Nothing stings like rejection.
I remember the first time I was turned down for a hairdressing job. Back then, I was so desperate to be part of the beauty industry, I convinced myself this job would be my foot in the door.
After a few hours of sweeping the floor and making coffees on trial day, the owner of the salon pulled me aside and told me, “You can go home now. No need to stay for the afternoon shift, too.”
I felt like I was being punched in the gut. The air left my lungs, but no words came out. I thanked her for the opportunity and quickly collected my things, running out of the salon before the tears at the corners of my eyes started flooding down my face.
I called my then boyfriend in tears. “They don’t want ME,” I said. “I’m not good enough for them.”
He tried to calm me down, asked me what their reason was for turning me down. “You can use that feedback to improve, so you’ll get the next job.”
Another punch in the gut.
I had been so crushed by the rejection, I hadn’t thought of asking the owner for feedback. I just assumed I was the worst would-be hairdresser ever and ran away.
I had made the rejection all about me.
Rejection Isn’t Personal (But It Sure Feels Like It)
I’m sure you have plenty of rejection stories. I sure do.
Maybe you showed the first chapter of your new novel to a couple of friends and they said, “We don’t like it. It’s not our thing.”
But what you heard was, “They don’t like my writing. I’m the worst writer in the world. I will never write anything good.”
Or that cute guy you had a crush on told you he wasn’t interested in you. “Sorry, girl, but you’re not my type.”
But what you’ve heard was, “I’m ugly, boring and worthless. No one will ever love me.”
Or maybe you were turned down for a job, “It was a really tough choice, but in the end we decided to go with someone with more experience than you.”
But what you heard was, “I’m good enough and never will be. There’ll always be someone with more experience than me. And I bet they’re nicer, too.”
Can you see the pattern here?
Rejection is never about your worth as a person. It’s when you read between the lines and make up stories in your mind about it that the rejection becomes personal.
Why Do We Take Rejection So Personally?
Do you remember the first time you were rejected?
Probably not. If you’re anything like me, you were too young to remember what the rejection was about. But your mind still remembers the way it felt.
Icky. Shameful. Like someone tore out your heart from your chest.
Maybe some children on the playground didn’t allow you to join in their game. Or your big sister was too busy to watch cartoons with you.
You were too little to understand what was going on. You just knew you asked for something or did a certain thing and people weren’t happy with you. Obviously, it was your fault.
Now that you’re all grown up, every rejection threatens your self-worth. You feel like that little girl again.
What Makes Rejection Worth It?
Rejection is so painful, you’re tempted to avoid it completely.
You could refuse to apply for the job you really want in case the gatekeepers turn you down.
You could avoid going to networking events and meet new friends and colleagues for fear they won’t like you.
You can keep your artworks, book manuscripts, and blogs to yourself so no one could reject them and tell you how bad they are.
But what kind of life would that be?
A gloomy life where you settle for a soul-sucking job, unfulfilling relationships and almost no time for your passions, with no way out to fulfill your potential.
I know because I did all these things for years. The only thing I got out of it was a serious case of depression. Not worth it.
You know what’s worth it? Risking rejection for doing the work you’re meant to do in this world.
Because, yes, you could fail. But what if you succeed?
Think of all the people you could help if you only started that business or wrote that book. Imagine how fulfilling your life would be if you spent every day doing what sets your soul on fire.
If you don’t go for what you want, you don’t condemn only yourself to a life of misery. You’re robbing the world of your gifts and people of the help they need – help only you can provide.
How Do You Overcome The Fear Of Rejection?
It’s one thing to say facing rejection is worth it. Doing it is a whole lot harder. But if you don’t, your dreams will always be just that – dreams.
How can you overcome the fear of rejection, so it won’t hold you back from fulfilling your life purpose and doing the work you’re meant to do in the world?
Think About What You Have To Gain
I know what you’re thinking: “If I try and get rejected, all I have to gain is a broken heart and a big dollop of self-hate.”
I hear ya. Us human beings are hard-wired to focus more on what we have to lose than what we have to gain. But what if you focused on the positive, instead?
Even if you don’t get what you want, you’ll receive valuable feedback on what to improve when you’re ready to try again.
You’ll also be exercising your rejection muscle. Every time you confront your fear, you’ll be a little less scared, a little stronger and a little braver.
With each try, you get closer to what you want.
P.S. That voice in your head that scares you with all the things that could go wrong? It’s your Inner Mean Girl talking. Click on the image below to download the “Silence Your Inner Mean Girl” cheatsheet to turn your inner critic into your biggest supporter.
What Advice Would You Give To Your Best Friend?
Picture this. Your BFF is telling you she’s just written a book and is thinking of sending it to different publishers. But she’s afraid she’ll be rejected. What would you tell her?
“You’re a horrible writer. No one will ever publish everything you write. Don’t embarrass yourself.”
Or would you support her dream? “Of course you should send it to as many publishers as you can. You’re a great writer and every publisher will be lucky to have you. And if they reject you, well, they can always give you valuable feedback on what to improve so your manuscript will be accepted next time.”
It’s easier to support other people’s dreams because you’re not the one putting yourself out there and risking feeling rejection.
But rejection is just that – a feeling. A not very pleasant one. But, like all feelings, it will come and it will go.
When giving your BFF advice, you’re aware of this. You know she’s risking the chance of getting hurt for a while for the opportunity to make her dream come true. It’s a chance work taking.
Remember that when it’s your turn to go after what you want.
Imagine Your Life If You Let The Fear Of Rejection Win
When you’re deciding whether or not to take the risk, start that business, write that book – whatever your soul calling is -, you immediately think of all the things that could go wrong and all the ways you could be rejected.
It’s all speculation, but it’s enough to scare you off and keep you playing it safe. You tell yourself you’re not ready yet and you’ll get round to it one day. Too often, that day never comes.
What you never do is imagine what your life would be like if you never took that chance in the first place. Do it now.
Think of something you want to accomplish in your life and let it go. What would you life be like if you never took that risk? Feel it, in every cell of your body.
If that something is really important to you, you’ll find the fear of rejection doesn’t hurt anywhere near as bad as not going after what you want in the first place.
Over to you, now. Do you have any tips to overcome the fear of rejection, and when was the last time you did so? Share your experience in the comments below.