Imagine two scenarios. In the first, we have Jesse, who walks into the room to give a talk and everyone stares. She feels nervous and awkward. She immediately zeros in on two women in the front row whispering and she’s convinced they’re talking about her appearance. She knew she shouldn’t have worn the outfit she chose. Jesse believes she’s fat, unattractive, and not good enough. Her husband left her a few years ago and she’s never gotten over it.
In the next scenario we have Kim. She walks into the room to give a talk and the same thing happens — everyone stares. Kim feels a little nervous but tells herself she’s prepared and ready to do this. She see’s the ladies in the front row whispering but pays them no mind. Kim has done a lot of personal work to get where she is today. Her husband left her but she picked herself up, went back to school, did some counselling, and is making the most of her life now. She could stand to lose a few pounds but she recognizes she looks good for her age. Most importantly, she lives a healthy lifestyle.
In both cases, the situations are very much the same, but the thoughts and feelings given in response to the circumstances are profoundly different because of several factors. These key elements are what make successful people fearless when it comes to the thought of rejection. Let’s take a look at them.
The first key factor that determines our mood and emotional wellbeing is our self-talk. What we say to ourselves in response to any given situation vastly determines how we feel. In the first scenario, Jesse has nothing good to say to herself. She also makes several thinking errors which she is totally unaware of. For example, she jumps to conclusions that the women whispering are talking about her, thus she feels rejection. She also erroneously believes her outfit and her weight could be the cause of the gossip. Kim, on the other hand, has positive self-talk. She accepts herself just as she is. She worked hard to take the necessary healing steps after the ultimate rejection of divorce by going to therapy.
The truth is that you alone are responsible for how you feel (barring any medical or severe psychological problems). It’s easy to blame our problems on someone or something, but in the end, the choice is ours as to how we will respond to adversity or rejection. Successful people accept responsibility and take charge of their lives. Kim could have chosen to be bitter and angry about what happened to her, but she chose not to allow the rejection she experienced to hold her back. The realization that you are responsible for your thoughts, attitudes, actions, and beliefs is empowering once you hone in on it.
Recognizing Thinking Errors
Successful people learn to recognize errors in their thinking that may cause them needless turmoil and lead them to feel rejected by others. Here are a few to be aware of:
Jumping to conclusions: You make negative interpretations even though the evidence doesn’t support your beliefs.
Generalizing: You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern.
Mind Reading: You conclude someone is feeling negatively toward you but you have no evidence to support the belief.
Fortune Telling: You assume your negative predictions are already established facts.
Catastrophizing: You attribute negative and horrible consequences to the outcome of events.
Our negative self-talk and our feelings of rejection are simply a response to our belief systems. Beliefs are powerful because we always act based on what we believe. Successful people don’t fear rejection because they’ve learned to love themselves. They realize their imperfections. They consciously choose to believe the best and they work at developing positive counterstatements to contradict negative beliefs about themselves and others.
Learning to be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
Successful people have learned to sit with the uncomfortable feelings of rejection. They have strategies to help them process difficult emotions, like deep breathing, muscle relaxation, journaling, and exercise. They understand that life is difficult and bad things sometimes happen. They also know not everyone will like them. They are secure because they aren’t trusting in others to meet their needs.
Successful people have developed strong resiliency skills. They are less self-critical, they see the glass half full, they learn to believe they are capable, and they develop good problem-solving skills.
Successful people aren’t robots. When they feel rejected, they have thoughts, feelings, and beliefs just like the rest of us, but they choose to work through them in adaptive ways. They realize that while rejection can be painful, it’s a normal part of life.
If you’re tired of ruminating about being rejected, start implementing these strategies. Start paying attention to what you do when you experience rejection. List your beliefs. Notice and challenge thinking errors. Develop positive counterstatements. These will be the first steps to developing the awareness necessary for change to occur.
Featured photo credit: Rita Schulte via media.lifehack.org