“A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success.”
— Bo Bennett, motivational speaker
Different people experience rejection coming from different sources. These sources may seem ridiculous to some, but for others they may be extremely serious. Someone may reject a person out of jealously, lack of understanding or outright hostility. The most common reason for rejection, it is said, is a feeling of inadequacy and a fear of failure on the part of the other.
You could be left out for other reasons, as well, like lack of communication, lack of right knowledge, lack of mental support, lack of common interest, lack of mutual appreciation, or lack of trust.
You are in august company!
When you face rejection, it is good to know that you are in august company. Here are some examples that will empower you to spring back to self-confidence and effectiveness.
• A German teenager was convinced by her low popularity that she was not attractive. But she became a top model, hailed by many as one of the most beautiful women of her time. Those who ignored her stared boasting that they were her schoolmates. She is none other than Claudia Schiffer.
• Rejected as too awkward and clumsy to be a ball boy in a Davis Cup match, Stan Smith went on to become the officially-ranked No. 1 tennis player in the world (1972-73).
• John Creasey, as a would-be crime novelist, received an unbroken flow of 743 rejection slips. Yet, over sixty million copies of his books have been sold.
• The gym instructor of a puny school boy called Edmund Hillary complained, “What will they send me next?” He went on to become the first man to conquer Mount Everest.
• In the dead of the dark night, Charles Dickens would sneak down the street to mail his manuscripts, lest his friends see and ridicule him. Many of his early manuscripts were rejected, before he won the hearts of millions with classics like Oliver Twist.
• Many were invited to witness one of humanity’s most historic moments: the Wright Brothers’ first flight in their “heavier than air” machine. Only five people turned up for the event!
• No publisher was willing to accept John Kennedy Toole’s manuscripts. He could not cope with the rejection and apparent failure, and committed suicide. However, his novel A Confederacy Of Dunces was published posthumously and it won the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
These are but a few of the countless instances that show that your experience of rejection is neither unique nor the worst. In all these cases of rejection, the end result was far more positive and wonderful than expected. So, never get put off by rejection. When slandered and rejected, remember, you stand in the company of the great! Many have stifled their lives by listening to some misguided critic who passed sentence that they were not good enough.
Earl G. Graves, the founder and publisher of Black Enterprise magazine and an authority on black business development, says: “We keep going back, stronger, not weaker; because we will not allow rejection to beat us down. It will only strengthen our resolve. To be successful, there is no other way!”
Your frame of reference
The frame of reference you choose will determine whether you see yourself as gifted or inept, indispensable or inadequate. But no one is as perfectly endowed as you are to fulfil the life’s work the Creator has entrusted to you. Dwell on this thought, it has the power to become a treasured source of strength and inspiration.
Just take any person, and you can write volumes about what he or she is unable to do or does badly. But that is of no more concern than the fact that a washing machine cannot do tailoring, record music, paint the walls or mow the lawn. Just as every instrument has its specific function and purpose, so also each person has his or her function and purpose. Anything skillfully designed is ideally equipped, and often exclusively equipped, for the specific purpose for which it is made, and may not at all serve, or serve poorly, another purpose.
If you are not good in sports, never mind! You could be a very good singer, an excellent painter, a great architect, a powerful writer, a sought-after speaker, a much appreciated teacher, or a wonderful organizer. You are superbly endowed for your precise role. As Bo Bennet says, an objection is not a rejection; it is simply a request for more information. Therefore, don’t let any person or any experience of rejection keep you away from a worthy goal that you want to reach.
The bright side of rejection
Rejection hurts, and hurts like hell! But paradoxically, it is also a moment of great potential. When we are experiencing the pain of being rejected we are simply unable to accept the notion that the new situation in our life has opened up the entrance to many better opportunities.
Soul Bellow, Canadian-born American Jewish author, and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1976, says, “I discovered that rejections are not altogether a bad thing. They teach a writer to rely on his own judgement.” Ever thought that rejection can help you grow your inner garden? Surely this is hard to believe, especially when acceptance means so much to you. You are at times left not only disappointed but also heartbroken!
That, of course, is not fun, especially the first few times it happens. It takes quite a few instances to quieten the agitating emotions that accompany the experience of rejection that one can get one’s thinking clear to see the wisdom and the why of it. A day will come when it all becomes crystal clear to you, and you will see from what you were protected. You realize that the sting of rejection you felt was certainly preferable to the dreadful consequences that would follow if things took the opposite course, if you had your will.
And so asks Destiny Booze, notable American novelist and suspense author, “Have you had a failure or rejection? You could get bitter, or you could get better. What do you think?” All who were denied tickets for a particular flight are happy and thankful they didn’t get that flight: it crashed and all passengers perished!
If rejection comes, take it in your stride. Train yourself to be a tough-minded optimist. When the going gets tough, let the tough in you get going, and don’t abandon your pet projects and dreams. Maybe, a rejection is for your greater good! “Life’s blows cannot break a person whose spirit is warmed at the fire of enthusiasm,” says Norman Vincent Peale.
All of us have the ability to turn the despair of rejection into a powerful experience, though it won’t be easy. We need to train our thoughts to see that there is always a lesson in rejection. We need to work hard to reinvent our views and to see the good in it, in order to move forward in life.
“Rejection is a decision,” says Dr Jeremy Nicholson, head of the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College in London. He points out that though the one who is rejecting seems to be more in control, we unintentionally participate in our rejection by nursing our emotional wounds. We need therefore to choose our reaction. When we stop seeing rejection as someone’s power over us, rejection will hurt less.
It is we who ultimately choose to feel humiliated by rejection or not. If we cultivate the serenity of choice in the face of the deep pains of rejection, the pain will be mitigated. It is difficult at times to distinguish between bad luck and a new opportunity. But we can train ourselves to see in the darkness of forsakenness that tiny glow that rejection often carries, and so emerge as stronger and more confident.
It all depends on you!
A young salesman became discouraged because he had been rejected by so many customers he approached. He asked a more experienced salesman for some advice, “Why is it that every time I make a call on someone I get rejected?” “I just don’t understand that,” answered the older salesman. “I’ve been hit on the head, called names, and thrown out of the door, but I’ve never been rejected!”
Kent Crockett observes that rejection is not what happens to us but how we interpret what happens to us.
There are people who feel rejected everywhere and by everybody. They seem to believe they are victims of universal rejection! Are all those who feel rejected actually being rejected, or are they simply inclined to feel that way? If I believe no one likes me, if I am not acceptable to anyone, and if everyone rejects me, then in all probability I am rejecting all those people and even myself.
There are also others who misinterpret any simple thing that has been said or done, and take it as an act of rejection. There are still others who have an inbuilt sense of rejection from childhood issues making them unduly sensitive. For example, one may feel rejected and hurt because the lift operator doesn’t say good morning. We have to ascertain whether we are in fact being rejected or whether we are simply too sensitive to whatever feels like rejection, on account of our past experiences. One can easily misinterpret what happens, and consequently have hurt feelings.
Have you earned your rejection? Why do people reject you? They may do so because of their character, their attitude and their fault, their need or lack of it. Yet, not every rejection is the fault of others. Your attitude and behaviour can repulse them. It is good, therefore, to do some introspection. Are you really rejected, or are you rejecting others? Discover the truth about yourself, own it up, and better yourself.
Dr George Kaitholil is a distinguished speaker and author of 91 books. About 3 million copies of his books, published in 8 languages in various countries, have been sold around the world. He has been associated with The Teenager Today for more than 30 years.