I was chatting with a client of mine last week who was having some concerns about whether or not he should invite his work colleagues to his birthday party.
See, this client had moved cities after graduating to take his current job and didn’t really feel close to the people he worked with.
In fact, he didn’t feel like he belonged to any circle of friends in this new city at all.
The question then was not so much “Should I invite my colleagues to my party?” but rather “Should I even have a party?”
The underlying problem was a fear of rejection.
My client believed that by inviting his colleagues to a birthday party, they would say no and he would feel rejected.
I then shared my own example of a similar situation to demonstrate that what he was feeling was just a story he was telling himself to stay safe.
Here’s what I shared…
This story takes place about three years ago at my (now) wife’s birthday. Back then, we’d seen each other a couple of times but things were still just friendly.
My wife had planned to invite a bunch of friends to a dinner and movie to celebrate her birthday, but as fate would have it, only 3 people could make it; her sister, her sister’s fiance, and me!
And so what was supposed to be a fun night out with a group of friends turned into a double date (still laughing as I type this).
The thing is, my wife could easily have created a similar story about how her friends not coming meant there was something wrong with her.
Instead, that night was the catalyst that kickstarted our relationship and led to us being the happy little family we are today.
Here’s the big lesson in all of this:
It’s never about what happens to you. It’s about the story you create around it.
This is echoed in The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, where one of the agreements is to never take anything personally.
If you feel hurt by something someone says or does, it’s because it’s hit a wound that was already there. It’s not about the person or the thing, but about you taking it personally.
Likewise, if other people form an opinion about you, it’s based on their belief system. In other words, it has nothing to do with you, but everything to do with them and what’s going on in their world.
The next time you feel rejected, hard-done-by or anything else, try to step back and see if the situation is really true or if you’ve just created a story around it. And, realize that it may lead to something even better than you could imagine (like my wife’s birthday did three years ago).
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