Say the word ‘rejection’ and the majority of people cringe as we’ve all felt the pain of it at one time or another. It’s one of the most loaded words in the English language. Chances are just reading it right now you’re thinking back to the lover who dumped you – either actively by telling you it was over or passively by just disappearing after a few dates when you thought it was going so well. Then there’s professional and work rejection – that job or promotion you didn’t get despite your best efforts. The rejection of so-called friends or peer groups which of course begins the moment we go to school, and for those of you who are in the creative or performing arts, the rejection can feel so much more personal than it does for other professions: the manuscript that’s rejected, the audition you fail for that part you really wanted, the gallery that won’t take your paintings. Our creative work is part of us – so when it gets rejected we feel rejected too. If it is us who is our own creation – we are an actor or a model, then it is not only our work that is rejected but ourselves on every level. No wonder a famous actor friend of mine had the following advice: Hide of a rhino, heart of a dove which can actually be applied to anyone who faces rejection in any situation.
We will all continue to face situations that involve rejection as rejection is sadly, part of the experience of attaining goal success. To reach our goals we have to put ourselves, our work or whatever it is we have to offer ‘out there’ and by doing so we risk rejection. In fact, it becomes inevitable when you think about it. If you look at successful people they have usually encountered multiple situations where they have been rejected before getting that breakthrough. This can range from being stood up or dumped by numerous dates before they found ‘the one’ – or in the case of JK Rowling, rejection by countless agents and publishers before Harry Potter was finally picked up. No one is immune, but to succeed we have to push through the temporary feeling of hopelessness and worthlessness because in the end – nothing succeeds like persistence.
Not shooting for the stars is not an option and in aiming for our dreams, we may get rejected. So, what can we do during the process to take the sting out of the rejection situation? First, we need to stop seeing ourselves as the ‘victim’ of someone’s rejection – whether this is personal or professional, and see the situation as an information gathering process – and one that is two-way for that matter. Going back to my first example of the ‘passive’ rejection – the date that just vanishes on you after a few meetings. While you don’t have closure on one level, what you do have is information that this person may well be an emotional coward and is certainly ill-mannered if they cannot do you the courtesy of explaining politely that they do not want to take the connection any further. Looked at this way – do you really want someone who has such a problem with communicating honestly in your life? You know the answer to that! So, they have in fact furnished you with information that they are unsuitable as long-term partnership material. Obviously if the relationship has progressed further, the more you are emotionally invested and the more being told the relationship is over will hurt. Again, you are being given information. How does the person go about ending it? If they make it cruel – tell you there is someone else, make unkind personal comments that make you feel you are ‘not good’ enough according to them, then look at this as an insight into a side of them you may not have known existed and ask yourself that knowing this, would they really be what you need in your life? If they end it in the best way they can, understand that we can all change our soul contracts at any time, allow yourself to grieve but don’t see it as a rejection.
No matter what your age, if a so-called friend or group of friends reject you, all this tells you is that you are with the wrong friend or group and see it as an opportunity to find the right one. There is nothing wrong with you and it says more about them than anything else.
If your rejection is on a professional level then you usually have the option of asking why you have not been successful. Again, don’t see this as a rejection of you, your skills or what you have to offer. Always remember that attending a job interview is a two-way process. Yes, they are interviewing you. But this is your career and livelihood and you should see yourself as interviewing them as well. If you have attended several interviews without success and your feedback is similar each time then take this on board. However, also bear in mind if you feel their comments or reasons for not giving you the job are unjustified, that perhaps working for them would not have been the best move for you. Some people are bad interviewers, others can reveal themselves via the interview process as potentially ‘problem’ bosses or managers – or the company culture may not be one where you would flourish. Look at the information you have gathered in hindsight – like a detective and chances are where you examine the evidence you will start to see that you have gained valuable insight. Looked at this way, that ‘rejection’ may now be revealed as something else entirely.
If you are consistently passed over for promotion at your current place of work despite you working hard to address any issues your employer brings up, consider that the information you are being given is telling you that this company isn’t the one where you can advance your career and put your energy into applying to a new one instead.
When we re-frame a situation where we are rejected into an information gathering experience, we take the sting out of the ‘R’ word, stop being a victim and become empowered instead. Yes, rejection hurts and is demoralising. But how much we allow it to hurt and for how long, really does depend on how we view it – and what we learn from it in the process.
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