Fear of rejection and putting yourself into the world limits your ability to learn and grow. Celebrating rejection, instead of fearing it, transforms the person experiencing rejection from a victim of others choices, to the courageous chooser of opportunity. You can learn to change your mindset about fearing rejection to celebrating rejection.
As with most celebrations, celebrating rejection will make you happier. And if it still sounds impossible, there are at least five practical steps that you can take to get better at being rejected. You can choose to transform your relationship with rejection to allow yourself to bravely pursue your goals as you ask hard questions, try new things, and do what matters.
Learning to change your perception of rejection is possible.
In hindsight, my fear of rejection kept me from so many possibly wonderful experiences. I didn’t apply to the Ivy League schools my friends were applying to since I was afraid of feeling embarrassed I’d be if they got in and I didn’t. I was insecure about being a first generation student and needing financial aid. When my friends got their acceptance letters and huge offers of financial aid from those deep pocket schools, I was kicking myself for creating my own limits by not applying. I decided to change my approach – instead of being to scared to try, I would rejoice at each rejection ‑‑ it would represent a notch on my belt of bravery.
Celebrating rejection will make you happier for many reasons.
Sometimes you’ll be happier since fear of rejection won’t prevent you from doing activities that bring you joy. For years I wouldn’t sing or play music in public. I was afraid of a rejection of my ability. But I love to sing. And singing with people makes us happy. Being true to yourself makes you happy, too. So, now I just laugh and try again when I squeak, or have trouble finding the pitch. I also try really hard to sit beside someone with a strong voice I can follow!
Choosing to celebrate rejection does’t take away that initial sting you feel when rejected. Depending on the situation you may feel a little disappointment, or a huge sadness that what you didn’t get what you were hoping for. That’s normal. Even though you celebrate rejection, it doesn’t mean you turn off your feelings or pretend there is no wince – be it big or little – of oh darn.
Celebrating your courage to seek the chance to get rejected puts you in the driver seat – you have Autonomy and choice about your purpose and what possibilities you will seek. You get to say “yes” to the chance to apply or seek learning from the experience. You can build resilience and your mental health by taking rejections less personally. You received a “NO” to a specific request or situation. It wasn’t a good fit. Examine the reasons you think the fit was not good if it will help you make future decisions, but rest assured that there will be more opportunities because you can create or go after them.
You may still have some hard feelings, but you may learn to bounce back more quickly in order to celebrate what you did, what you learned, and what you will do.
Celebrating rejection builds up your resilience, your happiness and your ability to find new strategies for learning.
So what strategies can you use to transform your approach to rejection?
Here are five practical strategies to use to go from fear and avoidance to joy and celebration.
1. Presence. Be mindful and present to yourself and why you are risking rejection. Journal or mediate on your desire and how you can serve. Stay rooted in your path. This option is just one of many you can pursue, just one door you can try. Stay in the moment of what you desire to create and the steps you can take, not focused on the future response of others. Feel your feelings, fear, or anxiousness, whatever they are, embrace them, release them.
2. Possibility. What can you learn? Or as I say to myself, WTF is the universe trying to teach me here? What is the possibility for learning and new adventures that is being created by this rejection. O is for Open, being open to the new paths that unfold because the other door closed.
3.Practice. Yes, the more you practice putting yourself out there and getting a “No” and giving yourself a high five the more you will know, in your body, that rejection is not terminal. One of my library volunteer colleagues is a great model for smiling in the face of rejection. She is a superb fundraiser. She doesn’t wring her hands when she has to ask for a donation and then want to crawl into a hole when someone tells her no. The first time I worked with her was so enlightening, she said, “I’m just giving them an opportunity to participate in a great mission. I don’t take a “No” personally. I don’t even see it negatively. I’m putting something positive out into the world, and that’s good.”
- Play. Use the strategy of being playful to help you keep going in the face of rejection. Play with ideas – brainstorm how many new opportunities can you imagine or create if a particular door doesn’t open for you. Play with friends – get together with others who are trying new things and celebrate your courage, rejections, and perseverance. Play the Rejection Therapy game. You can order one or make up your own. Here is a post that details the story of how it started. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/01/16/377239011/by-making-a-game-out-of-rejection-a-man-conquers-fear
- Gratitude. I know I suggest gratitude as a strategy, an antidote, a practice for so many challenges in life and learning. Why? Because it works. https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/in-praise-of-gratitude It bears repeating. It’s so simple and so easy to forget when in the thick of facing a challenge, which is why it is so helpful to cultivate a daily routine of feeling and expressing gratitude.
Transforming fear to celebration allows us to embrace our challenges and reward our courage to pursue our goals. You can learn to change your perception of rejection. Changing your relationship to being rejected will make you happier as you reconnect to your autonomy, purpose, and choice to pursue things that make you happy. Becoming aware of your attitudes and feelings, being open to learning and possibility, practicing getting rejected, and playfully connecting with new ideas and others celebrating rejection are practical ways to transform your relationship with rejection. None of us like the sting of rejection, but we can choose to focus on lifelong learning and smile as we ask hard questions, try new things, and do what matters.