“Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”
“Most fears of rejection rest on the desire for approval from other people. Don’t base your self-esteem on their opinions.”
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
In this week’s article I’d like to look back into the past.
Back to the time when I was single.
It was a period when I faced rejection a lot of the time.
Which was actually a step forward for me. Because before that I spent much of my time totally avoiding situations where I could be rejected.
But still, being rejected hurt.
So I’d like to share a handful of habits and reminders that I learned during those years. They helped me to lessen the sting of rejection and still do when I get rejected in other ways.
1. Take some time to process it instead of forcing a smile on your face.
Trying to force optimism or to move forward when you are still in an emotional turmoil or a bit shocked usually don’t work that well.
So first just take a bit of time to process the thoughts and feelings that arise when you’ve been rejected.
At first it will likely hurt. Maybe a bit. Maybe a lot.
That’s OK. Just be with those feelings and thoughts instead of trying to push them away.
Because if you do, if you let them in and accept that they are there then it will go faster and in the long run be less painful to process what’s happened. At least in my experience.
If you on the other hand try push it all away then those emotions tend to pop up at unexpected times and can make you moody, angry or pessimistic.
2. Focus on what you still have in your life.
Take some time for the thoughts that arose. But don’t get stuck in dwelling and in dragging yourself down into an ocean of self-doubt and negativity.
Instead, shift your focus to what you actually still have in your life. The people, the passions or hobbies, the sometimes taken for granted things like a roof over your head and that you don’t have to go hungry.
Tapping into gratitude like this helps me to put what happened into perspective and to not let it overwhelm me.
3. Don’t think it’s all about you.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking there is something wrong with you if you for example don’t get a second date.
But not everything is about you.
The other person may have his or her own self-doubts. Or things from the past he or she has not moved on from yet. Or that person may simply be looking for something or someone else than you.
That’s just how life is. So see if you can learn something from the situation but don’t put everything that happens on yourself.
4. Be constructive and focus on what you can learn.
As I mentioned above, not everything is about you if you get rejected. And getting rejected is just a part of a life well lived, of a life where you go outside of your comfort zone.
But at the same time be honest with yourself to increase the chances of success and reduce the risk of rejection in the future.
Maybe there’s something you can improve about your interview skills when you’re at a job interview? Or about your conversation skills or ability to keep it relaxed and positive when you’re on a date? That was at least the case for me with all of those things.
Two questions that helped me to get into a constructive headspace a while after rejection are:
What’s one thing I can learn from this?
What’s one thing I can do differently the next time?
Maybe these questions will give you an idea or two. Or maybe they sometimes won’t.
But I’m at least glad that I’ve taken a couple of minutes with them after my setbacks and rejections because they have often helped me to make progress and to improve many parts of my life.
5. Remember: this is temporary, not permanent (if you keep going).
When you’ve been rejected then you may start thinking that this permanent. That you’ll always fail in this area of life and get pushed away.
Don’t get seduced by such a destructive thought and potentially self-fulfilling prophecy.
Instead, remind yourself of these two things:
Just because you got rejected today at a date or a job interview doesn’t mean you’ll get rejected in a similar situation next week (even if it might feel like that right now).
The truth is that this just a temporary situation and it won’t last for the rest of your life if you keep moving forward step-by-step, keep learning and it doesn’t label you as a failure (so don’t put that label on yourself).
6. Strengthen your self-esteem.
A self-esteem toolbox filled with helpful thought habits and strategies won’t make you invincible to rejection or any other negative situation.
But it makes you stronger. It makes you less vulnerable to what others may think or say about you. It makes more things bounce off you. Instead of them dragging you deeper and deeper down.
And with kinder self-talk that is actually helpful it’s easier to stay constructive and learn something you can use in the future and to keep going forward (compared to if you beat yourself up for weeks or get lost in a moody funk).
7. Keep going.
Process what’s happened, learn what you can but don’t let the rejection stop you for too long. Don’t let it get you stuck for weeks or months.
With a focus on what you still got in life (that many in the world don’t have), on what you can maybe do differently and with your attention on your opinion of yourself and what you actions you can take keep moving forward.
Even if it’s by just taking one small step at first.