Facing Rejection with Poise
Last night I found out that I didn't get a job I was excited about + that I was fairly certain I would get. When I found out I didn't get it, I was in such shock that I accidentally ran a red light...! And later when I told John about it I couldn't help but cry. I was more disappointed than I realized!
It definitely clouded my mind for the rest of the evening, and as I was trying to go to sleep, I realized I was still thinking about it.
It's not that this is really a new experience for me; in my work as a calligrapher, I "lose" jobs all the time! You win some, and you lose some, and that's part of it.
This one got me thinking about establishing a path to take through being rejected professionally, because even if it is business and isn't personal, it can be emotional.
I'm no expert, but here are some steps I would like to see myself take the next time something like this happens. Maybe you'll find them helpful, too.
1. Acknowledge your feelings.
It's okay to be upset, or angry, or panicked at the receipt of unwelcome news! Technically, it's not okay to run red lights ;) but that helped me to realize I was a little shaken + needed to express that.
I am a cryer, so I more or less have no control over my own waterworks system. Holding back tears is not something I have ever been capable of, and I know that when I feel the urge to cry I just have to let it happen -- it's definitely one of those "the only way around is through" situations.
You might have a different way of expressing how you feel after getting some bad news. You may prefer to be by yourself, take some deep breaths, or talk to someone about it. As long as you aren't harming yourself or anyone else in the process of expressing your feelings, it's okay.
2. Ask yourself what you can learn from the experience.
I think it's natural in the face of something going wrong for us to wonder, "why?" or, "what did I do wrong?". Amazingly, even in circumstances beyond our control, we still have a tendency to ask these questions! I think it is a self-preservation mechanism -- we want to know how to avoid pain the next time we see a similar situation approaching.
I think an even better question to ask is, "what could I have done differently?". In this case, the answer I came to was that there really wasn't much a) within my control or b) that I was aware of that I could have caused to go differently, and after realizing that...there isn't much use dwelling on it.
That's kind of the nature of the past. It is impossible to change, though it can be a capable teacher! We all learned this from the Lion King, yes?
3. Choose between wallowing + moving forward.
The best thing you can do once you've let yourself feel how you're going to feel, and learn what you can, is to try your best to let it go. You'll likely face opposition, though, because when we get hurt we go into defense mode. You just have to know that about human nature, and try to fight against it.
I think sometimes my tendency is to come up with reasons why the other person is in the wrong in some way just because they didn't hire me. It sounds so petty to say it that way, but I think it's pretty normal. I definitely don't want to find fault with others out of my own feelings of hurt, though, so as soon as I find myself entering into that territory, I remind myself that it's not fair to do that, nor will it achieve anything.
The other tendency I think we have is to retaliate against ourselves, or go into self-attack mode. This is different than those initial feelings of sadness or anger -- this is once the news has sunk in a little better + we can say to ourselves, "what were you thinking?! how did you drop the ball on this?". But you know...this helps nobody either!
It can be difficult to let it go + move on immediately, so I think forming a perspective shift is what tends to be most helpful. Remind yourself that you have two options: you can wallow in this, and continue to feel miserable and self-pitying...or, you can do as they say + fail forward. You will fail, it's inevitable! It's also a part of growing, so anytime you fail, you can get excited about the fact that you're still in the game! You're still fighting to move forward, and that is really awesome, in so many ways.
YOU are no less valuable just because you've been denied an opportunity, or rejected from it or have failed in some way. YOU still are every bit as treasured, important, and whole. It's okay to be upset. See if you can learn something from it, and then go ahead and keep moving forward.