There is nothing fun about getting rejected.
Ever notice how being turned down stops some people from trying again, while others bounce back from rejection stronger than before? Everyone experiences the sweet sting of rejection, but some people use that pain to grow stronger and become even better equipped for the next round of rejection.
As artists, Klee and I experience rejection ALL the time. In fact if you are in a creative field there is one constant in your life… you are going to be rejected time and time again. This was one of the fears I had that kept me from experiencing an art career for most of my life. Luckily, I’ve stumbled upon five steps that help me use rejection instead of rejection using me.
1. I Acknowledge My Emotions
Rather than suppress, ignore, or deny the pain, I acknowledge the emotions. I openly admit when I’m embarrassed, sad, disappointed, or discouraged. I have practiced confidence in my ability to deal with uncomfortable emotions head-on, which is essential to coping with the discomfort of rejection.
No matter what kind of rejection it is, trying to minimize the pain by convincing yourself–or someone else–it was “no big deal” or “it’s their fault” will only prolong your pain. The best way to deal with uncomfortable emotions is to face them head-on.
2. I View Rejection As Evidence That I’m Pushing At My Limits
I know that rejection serves as proof that I’m living life to the fullest. Honestly, I expect to be rejected every once in a while, and I’m not afraid to go for it, even when I know it might be a long shot.
If you never get rejected, you may be living too far inside your comfort zone… just saying.
3. I Treat Myself With Compassion
Rather than think, “You’re so stupid for thinking you could do that,” I treat myself with compassion. I stand up for myself and respond to negative self-talk with a kinder, more empowering message.
Beating yourself up will only keep you down. Speak to yourself like a trusted friend or cheerleader. Drown out your harsh inner critic by repeating helpful mantras that will keep you feeling awesome.
4. I Refuse To Let Rejection Define Me
I stay away from making sweeping generalizations when I’m rejected. If one gallery turns me down or ignores me, I don’t declare them or myself incompetent or a bad artist. I try to keep rejection in proper perspective.
One person’s opinion, or one single incident, should never define who you are. Don’t let your self-worth depend upon other people’s opinions of you. Just because someone else thinks something about you, doesn’t mean it’s true.
5. I Learn From Rejection
If I’m rejected I’ll ask myself, “What did I gain from this?” so I can walk away with something I gained for the next try. Rather than simply tolerate the pain, I turn it into an opportunity for self-growth. I’m all about using any opportunity to learn and feel better about my life and what comes next.
Whether you learn about areas in your life that need improvement, or you simply recognize that being turned down isn’t as awful as you imagined, rejection can be a good teacher. Use rejection as an opportunity to move forward with more wisdom and love.