Rejection has a bad reputation. It can make us feel terrible about ourselves and sometimes lead us to not want to try new things or do anything at all. But, with a little re-framing, I have found that rejection has actually been one of the greatest gifts in my life.
About a year ago, I started to look at rejection as my light-up game show arrow. For every first date that went haywire, every publisher that said no to my book, every audition or pitch that left me in a pit of depression, I ended up exactly where I needed to be.
It’s almost as if the rejection was whispering, “Hey, look over there, there’s something better for you right around the corner!”
When I was applying to colleges, I was looking strictly at Bachelor of Fine Arts Musical Theater programs. That was my dream since I was little. Since I was two, I had taken endless dance classes. I grew up studying with vocal and acting coaches. I was privileged enough to do so, I was prepared… and I was rejected from school after school. It was deeply painful. I remember crying in my childhood bedroom asking my dad why no one wanted me. Moreover, it felt like my dream had been crushed, without another to take its place – musical theater was all I knew. But that rejection led to me attending a school that was absolutely perfect for me and finding my dream career.
Then there was the time I told my best friend that I was falling in love with him, to which he replied, “Oh Chelsea, that will never happen.” I crumbled on the floor, feeling like I was unlovable. But had I ended up with him, I would have never met my husband, who is, without a doubt, my perfect match.
But while that big game show arrow has never failed me in the end, the time spent waiting for it to light up was NOT fun. What do we do when we’re sitting in the muck and feeling like crap about ourselves because we can’t immediately see what the next opportunity will be? In my Flip the Script course, I talk a lot about processing “less favorable” emotions like the ones rejection brings up.
Here’s how I get to the other side of those feelings.
1. Allow yourself to embrace the unfavorable emotion.
So often, we don’t allow ourselves to feel, especially when it’s perceived as a negative feeling. But, by allowing ourselves to process these feelings (or at the very least feel them) we can move through and beyond that emotion. More often than not, even if we try to suppress or ignore our emotions, they still find their way to the forefront of our lives sooner or later. By working through it on our terms, we can actually move forward.
2. For goodness’ sake, take a breath
Do not forget to breathe! Breathing actually helps you move that emotion through you. When you’re feeling the rejection, sit and take deep breaths until you start to feel lighter.
3. Find your gratitude.
While it’s OK to feel down, it’s not fun to sit in a dark pit of despair forever. As you start to feel ready to pull yourself out, think of the things you’re grateful for and appreciate. There’s always something, even if it’s tiny, like a cup of tea or a delicious piece of fruit. Be grateful for what you do have now.
4. Go to your people…
… and vent. As a verbal processor, I find venting to be so helpful in these situations. It’s like releasing the steam of a pressure cooker. Find a person you trust and set the stage – let them know that you don’t need to be fixed or have your problems solved, you just need someone to be with you in this tough space and lend an ear.
5. Rebuild your confidence and have fun.
This is the fun part! Go and do that thing that makes you feel amazing. We all have something, even if we don’t want to admit it. Whether it’s tasting wine, taking a ballet class, reading or going for a hike, do something that you know makes you feel good. Don’t worry about challenging yourself – this is a time to build yourself up and have some good old-fashioned fun. It’s hard to wallow with a big smile on your face!
6. Remember that this is a moment in time.
No matter what, there will be something beyond this moment. It will pass and you will get through this. Remind yourself of this as much as you need to.
7. Get back out there, you’ve got this!
You are resilient and capable. You can do anything you set your mind to. You can handle rejection.
Rejection is not a blockage but an opening and an invitation from the Universe to see your path anew. That big light-up game show arrow is there for you, guiding you every step of the way. And when rejection does get the best of you, you have a process you can follow to get you to the other side of those less favorable feelings. Always remember, no matter what you’re feeling, your feelings are valid. Always.