By Pia Das • January 28, 2018•Writers in Residence, Careers, Law School, Choosing a Career and Landing a Job
"Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose." - Bill Gates
Let's face it, we all get rejected at some point. For most of us, the emotional pain of being rejected can feel destabilizing and take us away from the path to success. An unfortunate by-product of rejection is that it can create negative self-talk and criticism, which then cuts away at our confidence and perhaps even leads us to avoid situations where we think we could be rejected again. This can send us away from opportunity, growth, and professional development. Don't let yourself get into a negative rejection feedback loop. Through the practice of mindfulness, we can learn to be fully present and aware of what we are thinking when we experience rejection. Mindfulness shows us how to not be overly reactive and ovewhelmed by the feelings and thoughts that rejection can create in our minds.
Here are some tips on how you can take a more mindful approach to rejection.
1. Pause and take a breath. It is easy to get flooded with thoughts and emotions when we feel rejected. It can bring up old pain and hurts that have nothing to do with the present situation. It can make us question our self-worth and lead us down a path of depression and anxiety. But much of what is happening is created in our minds and the story we are telling ourselves. Take a moment and notice what your mind is telling you. Is it saying something negative? If yes, know that you can change the channel on your thoughts. Know that you get the last word on how you want to view the rejection and that you have the power to choose a positive spin.
2. Remember that everyone gets rejected. As unpleasant as it feels, rejection is a part of life that none of us will be able to completely escape. Whether rejection comes in the professional or personal sense, it is still a part of the human experience. The unfortunate consequence of rejection is that it causes us to question our self-worth and sense of belonging. It is very easy to take rejection personally and to jump to the conclusion that we were rejected because we weren't good enough. This could be very far from the truth. The rejection may have nothing to do with you personally, but be a product of circumstance. You may never even know the reason for your rejection, but don't just assume it was something personal to you or about your self-worth.
3. Don't let rejection get the best of you. We often take actions that are driven by avoiding certain consequences; sometimes, we don't even realize we're doing that. It can come in the form of inaction, procrastination, or flat out choosing not to pursue certain opportunities because we want to avoid being rejected. The problem with this mindset is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The impotant lesson is that we learn to believe in ourselves regardless of how many rejections we have received.
4. Look for ways to grow and improve. Rather than seeing rejection as a judgment of ourselves, perhaps we can reframe rejection as an opportunity to grow. Each rejection teaches us something. The lesson often has nothing to do with our worth, but more about how we can try something different the next time. It gives us an opportunity to evolve and change our approach. This self-growth is often the key to personal satisfaction and success. When we push ourselves outside of our comfort zones, we open ourselves up to new possibilities. This is often the secret gift of rejection.