Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Rejection Complex

A rejection complex was a bugbear that I struggled with for many years, stemming back to my earliest years. Its claws gouged deep wounds in me that I feared would never heal. Here is a poem I wrote recently about part of my decades long struggles with it.

Twisting Roots
twisting roots
have ensnared me.
I am weary,
a beast burdened by
the weight
of past hurts.
To protect myself
I create
the Golden Rule:
“I must never reach out,
I must hide my heart,
for I cannot risk
being rejected again.”
I withdraw behind
these lifeless walls.
Safe, yet
without hope.

Time passes,
I question why
I have such little faith.
Nothing ventured,
nothing gained.
So I tear down
those walls I built.
And like a toddler
taking his first steps,
I venture forth
and risk my heart
yet again.
I persevere
and in the fullness of time,
I meet her.
And gain
so much.

Characteristics of a Rejection Complex

One characteristic of a rejection complex is the tendency to read rejection into everything: a cancelled appointment by a friend or acquaintance, a raised voice, an ambiguous statement, a frown – any of these actions can be misinterpreted as rejection, even when rejection was not even present.

To further complicate matters, when someone with a rejection complex is actually rejected, it is quite common to spend hours mulling over the rejection clues, as we try to convince ourselves that this is only another case of misreading the other person.

And then to cap it all off, once we acknowledge or recognise that we have been rejected, it is common for us to pick up the ball and reject ourselves. This is typically linked to past episodes of rejection, especially if it occurred during our childhood. We may parrot the criticisms that others have spoken over us, telling ourselves that we are worthless and useless. Descending into self-hatred, we may even punish ourselves in an attempt to stop ourselves from repeating the behaviour/ mistake/sin that caused this particular episode of rejection. And worst of all, we may try to force ourselves into becoming someone other than ourselves in a vain attempt to please the other person.

A typical characteristic of a rejection complex is to surround ourselves with rules or walls that are designed to protect us from ever being exposed to the unbearable pain of being rejected again.

Conditional Love and Unconditional Love

Understanding the difference between conditional love and unconditional love is crucial in being set free from the fear of rejection.

Conditional love says, “I’ll only love you if you do what I want you to do.” Conditional love sets impossible standards that we can never meet, it is never satisfied, and when we fail to meet those standards, it classifies us as useless and worthless and then rejects us. And if we make a mistake or sin, it is treated as deliberate rebellion and we are judged for it. Conditional love is not love at all. It is self-centred, neurotic, controlling, paranoid, and fearful.

God desires to set us free from the bondage of conditional love. He wants to set us free from the trap of living to please men, and bring us into the freedom of living to please Him. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. 1 Thessalonians 2:4. God’s love, in stark contrast to conditional love, is unconditional, and He not only extends it to us through His grace and mercy, but He also forms it within us as the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

God’s unconditional love is patient and kind. It does not seek to manipulate others, it does not set impossible standards, it is not self-centred, and it accepts us. If we make a mistake, unconditional love recognises this, and does not judge. If we commit a sin, unconditional love illuminates the sin in order to bring conviction, and encourages repentance and a change in behaviour. Unconditional love restores us to fellowship, and it says, “Even if you blow it, I will still love you.”

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Let us keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus, and dwell in the security of His unconditional love. He will never leave us nor forsake us. The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8


  1. So thankful for GOD's unconditional love!

  2. Oh I so know that rejection cycle.....
    being hurt, which can lead to anger, the to self condemnation. And walls, that keep us seemingly protected, but close off our hearts!!

    Praise God for his unconditional and redeeming love.

    Thanks for this post!

  3. Peter, rightly spoken...I certainly can identify. Thanks again for sharing the wisdom gained from your own suffering with us. Blessings,

  4. This cycle was a huge part of my life for many years. Thanking the Lord for setting me free...and you too! I always want to dwell on His unconditional love.

  5. Its always so unique unconditional love ;)
    Thanks for this wonderful post
    you can write VERY well :)))

  6. Oh big time I can relate. Thank God that He does not do this to us. Even though we may feel it at times. Thank you for sharing dear one. Blessings to you.

  7. Peter, I too can relate to this rejection complex. Thank God that we are accepted in Him for our Lord's sake, and we can dwell safely in His unconditional love! Thanks for this precious reminder. Take care and have a very blessed week.

    Warm greetings,

  8. Thank you for this post Peer I have benefitted much

  9. i am going through this and depression right now. its really hard but im not giving up. i can really relate to you. i have struggled with this for years without knowing it. it is a good thing that Love is patient and kind. this encourages me to keep going.

  10. I have dealt with the feeling of rejection all my life, it is no wonder my marriages did not work. However, I have learned that I am a work in progress and God is not through molding me yet. So while the downside is that I have spent too much of my life feeling sad, I don't want to any more and that is the upside. Because with Christ I can do anything, He strengthens me and I am leaning on Him. Thank you for this site and your words of encouragement.

  11. This site is a true blessing. I have been struggling with my faith because of my depression. Everything I've read was like seeing my own thoughts and feelings in print. I am encouraged that there are those who know exactly how I feel and that I can't just "get over it" and stop feeling this way. This site spoke to the many questions I was asking about my relationship with God. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I believe that finding this site may have been an answer to my prayers.

  12. Dear Anonymous,
    It has been my prayer that the Lord would use this site to comfort and encourage others who are going through the same journey that I, and many others, have gone through. Because as you said, we cannot "get over it."
    I pray that your faith can be strengthened and that you may come ever closer to God and to Jesus, our wonderful Redeemer.
    God bless

  13. I also thank you for this post. This is something I have suffered with for most of my life. At this point I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it is such a hard journey.