Kristeen writes: Can you talk about how to handle rejection?
Disclaimer: I’m not a psychologist. What follows are my opinions based on my own experience. What you do with this information is your responsibility.
My mother didn’t love me. Not in a horrid, dramatic throw me down the outhouse hole at birth sort of way, but in a steady, corrosive, no idea what to do with me sort of way. I learned about rejection very early on. I became quite intimate with its jagged edge.
The first 39 years of life has been all about striving to figure out why. What was wrong with me that she had to reject me? How was I so different from her? How was I so the same that she couldn’t bear it? What was it? I plumbed the depths.
In so many ways, that rejection formed who I am today.
I was able to set it down as I am preparing to enter my 40th year. It had jack-all to do with me. Rejection is a lot of things: it’s perception, it’s real, it’s mostly about the one who’s doing the rejecting, it’s a gift.
I know what doesn’t work when trying to deal with rejection. They are as follows:
1. Try to nail down the exact reason you’ve been rejected. You’re not going to be able to and the amount of energy this consumes will never be returned by the answer. You may never know. It may be as simple as that the person had a really bad experience with someone wearing a yellow sweater when they were a kid and you are wearing a yellow sweater. It may be as complex as you remind them of someone who rejected them once.
2. Believe that this one rejection will destroy you. It won’t. It is just another event that you will use to shape your life and your self-perception. More times than not, it has nothing to do with anything that is in your control. All it is is information about that person.
3. Act like it doesn’t hurt. It really, really does sometimes. Be authentic. Be with the hurt of it. The rejections that hurt the most probably raise up the self-rejections you already believe. Meaning, when someone tells you that you really suck at ice hockey and it hurts, maybe you already believe that you suck at ice hockey and just didn’t want it to be so obvious. When it really hurts, that’s excellent information. It can uncover what is really important to you. Maybe being really good at ice hockey is really important to you.
4. Make someone’s rejection of you their problem. it’s not. The person may have no clue that what they did was perceived as rejection by you. Depending on the intimacy of the relationship, this may never even need to be broached with the person who had rejected you. If it is a relationship of intimacy, let the person know that you feel rejected. Let them know specifically what your experience of rejection was with them. Then, do some detective work and figure out what rejection earlier in your life triggered this reaction. Let them know what that was, depending on the intimacy of the relationship, so that it’s clear to both people that something older is happening there.
5. Insist that rejection with commonality has nothing to do with you. I think of this in more of a professional way, but it can be applied to personal relationships, as well. If you keep going for a certain type of job and keep being denied, it’s time to recuperate. Maybe it’s not the right domain for you. Maybe your resume needs work. Maybe it’s because you’re projecting that it’s not what you really want.
This is what does work with rejection:
1. View it as a gift. Something is being told to you. If you see rejection everywhere, do some thinking. Why is that? What part of you believes that you deserve it? If rejection comes from the same person over and over, take the hint. There are other people on the planet. Lots of them. If rejection is professional, rejoice! Another avenue is waiting for you.
I hope this helps!