The Game of Rejection


“God breaks the heart again and again and again until it stays open.”
~Hazrat Inayat Khan

One habitual pattern of reactivity that hobbles most humans in their relationships with each other, and even with the Divine, is the Game of Rejection. It’s a developmentally immature tit-for-tat syndrome, based on a contraction at the heart. It could also be characterized as a wound of love upon which we have emotionally fixated, even at the subconscious level. This contraction tends to manifest in our social interactions as the chronic complaint and retaliatory mood: “You don’t love me, so I will withhold my love from you!”

As self-contracted individuals, beset by a classic struggle waged internally amid conflicts born of grasping and avoiding, we compose this running complaint into a fixed self-image (the rejected one, the unloved one, the offended one), and so strike out in hurt and anger to punish the perceived cause of our wound – our relations, the ones who fail to adore and please us, who fail to confirm our existence in the manner we would prefer.

If we honestly inspect our own core identity program, we can notice that fear is at the root of this self-contraction, and that the function of it is self-preservation – the survival and even elevation of the ego-mind-self we have imagined ourselves to be. Conditioned by the divisive propaganda of the world, this mental construct is based on a fantasy story in which we have been investing an assumed reality since first becoming self-conscious – the absorbing narrative of “me and mine”.

After all, what are we perpetually striving to assert, protect, and defend, if not some fundamental image we cherish of ourselves? The self-contraction’s primal orientation is fear, and so all efforts at preserving the self-image only tend to reinforce this malignant attitude of fear itself, even to the extent of rejecting all relations which would appear to challenge our identified positions.

Everyone knows exactly what unconditional love feels like, just as everyone knows what it is like to be perfectly happy, perfectly at peace, and free of wanting. However, that knowledge has become obscured to a greater or lesser degree by forms of ignorance which we have cumulatively superimposed on our innocent and pure knowing. That obscuring contraction at the heart manifests in life and relations in the form of greed, envy, hatred, arrogance, anger, and all self-serving strategies of fear, separation, and prejudice.

We are here to learn again — to re-cognize — through the experience of being human, just what our original face looks like, the divine face of Love. Due to the density of our amnesia, most of us seem to require a demonstration of what we already know in our hearts, to remind us of our original nature. When we witness acts of true love, for example, something resonates behind the armor we have constructed over time (based on perceived hurts) to protect and defend our transient self-images.

In order for us to resume our natural state, the spontaneous innocence of original nature, the Game of Rejection based on this heart-binding self-contraction must be investigated, seen for what it is, and whole-heartedly discarded. It must become thoroughly obsolete in the revelatory light of awakening to who and what we really are (and aren’t). What we have been expressing through the Game of Rejection is our failure to adapt to and mature beyond the adolescent and destructive moods of un-love with which we habitually infect our relationships.

We need to directly recognize how this fear-based self-contraction is being constantly played out in conditioned and repetitive patterns, constantly being re-confirmed in the form of the neurotic message “You don’t love me, so I won’t love you”. Through all the personal and social media, politics, religion, and family life, we are chronically inserting that childish message of conflict and ambivalence. It is all-pervasive, and the cause of most of the turbulence we experience in this human realm, particularly when coupled with the uninspected sexual motive and impulse. Once this is fully understood, then we can begin to release its fixated grip on our emotional life, little by little, or in great leaps.

The only solvent to this complex Game of Rejection is love, but prior to recognizing who and what we are, prior to awakening to our own Divinity, love is simply another “four letter word”. Thus, life itself requires that we be humbled enough to recognize our error of judgment and appreciation, and in such recognition, in such genuine humility, allow what is prior to emerge from slumber. That which is prior is Awareness itself, and the function of Awareness is selfless compassion, the natural projection of unconditional real Love, limitless and free.

Moreover, if we will be Love, we must constantly encounter, understand, and see through the game being played out by others who may still be trapped in the vicious cycle of complaint and retaliation, and be willing to lovingly bear the wound, in order to skillfully transcend it through uncontrived forgiveness, rather than habitually falling back into the mood of un-love ourselves.

The Game of Rejection requires its players to defend themselves against the wounds of Love, and to react as if every wound is a personal attack. However, if we attempt to become immune to the feelings aroused by apparent rejection, we would also need to become immune to Love Itself. That is the essence of the self-contraction.

What is possible is to surrender our grievances, to relax and let go of all grudges and stories of betrayal and rejection that have characterized our relationships. Only by doing so can we begin to awaken to our fundamental identity as a unique manifestation of Source’s own unconditional Love. When we are able to recognize the apparent “other” as our self, then compassion has at last become real in our case — Love re-cognizes Itself.

To do this, we need to stop acting betrayed and offended in reaction to the feeling of being apparently rejected. We need to persistently understand, see through, and go beyond that tendency conditioned into our emotional being by the hateful propaganda of this realm. That is, we must stop punishing and rejecting others as a matter of habitual reactivity, stop withholding love, even if it seems as if the natural reaction would have us to strike back in self-defense. This is difficult, and takes sincere and dedicated practice, but what is the alternative?

Love does not fail us when we are apparently rejected, betrayed, and not loved. Love only fails when we ourselves reject, betray, and withhold love. Our habit of reacting to the apparent rejection by others as if it were a personal insult always coincides with our reactive habit of rejecting others. Unless this dark equation is interrupted by heartfelt insight, this game inevitably escalates, imprinting notches in the grooves of the relationship program which are increasingly difficult to erase.

Since all relations are energy interactions, the only way to resolve the ensuing contraction of that angry game of rejection is to re-adapt our own energy vibration and feeling-being to the heart-sense of the innocent, the child-like, and become once again utterly vulnerable in love. This is also why the Christ archetype suggests we become again like little children, if we would awaken to our true radiance. By remaining vulnerable in love, we will still feel Love’s wound, but we will manage to persist in Love. Therefore, the most direct way to know Love in every moment is to be Love in every moment. Nothing else will pacify our heart.


About Bob OHearn

My name is Bob O'Hearn, and I live with my Beloved Mate, Mazie, in the foothills of the Northern California Sierra Nevada Mountains. I have a number of blog sites you may enjoy: Photo Gallery: Essays on the Conscious Process: Compiled Poetry and Prosetry: Verses and ramblings on life as it is: Verses and Variations on the Investigation of Mind Nature: Verses on the Play of Consciousness: Poetic Fiction, Fable, Fantabulation: Poems of the Mountain Hermit: Love Poems from The Book of Yes: Autobiographical Fragments, Memories, Stories, and Tall Tales: Ancient and modern spiritual texts, creatively refreshed: Writings from selected Western Mystics, Classic and Modern: Wisdom of a Spirit Guide: Thank You!
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8 Responses to The Game of Rejection

  1. Bob OHearn says:

    “Whenever the energy of anger comes up, we often want to express it to punish the person whom we believe to be the source of our suffering. This is the habit energy in us. When we suffer, we always blame the other person for having made us suffer. We do not realize that anger is, first of all, our business. We are primarily responsible for our anger, but we believe very naively that if we can say something or do something to punish the other person, we will suffer less. This kind of belief should be uprooted. Because whatever you do or say in a state of anger will only cause more damage in the relationship. Instead, we should try not to do anything or say anything when we are angry.”

    ~ Thích Nhất Hạnh

  2. Excellent observations Bob, thank you!!

  3. Bob OHearn says:

    What We Want Most From Relationships (But Rarely Get)

    The hardest thing in the world (or one of them anyway) is to listen to someone we care about (and even someone we don’t) talk about an experience that sounds painful—and not step in to help, offer suggestions, or try to fix it. The second-hardest (not necessarily in this order) is to listen to someone describe a problem that they (or we) believe we are responsible for—and not defend ourselves. And rounding out this trio is to listen to someone describe a problem for which we believe they are to blame and have created, and not try to convince them of their responsibility.

    Counterintuitive though it may feel, simply (but not easily) offering our compassionate presence to another human being—being willing to truly understand what the other is living, and selfless enough to get out of the way of their unfolding process—we are actually offering the greatest gift we can—and the experience that we all really crave. While we may believe that we are not giving enough, we are actually giving the very thing the other person wants, but is not allowed to say they want. By seemingly doing nothing (but truly listening), we are allowing the other to discover what they need to discover, creating and holding the space in which their problem can uncover its own solution (which is rarely anything we could have come up with). Experience teaches us to trust the profoundly transformative and healing power of being with—holding a space for another person’s experience. By being willing and courageous enough to do nothing with and to another’s experience, we are actually doing the most profound thing of all.

    In addition, while it can be very difficult to refrain from defending ourselves when we feel we are being blamed (or are to blame), by simply holding a space for another’s unhappiness, we establish ourselves as one who authentically cares, who wants to and is brave enough to know the other’s experience (even if it is about us). In so doing, we become a person who is not deserving of blame, who loves deeply enough to put our own ego aside to know another fully, to put knowing the other first, even if what we come to know in the process is painful. In this sense, though it is challenging to practice, we actually accomplish more on our own behalf by listening deeply and openly as opposed to defending ourselves. The listening is the defense.

    Finally, when we are able to just listen to another’s experience, without judgment, even when we believe the other person to be responsible for the experience they are describing, the other person experiences our compassion, which increases the possibility that they will come to discover their own role in their experience. Pointing out the other’s responsibility or blaming them on the other hand only serves to increase their defensiveness, making it less likely that they will take ownership for their experience. If our intention is to help the other own their behavior, listening openly and without judgment is the best method for accomplishing our goal. Making the other feel loved, through our deep and present listening, is the only way to create a safe enough place from which the other can assume the responsibility we want them to assume.

  4. Bob OHearn says:

    Whenever the energy of anger comes up, we often want to express it to punish the person whom we believe to be the source of our suffering. This is the habit energy in us. When we suffer, we always blame the other person for having made us suffer. We do not realize that anger is, first of all, our business. We are primarily responsible for our anger, but we believe very naively that if we can say something or do something to punish the other person, we will suffer less. This kind of belief should be uprooted. Because whatever you do or say in a state of anger will only cause more damage in the relationship. Instead, we should try not to do anything or say anything when we are angry.

    ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

  5. Bob OHearn says:

    “For me, for what is my lifelong spiritual practice, I’ve discovered that the practice and teaching is everything that presents in my life, all the experiences that I am privy to, including watching the television which is the hall of televised satsangs/services around this part of the worldwide woods.

    What I see and hear is what I study, and what I study is transmuted into things such as the koan, the scripture, the teachings, the talk, the mantra, the guru … the mirror.

    On a television program called ‘Ink Masters’ there is a portion of it in which the human canvas’ (or ‘skins’ as they’re referred to by the tattoo artists) all gather around and decide which one of them received the worst tattoo. Almost without fail, each and every person stood up undeterredly in favor of their tattoo, defending it against all the others skins’ criticisms given about it. They invariably and adamantly refused to accept or admit that it was a bad tattoo in any way, even if it obviously (to everyone else) was the worst one.

    Why did they do this? Why do any of us do this when something we perceive and present to the public as ‘I, me, mine’ is rejected, unaccepted, blamed, not praised, or ridiculed? And just think, it can be absolutely anything and everything we associate ourselves with and identify with.

    We’ve seen it, this behavior of identification. We see it every day, especially in ourselves if we’re honest. It could be a reaction to how others, how anyone receives and then responds to our ideas, our concepts, our tattoos, hairdos, our incomes, heart thrums, our Pops our Mums, our poems, tomes, shares, our likes, skypes, hypes or just about anything at all that we identify with.

    That which we identify with and cling to can bring about a painful emotional reactivity of super-sensitivity for each person, for this conglomerate of memories and experiences we see as ‘me’ are always being tested for acceptability.

    We find it difficult to simply allow others’ opinions in without our having a personal reactivity of angst and even anger, be it private or public. If we’re not agreed with and multi-back-patted for our thoughts (which we think we are) our cleverness, our wise-ness, our offerings then we react out.

    Ultimately, it appears that it’s all about our need to be accepted and our desire to being loved, and thus it’s all about our survivability as a Self, a Person … a human being in a world filled with gazillions of other human beings competing for that same acceptance and love.

    In nearly everyone posting on the internet social gathering sites, like this one, like the old Yahoo-Groups, this deeply ingrained, hard-wired human behavior is in evidence. I certainly see it when it arises in myself. There is my inquiry – there is my practice – there is my guru – there is my mirror! Why does such-and-such cause me to react, to feel the need to defend myself?

    ‘They’ actually don’t. We do that to ourselves by thinking we are what we say and do and share, even if that sharing is something someone else said or wrote or shared.

    What is shared and written, what is discussed and talked about,
    that’s the newly acquired afore-mentioned tattoo, and each of the responses (and the likes, or the lack thereof of likes) from others might as well be the other tattooed skins baring their brand new facebook-delivered tattoo-posts for all to see.

    We want these identifications we call our own to be seen as wonderful, as wantable, as non-rejectable, as enviable, as a most beautiful face-book tattoo so fine that they’ll be beyond rejection or judgement.

    We all desire our attractiveness to others’ to be so compelling it will forever assure us of the love and acceptance of the tribe in order that we might survive and thrive as a human being. We don’t want to be rejected and kicked out because that is ingrained to our atoms as a ‘death’ as a sure road to not surviving and being a self, a being called ‘I, me, my, mine.’ If we are applauded and liked, we’re fine … that is until the next posting from others arrives to test our acceptance.”

    ~Mazie Lane, from a Facebook Post 3/31/16

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