Overcoming rejection isn’t easy.
But then again, neither are creativity and entrepreneurism.
A big part of the problem is the lifelong insulation many people have had from negative feelings.
Parents have the understandable desire to project their children from negative feelings.
However, this can lead to people who haven’t developed a thick skin for rejection.
When we’re not used to something, we make it a bigger deal than it is in our minds. We add layers of psychological power to the unknown thing. In this case rejection.
The best way to overcome rejection is to go through it. To realize that it won’t kill you. To realize there is an abundant world, full of people and opportunity, meaning no single thing should have that much power over you.
Rejection is inevitable. How you respond to it is down to you.
Read on to discover four key mindset shifts to help you make the most of overcoming rejection.
There Is No Failure, Only Feedback
Often, rejection itself isn’t the problem.
It’s the story we tell ourselves about the rejection which hurts us.
People sometimes equate their outcomes with their identity.
For example, imagine you failed a test, or had some other form of academic setback.
For too many people, it’s easy to make the leap from “I have failed” to “I am a failure”.
The exact same principle applies with rejection.
So how can you tell yourself a better story about rejection to come out the other side as productively as possible?
- Realize that rejection can be helpful. For example, imagine you applied for a job, but didn’t get it. This is valuable! You can ask for pointers about how to improve. You’ve gained experience which will make your next interview next daunting. You have an ‘in’ at that company. If you focus on the rejection, rather than the positives, you neglect to take a balanced view of how things truly are.
- Your core identity hasn’t been rejected. Sometimes, we take things to heart too quickly. Imagine you had asked someone out for dinner but were turned down. This person doesn’t know you on any deep level. Therefore, they didn’t reject the true you, they rejected their limited perception of you.
- Rejection can fuel you. Depending on your personality, rejection might sting. However, if you’re smart, you can use that sting is motivation. Whenever you lose motivation, recall the sting of rejection to inspire you to take action.
The first key mindset shift for overcoming rejection is to usefully reframe it as feedback. Don’t take the rejection to heart. Instead, be thankful for what it’s taught you and move forward.
Rejection Means You Took Action
The biggest problem for most people isn’t a lack of information.
Most of us know the things we need to do to be healthy, wealthy, and happy.
Instead, the problem is a lack of consistent action.
People have a long list of ‘shoulds’ but very few ‘musts’.
The deck is also stacked against people. Social media companies and entertainment organizations are equipped with powerful psychological weapons designed to monopolize your attention and monetize your personal data.
We live in a world of critics, of people seeking validation through social media likes and retweets.
Based on that context, rejection actually makes you one of the winners.
- Most people will never get rejected. Why? Most people will never get as far as the rejection stage! Most people think about doing something but never actually do it. Think about ‘aspiring authors’ for example. So many people tell themselves they would love to write a book. A minority of those actually start writing it. A minority of the writers actually finish it. An even smaller minority of the finishers actually submit the book to the point where it gets rejected. See? By getting that far, you are a massive action taker.
- Rejection is actually good for you. This sounds weird. Perhaps even a little masochistic. However, it’s the total truth. You know how chefs have fingers like iron? Or how guitarists have tough skin? That didn’t happen overnight. Rejection is your psychological equivalent. Over time, each little painful rejection will toughen you up until you’re as resilient as you need to be.
- Rejection means you can help others. If you’ve been rejected, you can offer empathy, as opposed to mere sympathy, when someone else you care about goes through rejection.
This is the second key mindset for overcoming rejection. The actual act of being rejected makes you a tougher and more empathetic person. It therefore has value in and of itself.
So What? Someone’s Waiting!
There’s an old saying in the world of sales, often abbreviated to ‘SW,SW,SW,SW’.
What does this mean?
‘Some will, some won’t, so what, someone’s waiting’.
There’s actually a lot of wisdom contained in this saying!
Let’s unpack it.
- The first useful truth for overcoming rejection comes from the acknowledgement that things are out of our control. We can handle everything in our power, be the best we can be, and still get rejected. Accepting this is a great stress reliever as it removes the burden of being affected by things outside of our control.
- How true is ‘so what’? We should aim to be stoic. Someone said no? So what. Someone said yes? So what. Being unaffected by things is a key part of success.
- Perhaps the most powerful part of the saying is its final section, ‘someone’s waiting’. This keeps us focused on the future and not dwelling on rejection. You didn’t close a deal? Make the next call, someone is waiting for your offer! Someone turned you down romantically? Get back out there, someone is waiting for you if you’re willing to seek them out!
The ‘SW’ phrase is a powerful way to move forward after rejection. Instead of becoming too dejected or too passive, it instills a sense of urgency to move forward and seek the next opportunity.
Rejection As A Roadmap
So far, we’ve explored the logical truth of rejection, considered how people who get rejected are actually in the minority of action-takers, and contemplated the need to be stoic and forward facing.
So what’s left?
The larger role rejection can play in your journey.
Broadly speaking, you can respond to rejection in one of three ways:
- Change goal
- Same goal, different route
- Same goal, same route
Too many people see rejection as the equivalent of a door being slammed shut in their face.
In actual fact, it’s more like three doors opening in front of them at the same time.
So how can you choose which door to walk through?
- Change goal. Sometimes, rejection is a good indication to change track. Perhaps you no longer want the same things you did when you started a course of action that ended in rejection. Perhaps there are other opportunities in your horizon. As long as you do so from a place of logical contemplation rather than knee-jerk reaction, changing your goal can be a wise response to rejection.
- Same goal, different route. Rejection should always cause you to reflect. To look back on what’s happened and consider why. Sometimes, in doing this, you will realize you still want the same goal, but you pursued it the wrong way. For example, you might still want a certain type of job, but you realize that approaching your interview differently might be more likely to get you there. Rejection can be a valuable opportunity to come up with a better plan of action.
- Same goal, same route. At first, this might sound a little strange. After all, isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing but expecting a different outcome? In actual fact, there are plenty of times when you had the right plan of action, but were unable to execute it well enough. Perhaps it needed more time and more effort.
The next time you experience rejection, please don’t get dejected. Picture the three doors opening in front of you. Be thankful for the chance to contemplate three potentially excellent courses of action.
Overcoming Rejection – Final Thoughts
Thank you sincerely for checking out Destroy The Fear’s thoughts on overcoming rejection.
In summary, the four key takeaways are:
- Rejection offers you valuable feedback.
- It’s better to take action and get rejected than to not take action.
- Be stoic and focus on the future in light of rejection.
- Rejection gives you the chance to stop and consider three courses of action.
We’d really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts on overcoming rejection.
What have you found helpful in the past? What’s the worst way you’ve ever handled rejection?
Let’s continue the discussion in the comments!