journey

We recorded this earlier yesterday evening, when we both still had some optimism in our pockets.  The night didn’t turn out as we thought it would.  However, listening back, I think I can hear the ever-present current of hope telling us to keep going, no matter what.

Tonight, make yourself a cup of tea and have a listen.  Share your own hurts and hope in the comments if you are moved.

We are not alone, and there is so much ahead. Please hold on dearly to the hope we slip into each other’s pockets.  We do this every time we make eye contact with a stranger on the street, when we listen fully to another, or engage in a selfless act of service.  

Hold these bits of hope in your hand like you would a worry stone.  Run your fingers over the smooth surface and calm your own jagged edges.  Fill your pockets with them so you don’t float up and away from the world that needs your beautiful weight right now.  

Use them to anchor yourself to your beloved center.  This way, you can stay with us as we keep walking forward, drenched in togetherness, toward the never-ending light.