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You overcame your fear of rejection.
You finally mustered up the courage to ask someone out or pursue your dreams.
But then, you got rejected. The other person said “no”.
What do you do?
In the previous post, I talk about overcoming the fear of rejection. But overcoming your fear doesn’t mean that there won’t be any rejection and it also doesn’t mean you won’t feel hurt when you get rejected.
Rejection is part of life.
Like it or not, there will be rejection. Instead of avoiding it, why not learn how to deal with rejection and accept it? Managing rejection is part of growth. Plus, it might be a good thing after all.
Why Is Rejection Good for You?
Last year, when I recovered from depression, I was looking for a job but I was aimless. I applied for numerous jobs — counselor, data analyst, librarian, curriculum designer, etc and I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a living. The only thing I knew is I didn’t want to go back and be an accountant or an animator.
I didn’t get a reply for most of my applications. And thankfully, I didn’t! Otherwise, I would have been stuck in yet another job which I didn’t want to do.
I did have two interviews though. The first one made me realized that perhaps being around kids all day wasn’t really a good idea for an extreme introvert like me. But the second one was the wake-up call.
The interviewer told me that I should go back and be an accountant. She said love reading doesn’t make me a librarian. And I should just treat writing as a hobby.
You gain clarity from rejections.
No, that day, I didn’t go back and become an accountant. Instead, it made me realized something — I’m not meant to have a job. A job doesn’t give me the freedom I desire. It doesn’t allow me to do what I love and help the people the way I wanted to help them. It wasn’t the thing I looking for.
I realized that instead of having a job, I needed to design my life better. I needed to answer all these questions:
- How much money do I need to make so that it’s enough?
- How much time am I willing to exchange for the money?
- What can I do which I would enjoy and meet both the criteria above?
And in the end, I became a private tuition teacher. Being a tutor is great. It allows me to work 1-1 with students. It allows me to help people. Great for an introvert (INFJ) like me. The timing is also flexible. I can control how many students I want to teach and how much money I want to earn. Most importantly, now I have the time to read a lot of books and share my insights via writing.
Rejection after rejection. Yes, it may sting a little in the short run. But in the long run, it gives you more clarity on what is suitable for you. Perhaps the person you want to date badly isn’t the right person for you. Perhaps you are not meant for that job or that a certain lifestyle.
Don’t let rejection beat you down. There’s also no need to avoid rejection. What you need to learn is how to accept rejection and move on.
How to Accept Rejection and Move on After Rejection
1. Know what rejection really means.
When people don’t accept you, it doesn’t mean that you are not good. It just means that you are not the person they are seeking, be it love or employment.
Sometimes, by changing an aspect of you such as acquiring new skills or eliminating a bad habit, you could get accepted the next time around. But sometimes, you won’t get accepted even if you change.
Rejection isn’t about you. It’s about the other person.
Most of us take rejection personally. Rejection is so painful because our ego makes it so. We think we are not good enough for the other person. We think we are not qualified for the job. Everything is about us and how hurt we are by the rejection. But rejection is never about us, it’s about the other person.
Maybe the other person is not ready to accept a relationship. Perhaps the company doesn’t need an employee like you right now. Or they are just looking for someone else. Most of the time, it has nothing to do with you.
So don’t let rejection define you. Reframe rejection from your perspective to the other person’s perspective.
2. Understand your fixation.
The reason why we can’t accept rejection is that we are too attached to the outcome. We have an expectation of how things should be and we have difficulties moving on.
Whenever you can’t cope with rejection, ask yourself, “Who or what are you obsessed with?” Are you too attached to your date? Are you thinking, “She or he must be the one! No one else.” Or are you too attached to your passion and your vision? Thinking, “My life must be successful and nothing less than what I envisioned.”
The more fixated you are to a particular outcome, the more miserable you will be when you are rejected.
Allow yourself to have more than one possible outcome.
Hold your desires lightly. Like water, you can only hold it if you hold it gently. You can’t grab onto the water tightly. Once you try to possess it, it will flow out of your hands and disappear. Water, like many other things in life, is so elusive. The more you try to hold onto it, the more it slips away. Accepting rejection means letting the outcome go for now.
[Read Tao Te Ching for more insights on water and life.]
3. There’s no need to know why you are rejected.
One thing that our mind often does when we are rejected is to figure out why we are rejected. Our mind is always trying to solve problems for us. But little did it know that it actually creates more problems for us.
Yes, knowing why might make you feel better or help you change for the better. But sometimes, there’s no concrete reason why others reject you.
Knowing why doesn’t necessarily help us get accepted.
Even if you are the best person for them in a relationship or the most qualified for a job, you might not be chosen. Everyone has different preferences. It might seem logical to go for one option, but what if the other person makes a decision based on their guts or their emotions? There’s just something about accepting your request that they don’t good about.
I know some of us seek closures. If someone rejects your love, you want to know why they don’t choose you. If someone rejects your job application, you want to see the rejection letter. You want something to know what is the cause of your rejection.
But you don’t always get a “why”. Keep thinking about the cause would only make you trapped in this analytical loop.
If you really want to know why you get rejected, ask the person who rejects you. Don’t invent reasons on your own. You won’t know what the other person is thinking and our mind usually misinterprets the situation.
4. Respect other people’s decisions.
People who reject us don’t own us a “why”. They have made their choices and it’s up to us to respect their decisions.
I know there are these motivational saying, “Never give up.” and “Don’t stop trying.” But sometimes, people apply them in the wrong context.
Keep doing a thing that doesn’t work gets you nowhere.
Especially for relationships, if someone rejected you, perhaps you should stop trying. Stop trying not for your own sake, but for the other person’s sake. They have already made their decisions and yet they have to suffer because you haven’t accepted their rejection.
Being persistent about achieving what you desire doesn’t make you more desirable. In fact, it makes you more possessive and undesirable. A relationship depends on two people. It doesn’t depend only on you and how much you want it.
Respect other people’s decisions, no matter how ridiculous it may seem to you. Know when to move on. It will save you a few heartbreaks.
5. Learn from your rejections.
Rejection is feedback for growth, especially in the arena of work and business. Rejection tells you something doesn’t work. It’s an invitation to try another method or ask for help from someone else.
Don’t take one rejection to heart. Seek as many rejections you need to gain clarity and learn what needed to improve.
Successful people seek rejections.
I love the subtitle of this business book, Go for No! — Yes is the destination, No is how you get there. In this fictional story, the salesman, Eric, learned that he needed to get a certain number of “no” before he would get a “yes”. He realized he needed to get more “no” to get the “yes” he needed. So, he started striving for “no” instead of being afraid of them.
It’s a wonderful story, but it’s also applicable to non-business people or salesmen. There are many other things you can learn from rejections too. One thing you are learning here is how to accept rejection. It’s important to learn to accept that things don’t always come our way or go according to what we have planned.
[Read the book Go for No! by Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz or Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang.]
6. Take a break.
If you can’t get over or handle rejection, take a break. Take a break from the dating scene. Give yourself a break from your job search.
If it is too hard for you, just stop.
Don’t go for the next rejection even though it’s contrary to my previous point and the lessons learn in Go for No! Because in order to experience growth, you need to be ready for growth. You need to be in the state of receiving growth. Rather than drowning yourself with rejection over and over again until you get wounded, stop for a while and take care of your emotions first.
Giving yourself time to recover from the rejection before you continue. Focus on other things. Don’t dwell on being rejected. Otherwise, it might spiral down to depression.
And finally, don’t give too much power to rejections. Rejection only hurts as much as you let it.
Featured Photo Credit: look up / Petras Gagilas