How rejection helps you create what you always wanted
Rejection has positive power, let’s learn how to use it!
Rejection is tough, we are pre-programmed not to like it, to be scared of it and to let it gnaw away at us. But what if we could re-frame it? What if rejection was a gift to be grateful for? It’s my strong belief that it can be and in this blog I explore why we should challenge negative emotions around rejection.
I am an advocate for creative living, not just in my creative pursuits like painting, but also for creating the life I long for. Creation requires opportunity. We can grab those opportunities that come along and we can create our own, but we can also flip obstacles into opportunity too.
When Oprah was fired from being a newsreader because she couldn’t disconnect her emotion from the story, she went on to use that obstacle as her unique opportunity. She has used that to create a hugely successful business and inspiring worldwide community.
It’s worth taking the time to re-frame rejection. Did you know that rejection fires up the same brain pathways as physical pain? And we hang on to it longer and remember it more vividly? So how would it feel for you to be rid of that?
Here are some reasons why rejection can lead to even more creation.
Rejection is someone else’s perception, not yours.
So if that’s true it’s not real right? Well at least not real in the sense that it can’t be changed or seen from a different perspective. So yes, it may be a fact that you are not qualified to be a brain surgeon, but what if you added ‘yet’? You aren’t qualified to be a brain surgeon yet?
When you allow the rejection from someone else to stop you, you are buying into their belief system. So next time someone tells you no, you can say to yourself “that’s their perception, but mine is yes.”
Unbelievably Walt Disney was told he lacked imagination. He went on to imagine and create the most magical brand of all time.
Believing in rejection gives away your personal power.
When you jump into believing the reasons why someone is rejecting you, you give away all your personal power. You take their opinion and turn it into fact about yourself. “I’m not good enough”, “I’m a bad husband/wife”, “I’m unreliable” and all that other nonsense.
Hold on to your personal power by treating rejection as feedback not fact. Ask yourself, what can I learn from this? Where can I develop? Instead of labelling yourself as an unreliable person, maybe take away that you have over-committed and don’t really stand a chance of being anywhere on time, or that you don’t actually want to be there and so avoid it subconsciously.
Seriously, you will be amazed when you accept the feedback but retain your power. Holding on to that power means you don’t label yourself as a ‘type’ of person. You look at your behaviour, your motivations and make changes.
I have been divorced twice. I carried a lot of ‘“I’m not good enough”, “I’m not who they wanted me to be”, “I was a crap wife”. It was heavy and sad and worst of all unnecessary. I realised that I had behaviours I could change (if I chose to). I could learn from the reason my marriages broke up, but it didn’t define me as a person.
Rejection helps fire up your strive and survive instinct.
Basically because it pisses us off. Rejection has been identified by the US Surgeon General as a bigger potential trigger for adolescent violence than drugs. So I’m not saying get so angry that you lash out, what I am saying is take that spark of anger energy and convert it to positive action.
If you look at rejection as a learning experience it stops that cocky attitude from ruining our chances too. On one hand you can look at the learning and feedback rationally, then on the other, use the fuel of your emotion to prompt positive action.
I recently put my artwork forward for an art festival. I didn’t get selected. I didn’t get specific feedback from the panel but I did think what can I learn from this? My learning was that someone had looked at and appreciated my work, that maybe I wasn’t right this time for the festival, but as their letter said, that’s no reason not to apply again. I learnt that I need some more real world feedback to inspire my creative direction.
So what did I do? I took matters into my own hands and decided to put on my own art show in my garden. It’s a creative alternative to not having a show at all. It’s a new idea and not something I’d thought of before, but thanks to the rejection I came up with it!
Repetitive, consistent rejection can be a helpful signpost to guide your way.
Don’t be scared of being in situations where you might be rejected. It means you’re being brave and showing up. And we all know Brené Brown tells us that bravery and vulnerability are just two sides of the same coin right?
But at the same time, if you are being rejected over and over again for the same thing, then maybe it’s time to heed some of the feedback. It doesn't mean you take the feedback as true but it does mean that it’s time to have a long hard look at yourself.
Maybe you keep getting rejected for that lead role? Are you really putting the work in? Or are your cruising on your natural talent? Or maybe you keep getting rejected for interview? Is it time to invest some time and attention on your CV?
It could be as simple as this: maybe this situation isn’t the right one for you? You bet there’s one that’s perfect though. This is the BIG learning opportunity where you can really grow as a person. Changing our path isn’t failure, it's resilience and creativity.
Re-frame your thoughts about rejection.
What do you want to create for your life? Who has told you no and how have they rejected you? Make a list. Now look at each rejection and see how you could flip it to make that life that you desire:
Maybe you weren’t given that job and now you can retrain for a new career?
Perhaps you were told you would never lose that weight and you shifted your focus to health and are subsequently happier with your own body image?
Or maybe someone told you that you would never be able to deal with rejection to create the life you always longed for? What a crock.
Go forth and get rejected and lo! you will be re-born anew. So endeth the lesson from the book of Kelly.
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Kelly Herrick is an artist & creativity coach who helps people access more freedom & joy. She is also the strategic lead in an international design agency, a painter and mum of two boys.