Today I was subtly punched in the gut by rejection. On the off chance that the giver of said metaphorical punch reads this blog, I’ll keep the nature of my rejection description vague; I offered my services in a given area, to someone I know quite well, and received an 100 word, 1 word answer, ‘no.’ I had to read the ‘no’ multiple times before the gut punch fully landed; like I said, it was subtle.
The title of this post, ‘Finding Courage In Rejection,’ is not indicative of how I felt when it first hit me that I was being rejected, I felt the opposite of courageous; I felt deflated. Because I can occasionally be an emotional extremist I also felt foolish, naïve, totally bummed, and dare I say stupid about ever “putting myself out there” in the first place. Mind you, this stupid-bummed-ness only lasted a few moments, because I’m a veteran of rejection.
Back to the rejection at hand, I received my ‘no,’ and commenced my seven stages of rejection grief; shock that my earnest attempt to provide a service had been shut down, denial (‘did they mean to send this rejection to me?’,) bargaining with myself in regards to whether I was going to submit myself to more constructive angst and ask the rejecter why they rejected me, guilt that I was so wrapped up in this rejection when there are much bigger real problems in the world, anger (directed at self,) depression (‘what’s the point, I guess I should just give up,) and acceptance of the fact that I had been rejected, it ‘is what it is,’ and I needed to move on.
But today, something interesting happened, a stage was added to the process that served to inflate my previously mentioned deflated gut, courage. The rejection made me feel courageous! My eventual logic behind this newfound courage was as follows, ‘If I can be brave, reach out, and again, “put myself out there,” with the very real possibility of being rejected, get rejected, and survive (without turning into a pile of binge reality TV watching melted ice cream,) I could likely move through anything, and live to blog about the tale.’
I felt courageous, and still feel courageous. In the past, although I’ve successfully licked my wounds, inflated my gut with some carbs, and climbed back on that bucking proverbial horse, I never felt stronger after rejection, I just felt, ‘eh okay.’ It would take me awhile to risk the chance of rejection again, and although I would stick my heels in the sand to avoid regression, I wasn’t progressing, I was stuck in the sand, and occasionally had my head stuck in it as well.
Because I like lists, and need something somewhat tangible to lean on when I inevitably get socked by rejection again, I’ve made a ‘How to Find Courage in Rejection’ list!
I usually stop breathing for a few minutes after receiving a rejection, and although the dizzy high I experience from lack of oxygen can be fun, I can’t afford to lose those brain cells. Oh, and conscious breathing helps promote relaxation and clarity. Inhale for a count of 10, hold for 5, exhale to a count of 10. Rinse and repeat.
- Don’t Take it Personally.
“The wise ones” would tell me “don’t take it personally,” when I experienced rejection in the past. That someone could utter such a preposterous notion that someone wasn’t telling you they thought you were incompetent, stupid, and of course ugly when they rejected you, was beyond me. Of course that’s what they meant, right?
Then one day, a wise woman asked, ‘How do you feel when you reject someone?’ Hmm, how do I feel? I certainly don’t think the person is incompetent, stupid, and ugly, with the exception of that one ex-boyfriend… kidding! She posed a whopper of a question. The times I’ve been on the giving end of the punch of rejection, I’m embarrassed to say I was thinking more of myself than the other person, even when the rejection was personal, versus professional. I wasn’t thinking much of the other person’s worth, capabilities, or appearance, I was thinking about what I needed in the moment, and if what they were offering served those immediate needs. Or maybe there were extenuating circumstances that caused the rejection. Point being, I’ve never rejected someone because of a flaw in who they were, or what they were capable of, I was just thinking of what I needed in my own life, in that instance; not personal.
Keep a ‘Yes’ List. Have you ever had someone spend 30 minutes telling you how amazing you are, and 1 minute telling you what you could do to be even more amazing? Then, you go home and obsess over how they spent 60 seconds giving you constructive criticism that your mind warped into, ‘You totally suck!’?
Why oh why is it so easy for us to harp on the negative and allow the positive to get sucked out our open window?
To combat this crazy-making phenomenon in my own life, I created a ‘Yes’ list a few years ago. On this list I record every last tiny-itty-bitty-titty ‘yes’ I’ve ever received. The ‘yes’ could have been a verbal yes, a metaphorical yes in the form of an accomplishment, an internal yes, or any other ‘yes-esque’ occurrence that made me feel great. Now, when I receive a ‘no,’ a rejection, a dose of constructive criticism, I look at my ‘Yes’ list after following my two aforementioned steps. You know what? It works every time, it reminds me that for every ‘no,’ I’ve likely had about 346 ‘Oh Yeahs!’ It’s like taking a yummy prescription perspective pill.
Learn from it. Yeah yeah, it’s trite to say ‘learn from it,’ but what’s the point if you don’t learn from the rejection? If everything was always hunky-dory and we were having a constant stream of smoke blown up our bottom, or incessant smooches to the tush, we wouldn’t really be growing would be? We’d be stuck, and would probably have a sore butt. Rejection, ‘no,’ and bummer-ness happens, and if we’re open to it, it can be the greatest source of growth, insight, and my favorite, courage. When we’re able to find the lesson in rejection it’s transformed from a source of forlorn to positive reform. The thrill we receive from acceptance is wonderful, but short-lived. The growth, insight, and courage we can absorb from rejection can imbed itself within us for a lifetime. The cool thing is, the more rejection we receive, the more we grow, and the more we grow, the more acceptance we attract. And with more acceptance comes the opportunity for much more rejection, isn’t that great?!
What did I gain from the rejection that inspired this post? A desire to increase my qualifications in a given area, do more research, get more practice, and get creative in how I elicit more ‘YES!’
Join with me in simultaneously giving rejection a big middle finger and a squishy bear hug, because yeah it sucks, but can also make us strong like bull.