Most stages in life bring different opportunities and situations where you’ve got to put yourself out there and be vulnerable. There’s a reason you probably shudder at the thought of these experiences—they all come with a reasonable chance of rejection, but did you ever stop to think, why should you care?
Last week, I submitted the first chapter of my manuscript to a small press publishing company. This was not the first time that I had submitted my work to a publisher or an agent but this time I was excited. I had a good feeling about these smaller companies, I thought they’d be more open-minded to my book Kristen. Sure enough, I got a response back, but it wasn’t what I had hoped for. It was a thank you letter from the agent, thanking me for querying but was neither interested in my idea or genre. The agent ended the letter by asking me to start writing my second book.
As a writer, I know that rejection is inevitable, but that doesn’t make it less painful. After receiving twenty or so rejections, it’s quite easy to want to give up. But in the world of traditional publishing, I have to remember that it’s just business. These days agents and publishers are heavily favoring platforms over content because they want to leverage the author’s existing marketing platform.
People often say the key to success is being yourself but as soon as you think outside the box you’re instantly met with opposition. Well, that’s, okay. New ideas are the seeds of innovation, and you can’t let someone’s opinion get in your way. Just ask, E.L. James, J.K. Rowling, Dr.Seuss, Agatha Christie, Alice Walker, C.S Lewis, Stephen King, and just about every single best-selling author you can think of about how it feels to be rejected.
We all have to face rejection at one time or another. It’s an inevitable fact of life, dealing with failure and disappointments. Maybe you were shot down by someone you asked out on a date or didn’t get the promotion at work. It hurts. And I’m sure a lot of us have been through something similar, but how you deal with rejection reflects back on your character. The way you choose to handle the less-than-ideal situations in life is important. Though it may be hard, and your self-esteem has taken a hit here are a few ways to cope with rejection:
1. Accept the answer
Do you think you have a great idea and you’ve been shot down multiple times? When this happens your first instinct may be to try and convince the person to say yes instead. But it’s best to respect and accept the answer that they’ve given to you.
I’ve come to understand that the right kind of no, isn’t a no. It’s a; I learned what doesn’t work or it’s a no, for now. What it means is that the person that I had described my projects to either was the wrong person or given their world view did not believe in my idea.
2. Distance yourself from the situation
Have you ever experienced a truly difficult type of rejection? Did you step away and try to calm yourself down or did you move ahead and try to deal with things right away. Research suggests that stepping away from a problem to tend to your emotional needs is a healthy coping mechanism. This kind of healthy distance also helps reduce the possibility of intrusive thoughts. Let’s say, I was rejected over the phone or computer, then I’ll take a break from my electronics. I’ll move into a different room than the one I got the news in or take a walk outside. If there’s a time that I can’t physically leave then I’ll try to mentally distance myself from the rejection by focusing my energy on a project or task until I can find somewhere private to process my emotions.
3. Allow yourself to feel
That might sound obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many people don’t take the time to assess their feelings. Why are you upset? Why do you feel like a failure? It’s important to let yourself feel your emotions even if you think that you might be over-reacting. Long-term emotional suppression can lead to emotional repression and can increase stress and possibly depression. Everyone has different levels of emotional resiliency and their reactions to certain situations depend on the state of their mental health and other life factors. I know for me that a harsh rejection only builds my resilience. I give myself about ten minutes to process the information, then I move on.
4. Spend time with people you trust
Have you ever felt hurt or lost after dealing with rejection? Did talking to someone that you trust help you navigate your feelings better? Spending time with people who think like you such as innovators like yourself, can help boost your self-esteem and get you out of your head. Especially, if your experiencing self-doubt after a bad rejection. Like-minded people understand that with each of the ideas that they work on to develop, requires a long period of time to get from the concept to the invention, they recognize that persistence and working diligently is how you get there.
5. Get out of your head
Do you have a favorite instrument that you like to play? Or writing in your favorite journal? Or reading something educational? Do you enjoy exercising? Doing something you love can help distract you from the thoughts of rejection and helps remind you that your life has more value than just this recently missed opportunity. It’s easy to equate your worth with your job, work, significant other, or personal success. When you do something that brings you joy, it helps you focus on the other aspects of yourself. Revisit an old abandoned hobby or pick up a new one.
6. Practice self-care
Self-care is a great way to rebuild your self-confidence if your self-esteem has taken a hit due to rejection. Rejection may have you doubting your competency or your worth. Self-care looks like different things depending on who you are. Self-care is often portrayed as cutesy, feel-good things, like shopping and a bubble bath. And while these feel-good things can certainly help, self-care also includes taking care of your body. Eat at regular times, drink plenty of water, and work-out regularly to release feel-good endorphins.
7. Work on yourself
Self-reflection usually follows a rejection. If the person, group, or person who rejected you gave you constructive criticism look it over and consider incorporating some of their advice into your next idea, request, or application. If they didn’t offer any feedback then let it go. It’s clear that they may not understand or appreciate your concepts, and trying to get them to understand may turn into a negative experience for you.
But being the underdog does not mean you have a bad idea. Sometimes the most brilliant ideas will run the steepest resistance, so hold your ground and do your best to weather the storm because if the idea is truly disruptive then someday it will find its home.
8. Learn from the experience
Despite the pain of rejection, there is something always to be learned from them. Even if it’s just adding them to the list of things that you’ve survived and worked through then so be it. Maybe you’ll learn that you weren’t ready for the opportunity yet and you need to develop yourself, your skills, and your education further before trying again. Or maybe you find out who in your life is there to support you during hard times.
Rejection is never personal. Yet our connotation of the word rejection has become so negative that some fear the very thought of it. But that’s not to say that it can’t be turned around easily if we keep working diligently towards our dreams.
So make it happen.
Go out and leverage any concept that you have into a viable success.