Since personalities differ, different people respond to Rejection differently. While some simply give in to a form of defeat, using their problem as a lever to make others carry them, or others simply hide away and get on with life quietly, there are those who decide they need attention.
Maybe this is the extrovert response. But I believe it is also evident even in small ways, with people who are quite retiring.
The process works something like this. A person suffering from rejection, insecurity and the like finds that something they do gains them approval and attention. It may be that people are very thankful for their help, or that someone compliments them on their hair, voice, smile, or some other quality.
To a wounded heart that small deposit of affirmation takes on enormous proportions. It is easy then for the needy person to decide to do more of the thing that gained them attention.
Retreat to Safe Territory
We see this process too when a person finds their area of strength. A child who is not strong at book work will tend to concentrate on their sporting, artistic or trouble-making abilities. They retreat to the safety of something they can excel in, or for which they are gaining a reputation, or even notoriety.
Those who are not good with their hands may retreat to the world of study. Those who can’t handle being around people may retreat into the kitchen or workshop.
This is a similar process to playing up a strength in order to “buy attention”.
Picture the Extrovert
The image I created to describe the extrovert reject is that of someone who is shrivelled up on the inside, but who not only projects a better image, but magnifies their worthy qualities.
The extrovert may play up his or her buoyant personality and winning smile. They may excel at academics to prove their worth. They may become a sporting hero, or an entertainer, or a skilled mechanic. They may display their wealth.
Whatever they magnify in their life will be the things they have come to believe will impress others and give them a form of input, as a substitute for the love they so deeply crave.
Substitute for Love
The person seeking attention, by being popular, notorious, impressive or accepted in some special way, is actually trying to buy love. Because they can’t force people to love them, they must revert to “attention” as the substitute for love.
It is claimed that people who make trouble, at home, school or in the community, can be seeking some form of attention. Being rebuked by an angry father may be the only way some children can get their parent’s attention.
This is Me!
My rejection journey took me to this place. This is how I dealt with my feelings of insecurity, inferiority and rejection. I became the ‘life of the party’ type of person, when I could. I tried to impress people with my worth. When people commented on my singing or how deep my voice was, I decided to use those abilities to impress.
I created the image of a person more mature than my age, with more intelligence than I actually had. I avoided areas where I was weakest, such as most sporting activities, and concentrated on public speaking, debating and acting. I made a discipline of learning any funny joke I heard, so I could gain the reputation of being the best joke teller.
I would lie awake at night re-telling jokes in my mind, so I could be in full control of the delivery of the punch line. I even mentally rehearsed how I would walk into a group to gain the most effect of my presence.
The problem with buying attention is that it is not love. It also comes at a cost, so it is not love freely given. No matter how much attention people can gain, they will never feel truly loved. Love is a very different thing to attention.
And love, at its best, is given to us when we don’t deserve it. So, getting attention by winning it from people also lacks that rich quality of being freely bestowed.
No matter how much attention I could gain, and I had my moments when I performed very well, my deep insecurities and pain were completely untouched.
So the extrovert is caught up in what Solomon called “vanity”. They are wasting their time. Buying attention, no matter how impressively you perform, will never do anything for the real needs deep within.
My extroversion led me to become a fake. I so honed my public face, playing it up and adjusting it so it had the best chance of winning attention. But that made my public image into something unreal.
My life became increasingly “plastic” and fake. I may have looked like a success story to casual observers, but the real me on the inside was as empty as ever.
I lived “on stage” all the time. I was performing for an audience all the time. I was conscious of how I was coming across all the time. I was burdened and enslaved to my image keeping.
I kept trying to think up the wittiest or most intelligent things to say. I looked for ways to assert myself into the centre of people’s attention. If I was outwitted, or outshone by someone I felt the sting.
By God’s grace He was able to deliver me from my plastic life. I will say more about this in later lessons, but suffice it to say here that God challenged me about the fact that I was fake.
He impressed me with the truth that He loved me, the Real me, just the way I am. He also saw right through my fake façade. He then impressed me that He only deals with Real People. If I chose to stay a fake He could not help me or use me in His purposes.
If I agreed to pull down my fake front and let God love me the way I really was, then He would heal me and make my miserable self into a much grander person than my false front could ever appear to be. And that new “me” would be 100% real!
I knew that I needed that kind of reality, and I desperately wanted to be loved unconditionally. So I let God do His work in my life. I was hesitant and took some encouraging and coaxing along the way, but I did make that journey.
I would never want to go back to the foolishness of my false front and my attention grabbing performances. God’s love and the security it brings are rich beyond my wildest hopes.
So, hang in there. Freedom can be yours and God’s love is freely available to you, as it was to me.