Facing rejection is a hard thing to do. When we face rejection, we try to deal with the rejection as quickly and painlessly as possible. There are small rejections we face every day – the bus driver driving away when you arrive at the bus stop just as he closes the door or the waitress who says you cannot substitute the French fries with onion rings. These are small rejections! Small rejections are not as difficult to deal with as bigger rejections that truly disappoint us - the person you went on a date with does not text you back, the job interviewer does not offer you a position, the project proposal you’ve been working so hard on gets rejected at the weekly meeting. Rejection sucks! It can make us huff and puff during a commute or make us feel outright worthless.
This article is for people who are having trouble facing the small rejections that occur on a daily basis.
Reaching out to another human being means that there is a chance that rejection will be coming your way. Many people live their lives with desires they do not pursue out of fear of rejection.
A useful approach that stems from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), is to focus on changing ones internal dialogues about ones past and future. Frequently, your thoughts about rejection are causing you distress. Instead, try to shift the way you look at rejection.
1. Rejection is a chance for feedback.
Rejection is a chance for feedback that will get you closer to your desires. There is a saying that “Diamonds require pressure.” When you are living your life with passion and ambition, the pressure and challenges you will come across in your path are what will make you closer to diamond status. Rejection and feedback together can give you a new perspective and a new lens you might not have been able to see. Feedback may provide you with links to resources and next steps so you can know what else you can do to improve your work, relationships, and interpersonal skills. It is important though to remember that one person’s opinion does not define you and may not even be an education opinion.
Often times, feedback that is hard to hear accompanies rejection. Maybe the rejection comes without explanation. Do you have the courage to ask for feedback? If you get feedback, what does it mean to you? What are things you want to take away from the feedback and improve upon? What are things in the feedback that do not make sense to you or that you disagree with?
2. Rejection is a reflection of your desires and your courage to pursue them.
You put yourself on the line for something you desire and you have been rejected.
Yes, congratulations! You went after what you wanted (that’s not something everyone can say) and you are now in a situation where you can learn.
When you genuinely want something, you’re willing to go through a lot to make it happen. When you submit a poem to a literary magazine, apply for a job, or agree to be interviewed for a potential job – you are playing with the fire of rejection; you might get burned. If you get burned but you still want to play with that fire, you know that this thing, person, or relationship really matters to you.
3.Rejection isn’t a free pass for self-criticism.
Your self-esteem has taken a hit. Criticizing yourself after facing rejection seems inevitable, but it is not! And it is a sure way to make yourself feel miserable. Reviewing what happened and considering what you should do differently in the future is a great idea, but there is absolutely no good reason to be mean and self-critical while doing so. Thinking, “I should probably choose another song next time I have an audition,” is the start of moving forward. Thinking, “I’m such a loser!” is not.
4.Rejection is usually not personal.
During the painful aftermath of rejection, it is easy to assume the rejection is personal. That is not necessarily true! Most rejections, whether professional, social, and even romantic, are due to fit and the circumstance. The person who rejected you may consider you a wonderful person that would do a great job at being an employee, partner, or friend. Ruthlessly taking inventory of your deficiencies and flaws in an effort to understand why you were rejected is unnecessary and inaccurate.
If you have trouble facing rejection and moving forward, building up the courage to pursue your goals, or have issues with your self-esteem, consider scheduling a therapy session at The Center for Growth Inc in Center City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.