"Every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better." - Dr. Steve Maraboli
Recently, I was rejected. It's not the first time I've been rejected and certainly won't be the last. However, it bothered me more than I would have expected. Why is that?
All people experience rejection, both personal and professional. You deliver a well researched and executed sales presentation - only to have it fall flat on the potential customer's ears. Maybe you make an overture of friendship to someone who shows no interest. Rejection comes in many areas and forms, and for most people, it comes in multiple doses.
Most rejections don't bother us (I didn't really expect to become the new Indiana Jones) and are easily brushed aside. Internally, well-adjusted people have an external measure of self and our ability. You aren't annoyed that you didn't get drafted to play pro-sports because you know you aren't actually operating on that level. Rejections in this category are easy. The rejection matches our, sometimes private, worldview. Our perception goes unchallenged.
Rejections that bother us are those which upend how we see ourselves and the world in which we operate.
We see the world, and our place within it, through the spectrum of our values and experiences. That's how you and I can have radically different reactions to the same objective facts. Rejections that challenge our honestly held beliefs hurt precisely because we base our experience of life around our ability to divine 'objective truth'. When this is challenged our mind reacts to the shock to our status. We are destabilized and forced to consider new truths.
So, what should you and I do in these circumstances?
Our reactions are as personal as the experiences that shape our perceptions. However, the following are some a few helpful ways to take what you can from the situation and move forward:
Allow yourself to be upset, but don't linger on the feeling. Acknowledging your feelings gives you the ability to categorize and address them. Blocked feelings never help you move forward.
Accept that the rejection was based on another individual's (or group of's) perception of objective truth, shaped by their own values and experiences. This makes them neither truly right or wrong - simply acting (as we would) based on their best appreciation of the information they processed.
See what data you can take from the decision. Is there anything in that might be helpful? Can you potentially see some areas that would be helpful for improvement? Turn the rejection into a positive by getting some personal development tasks and more information to shape your worldview.
Others suggest using the rejection to 'fuel the fire' of your future progress. Don't do this, as it focuses on the negative and stops you from truly moving forward. A better approach is to formulate a strategy for where you want to be and be inspired by the goals you will pass along the way. (I might even be able to help with that.) Focusing on the negative only creates more negativity.
Always remember that rejections are a normal part of life. Both the ones which hurt and the ones that don't. Take what you need and always keep moving forward.