Life is all about aiming to achieve. And when you do this, you face the likelihood that you won't get what you want—in other words, you'll be rejected.
If you look at this realistically, it means that rejection isn't all bad. In fact, if you are not being rejected, you're not moving on with life—whether we're talking about writers and their books, young people looking for a job, adults looking for relationships, or even children starting out at school.
Rejection means you're trying to move on. And that in itself is a good thing. The real issue is, how do you deal with it? The better you get at dealing with rejection, the less it will affect you negatively. So here are eight ways to help you deal with rejection, whether it's in the writing field or not.
- Acknowledge it to yourself. Don't pretend it doesn't hurt. Don't tell yourself your thinking is wrong. You've been rejected. It hurts. Say it!
- Be specific. Stop for a moment and analyse what you're saying to yourself. Is it you that's been rejected? (And it could be.) Or is it something you have done? Is it the book you've slaved over for the past two years? Has your job application been turned down? Did the person you wanted to befriend spurn your approaches? Analysing the exact cause of the rejection will help to get it into perspective.
- Examine your emotions. How upset are you? Just a little? Or do you want to sit down and sob? That's okay. Do it if you want to. That's a God-given way of releasing emotion. Get it out your system, so you can move on.
- Write down your feelings: Write them in a journal or even on the back of an old envelope. Just get them down. e.g. "I've worked so hard at this book. This was the one publisher I was sure would love it. Now they've turned me down, I feel as if I've wasted two years of my life."
Or"I feel sad because she doesn't want to be my friend. I am lonely, and really long to have someone to talk to."
- Correct the statement. Go over it analytically. Is it exactly accurate in every way? Does it stop too soon? e.g. in the first statement, the publisher hasn't turned you down. He's turned your book down. And you probably don't know why. Maybe the reader had a flat tyre on the way to work, and your book starts with the heroine staring at a flat tyre! It can be as silly as that! The second example may be exactly true, but it's not logical. It suggests now that the one person has turned you down, there is no one else who can solve your loneliness. Not true!
- Decide to tell someone else. Notice I said "decide". Whether you actually do or not depends on the circumstances, and on whether it is really necessary. But think of someone you think will listen and understand what you're going through. Then imagine yourself sharing with them. Tell them just how you feel, the reactions stirring within you. Share the actions you feel like taking. Do you want to burn the book? Or more likely, hit DELETE--and find another interest? Even as you put it into words, you know you don't want to do this. Your rejection is a bump in the road. There is a lot more to your journey. Do you want to never talk to anyone again? Well then you certainly will be lonely!
- Speak to someone, if you still need to, and you can think of the right person. Chances are by the time you get to this stage you will have realised you can deal with it yourself.
- Prepare to move on. It's easy to get stuck on the hurts of the rejection. But once you've taken a good hard look at your emotions, reactions, and have a clearer picture, it's time to move on. Dwelling on the negative is going to keep you living through the whole experience and the emotions. Don't sit around waiting for something to happen. You need to prepare for the next step.
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SHIRLEY CORDER lives in South Africa, with her husband Rob. She is author of Strength Renewed: Meditations for your Journey through Breast Cancer, contributing author to eleven other books, and her name is on hundreds of devotions and articles internationally.