Written by: Charneise Alston, M.Ed
No matter how it is served, the bite of rejection is always hurtful. Rejection causes emotional pain that lingers with the memory of the experience. The feelings from being rejected range from slight discomfort to anger depending on how a person copes with disappointment. In addition, rejection can have damaging effects if not handled with a healthy outlook. I believe that there are two types of attitudes that result from rejection, positive and negative. At different times in my life, I have possessed both attitudes and have seen first-hand how perspective influences perception.
My goal is to help you identify which attitude you generally hold after being rejected and to encourage you to welcome rejection. I know, it’s an incongruous, contradictory concept. Why in the world would I want to welcome rejection? Although it may sound absurd, I hope to show you from my life experiences why it is necessary for growth.
When I possessed a negative attitude towards rejection, I would struggle with moving past disappointment. I often found myself revisiting the pain by rehearsing the rejection. Somehow, I believed that I needed a logical explanation to help me understand why I was being denied something or someone I desired. The truth of the matter is that no explanation soothes the pain of rejection if you have a negative attitude towards rejection. Your pride cannot rationalize why you were passed over because it thrives off of the euphoric feeling of achievement and success. And if not put in check, your pride will have you deep in your feelings wallowing in the pain of being denied.
Have you ever thought that you were a shoo-in for a promotion or a job position? You have the required experience and education, your interview skills are decent, you may even know the right people, and you feel like the vacant position is custom-made for you which all confirms that it must be fate, right? Then you receive the bad news via telephone call or letter by mail notifying you that you were not chosen for the desired promotion or position. Your high hopes are instantly deflated, your confidence is bruised, you feel slightly embarrassed because you prematurely told people about the opportunity, and you are left completely baffled trying to figure out what went wrong.
When you have a positive attitude about rejection, it doesn’t become personal. You understand that with every risk there is a 50 percent chance that it might not turn out in your favor. When you possess a positive attitude, rejection makes you resilient. You do not end your pursuit for career advancement, you keep searching and applying for new opportunities. You accept that maybe you weren’t the right fit for the position or environment and you persevere.
Let me paint another scenario, have you ever attempted to apply for a loan but was rejected because of your credit? When I graduated from undergraduate school, I wanted to reward myself for completing college by buying a car. At the time, I owned a car that was bought for me by an ex-boyfriend. After the relationship ended, I wanted to liberate myself by purchasing my very own vehicle. I was intoxicated by the rush of independence as I floated into the car dealership to make my purchase. After hours of sitting in various vehicles, I finally set my eyes on a silver Lexus and proceeded to visualize myself driving out of the car lot in my brand new car.
Well to my surprise, I was rejected when attempting to finance the car because of my credit. I didn’t understand why I was denied because I deliberately avoided credit cards in fear that I would be irresponsible with repayments. The car dealership owner saw my perplexed facial expression and explained that I had no credit as a recent college graduate. He further disclosed that having no credit was equivalent to having bad credit. That particular disappointment fueled my desire to learn about financial freedom and the importance of maintaining excellent credit.
I left that dealership with a positive attitude about rejection and made a plan on how to establish credit. Now let me be clear, having a positive attitude does not numb you from the pain of disappointment. There is always a sting that follows rejection but you do not have to allow your emotions to dictate your behavior. I did not bust the windows or flatten the tires of that silver Lexus out of spite. The rejection redirected my focus onto the preliminary work that needed to be done to qualify for the loan. I didn’t blame the system and make excuses for the “real reason” why I was rejected. There was no conspiracy, I allowed the experience to educate me about attacking the goal from a different angle.
Rejection is so common that there are endless examples of how we encounter rejection in different contexts. I would be remiss not to acknowledge the prevalence of rejection in our quest for love. The complex nuances of dating can have you completely blindsided by rejection. Just when you think that you have met someone whom you would like to get to know, the chemistry is present, the conversations are consistent and filled with substance, the interest and intentions are expressed, and you feel yourself becoming hopeful about love only to have the momentum come to an unexpected, screeching halt. Maybe you were “ghosted” (a person of interest abruptly ends all contact without notice or explanation), maybe the person lost interest, or maybe the person wanted different things, regardless of the reason the resounding echo of rejection is loud and clear. Move on, don’t try to figure it out.
Unfortunately, many people tend to have a negative attitude towards rejection when it comes to social relationships. As a result, they tend to be self-critical, find fault in themselves, and wound their self-esteem. “Am I not attractive enough? What did I say or do that was a turn-off? I don’t know if I’ll ever find love.” The negative self-talk which often results from rejection is unhealthy. Change the narrative by combating negative self-talk with positive affirmations. What are you affirming about yourself and your future? Every morning, I enjoy reading and declaring positive affirmations to strengthen my self-esteem which also helps mitigate the pain of rejection.
It is imperative that you have a positive attitude about rejection by understanding that it is simply a fact of life. There is no need to dwell on what could’ve, should’ve, or would’ve been, acknowledge the disappointment and let it go. Sometimes we seek explanations to make the pill easier to swallow but the truth is that you are in control of your emotions. Emotional maturity is being able to take a loss because you know that losing is part of the formula for success.
Therefore, do not take it personal when someone rejects you, thank them instead. Do not force yourself into spaces that you are not supposed to exist. The wrong job, the wrong relationship, the wrong house, the wrong car, the wrong business venture, the wrong team, the wrong school, the wrong time, or the wrong decision carries problems that you were never meant to experience. I truly believe that rejection is protection from an unnecessary life lesson. When you understand the shield of rejection, you will welcome it with open arms. In closing, rejection will have you feeling either motivated or devastated, so decide which attitude you want to possess as you continue through life’s journey.
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“I have learned not to allow rejection to move me. “