5 Steps for Moving Past Rejection
Rejection hurts. It doesn’t matter how politely it’s done or with how much kindness. Being told “no thanks” is still a painful thing. Even those of us who have developed a thick skin—coping with rejection better be in your toolbox if you’re a writer—will still experience plummeting disappointment in our bellies when something on which we expended time and energy receives a pass. Oh, we may shrug, smile, and say, “Hakuna Matata,” but deep down it hurts like . . .
This isn’t one of those posts that lists a bunch of famous people who were rejected before making it big. If you want to read a post like that, go here: http://time.com/money/4874361/10-highly-successful-people-on-the-times-they-got-rejected/
No, indeed. This post is about how to get past the hurt in a way that allows you to turn the rejection into fuel to keep going. Because the simple Naked Truth is that if you stop now, you’ll never know if you ended your efforts prematurely. If you stop now, you’ll never know if you were just shy of the acceptance for which you struggled and worked. So instead of using rejection as an excuse to step back or stop, here are five ways to use the rejection as impetus to take those next steps forward.
- Accept: Allow yourself to accept your feelings of disappointment and the chaos of other emotions accompanying it. You’re human, and disappointment and all that it entails are proof that you’re alive. This is also proof that you’re working toward something, and in spite of setbacks, the working toward deserves to be celebrated. Remind yourself that disappointment, as much as it sucks, isn’t defeat. As long as you’re still breathing, aim for your goal. Accept what you’re feeling, cut yourself some slack, and practice self-care, whatever that means for you. For one person it might be a spa visit for a mani/pedi and to another it’s feet up on the couch watching a Law & Order marathon in between bouts of head-diving into a bag of potato chips. Also, eat some chocolate.
- Examine: Examine the rejection and whether or not the takeaway lessons hold value. I received two rejections on the same manuscript. Examining both, I ignored the first and jumped on the second. The first rejection said only, “This story wasn’t character driven enough for me.” The second rejection letter detailed where and why there were pacing issues and offered suggestions for revision. The first rejection was disappointing because I know my stories are character driven. I write them that way. But the second rejection, the one that focused on the pacing of my story? Right on top of that one. See, if I’m telling the Naked Truth here—and I always do—I knew the manuscript had a problem but couldn’t put my finger on it. That second rejection offered true insights. The problem was pacing. Why didn’t I see that before? I could’ve cried in my chardonnay over the setback, but why? The rejection provided me with needed feedback. Also, I ate some chocolate.
- Share: Talk to someone you trust. This one is a lot more fun if wine and chocolate are involved, but choose your own bliss, buttercup. 🙂 Talking about the rejection, how you feel about it, what you’re going to take away from it, and how you plan to continue to work toward your goal is not only a fine way to get all that negativity out of your head but may also help you perform an honest review. When that rejection is stuck inside our souls it is easy for it to grow into unmanageable proportions: “I suck. I’m a terrible writer (singer, actor, basket weaver). I shouldn’t even be doing this. I’m wasting my time.” Recognize that? I’m pretty certain we all do it after a hard rejection. But keep that nastiness inside for too long and you might convince yourself to give up. Talking about it in a rational way helps put it into perspective, and if the person you’re sharing with is a good sounding board, you’ll come away happier, healthier, and armed with a plan of attack to help you see things in a more enlightened way. Also, there might be some leftover chocolate. Nibble on that.
- Action: Create an action plan. By this I do not mean plotting the earthly demise of the person who rejected you. It wouldn’t do to get caught with a folder full of “how to commit murder without getting caught” clippings. Unless you’re a writer, ‘cuz then it’s research.
What I mean by action plan is just that: your plan to move forward to earn your goal. If you’ve followed steps 1-3 above, this one should be a breeze. The reason for creating an action plan is twofold. First, it gives you something to focus on besides the emotional fallout from the rejection. Second, it is a new stepping stone on your path to success. Did you use something derived from the rejection itself to create your action plan? So much the better, because now you’ve chiseled the rejection into a tool at your command. You turned it into something useful. There is confidence built into that. And don’t forget to eat some chocolate!
- Work: Work toward your goal. You saw that one coming, didn’t you? Rejection is painful. That’s a fact. But more painful than rejection is regret. When you look back on your journey—whatever it may be for you personally—resolve to leave no room for regret. The pain of rejection will pass. It will be consumed by the power created from the efforts you took to hurdle over it. There is power in (1) acceptance, power in (2) examination, power in (3) sharing, power in (4) action, and power in (5) working toward a goal. Power, buttercup. Yours for the making and taking.
Your only defeat comes in letting the rejection own you, so don’t.
And eat chocolate. That helps too!
Note: Phenylethylamine (PEA) is found in chocolate. This is the same chemical created by your brain when you’re falling in love. No joke! It coaxes your brain to release those endorphins that make you feel great. If you don’t like chocolate, well . . . puppy kisses are a solid alternative.
If you’re dealing with rejection, I hope this post serves as encouragement. Please don’t give up something you’re working for just because of rejection. If you stop striving for something, be sure your decision is clear-headed. Rejection causes emotional upheaval and can really gum things up. Don’t let it.
How do you cope with rejection? Has there ever been an instance when a rejection turned out to be a good thing in the long run? Please share in the comments.
Thanks for hanging out with me! See you next Wednesday.
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