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How often do you feel rejected, ignored, or excluded?

Like it or not, meanness is not something you only experience in high school.

Cruelty and cattiness are all too common in this world.

But one mom’s heart-wrenching response to being excluded is so touching and relevant, it will change the way you look at rejection, too.

When popular blogger and bestselling author Rachel Macy Stafford encountered a pair of mean moms, she felt the same feelings we all feel when we get rejected – inadequate, unworthy, irrelevant.

However, she didn’t let the experience bring her down. Instead, she chose to look at it differently.

Here’s how she made a lesson out of a horrible situation.

Getting rejected

Describing her experience on her Facebook page, Stafford relayed her encounter with two “mean moms” while taking her daughter to the first day of her new extracurricular activity.

She says:

“My fifth-grade daughter started a new extracurricular activity a few weeks ago. We’re still learning the ropes and aren’t quite sure how things run. On the first day, we walked up to two women who were waiting with their children for the activity to start. I politely asked them a question about protocol and explained we were new.

“I was met with annoyed facial expressions and curt answers.

“Following that response with an introduction seemed inappropriate so I turned to their children and introduced myself and my daughter to them. We talked with the children until the class began. The following week, I saw the women again in the waiting area.

“Hello,” I said warmly. “How are you both doing today?” I received mumbled replies and they immediately turned back to each other and continued talking. My daughter and I talked to each other which relieved the painful sense of feeling invisible.

The next week, she dropped her daughter there again. She saw the same pair of women. Only this time, she no longer had the courage to speak to them.

She adds:

“I felt a twinge of something I couldn’t explain in my stomach. It was not a pleasant feeling – perhaps anxiety, embarrassment, awkwardness?”

These emotions, she said, made her feel like “not trying” anymore.

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But then, she came to a realization:

This encounter with those mean moms wasn’t a punishment – it was a gift.

“The concept of using people’s hurtful actions as opportunities for self-growth.”

Stafford realized a valuable lesson – you cannot control how good or bad people treat you. But you can control how you react to their treatment.

She quoted author Kari Kampakis’ notion of using other people’s hurtful actions as fuel for self-growth:

“Regardless of how anyone treats you, you stand to benefit. While some people teach you who you do want to be, others teach you who you don’t want to be.

“And it’s the people who teach you who you don’t want to be that provide some of the most lasting and memorable lessons on social graces, human dignity, and the importance of acting with integrity.”

Stafford refused to feel inadequate for being rejected. Instead, she saw it as a reminder to be kind.

She adds:

“Remember this.”

“Remember this when you are in familiar territory and someone new walks up looking for guidance.

“Remember this when you see someone on the outskirts anxiously holding her own hand.

“Remember this when someone approaches you and asks a question – see the bravery behind the words.

“Remember this when you see someone stop trying – perhaps he’s been rejected one too many times.

“Remember this when you see someone being excluded or alienated – just one friendly person can relieve the painful sense of feeling invisible.

“Remember the deepest desire of the human heart is to belong … to be welcomed … to know you are seen and worthy of kindness.”

A lesson for kindness and compassion

Stafford realized that the unkind treatment she experienced could be a way to “gain awareness, compassion, and connection.”

When she shared her story on her Facebook page, she received overwhelming support. This reminded her that “the need to belong is unmet for many people in our society.”

One such beautiful response was from a fellow writer, Alexandra Rosas, who wrote:

“You didn’t know when you wrote that, but you were to be in my life today after I received the coldest shoulder when I greeted a group of women. You, I came home to you.

“You halved my pain and I halved yours: it’s together for each other that we find strength to ask, learn, and never fold up and disappear.”

We can choose to be kind. Choose to be compassionate. Choose to spread love instead of hate and cruelty.

And Rachel Macy Stafford’s actions just prove that even if we encounter just one kind person, that person has the ability to change one’s life.

One person. Just one person – to be kind.

So why can’t it be you? 

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