“Rejection is the sand in the oyster, the irritation that ultimately produces the pearl.” – Burke Wilkinson
Rejection is a part of life, and certainly a part of business. If you are a solopreneur or entrepreneur of any kind, or a human looking to connect with other humans, you will experience rejection. And when you do, it will hurt. It might even have you questioning yourself and your abilities and even your worth.
When this happens, tell yourself this: Nothing has gone wrong.
This may not feel true in the moment, but it really is.
As social beings, we long for acceptance. This is how we are wired. In the early days of our existence, social acceptance was critical to survival. Now, millenia later, the most primitive parts of our brains still conflate acceptance with survival and, conversely, rejection with annihilation.
This correlation, though, is a thought error. It’s just not true that rejection means anything about our safety or security or survival. It’s really just a necessary cost of being alive and engaging with others.
Simply understanding this can provide some relief. And, there are some mindset hacks we can use to navigate the pain of rejection with a little more skill and ease.
First, notice how you feel. You may have heard the phrase “name it to tame it.” This is a simple and science-based technique identified by psychiatrist and researcher Dr. Dan Siegel. The idea is that simply identifying our emotions by name takes a little bit of the bite out of them.
Second, describe the feelings to yourself in terms of bodily sensations. It can be easy to get stuck in our heads and just think about our feelings. Instead, see if you can actually feel them at a somatic level.
Third, let them be, at least for a short amount of time. Easier said than done, as it is so tempting to numb out, avoid, and buffer our feelings with distractions and quick dopamine hits. But as far as the most up-to-date scientific research can tell, no one has suffered death or even bodily injury from sitting with negative emotions.
Fourth, reframe your thoughts. Focus on something positive, or at least neutral. This could involve revisiting your why (eg. “why do I even open myself up to rejection? Because I want to find connection and love and I know it’s part of the process”). Or reminding yourself why you’re the cat’s meow even if someone else didn’t see it.
Here’s how I recently used these techniques:
I faced a rejection recently in my business. A prospective client I was really excited to work with decided not to engage me as a coach. I was really disappointed, partly because I knew I could really help this person. And partly because I thought we’d had a great connection when we spoke about coaching. My feelings went beyond disappointment, truth be told. I felt embarrassed and even ashamed. For a moment I let myself go down the mental rabbit hole of worrying about being unworthy/not good enough. That was my primitive brain in action. And then I just noticed what I was feeling and let myself experience it. It sucked. It hurt. But I didn’t die. Instead, I actually felt a little bit better simply because I didn’t run from the negative emotions.
I was then able to reframe my thoughts around the situation. There are lots of clients and coaches out there. I’m not for everyone, and everyone is not for me. And that’s ok. I know why I do this work. I believe in it. I’m passionate about it. I know it’s the calling of my heart and soul. And so I continue on. Coaching my heart out, being of service where I can, growing a business that changes lives.
Is there something you’re working on? Have you experienced rejection or are you holding yourself back because you’re afraid of it? Fill out the contact form to the right and let’s talk about how you can not just survive it, but thrive.