Why re­jec­tion is­good for you

Don’t let knock-backs get you down – Chris­tine Fieldhouse ex­plains why be­ing given the cold shoul­der can help you har­ness the power of ‘no’

Friday - - Beauty -

K aty’s hands are shak­ing and she is close to tears. Ear­lier in the week she had an in­ter­view for a teach­ing po­si­tion at a lo­cal pri­mary school and she was con­vinced it had gone well.

Now the head teacher has called to say she wasn’t suc­cess­ful. A can­di­date who has more ex­pe­ri­ence with chil­dren with spe­cial needs has been of­fered the po­si­tion and she has ac­cepted it. The head teacher stresses that Katy must ap­ply next time there is a va­cancy, and ends by say­ing how much the panel liked her en­ergy and sense of hu­mour.

“As soon as the call was over, I burst into tears and cried for what felt like an eter­nity,” re­calls Katy, 23. “I felt use­less and a fail­ure. I kept sob­bing over and over: ‘If I’d been any good, they would have hired me. No­body’s go­ing to em­ploy me. I’m a rub­bish teacher.’ I then went through all the things I’d failed at, from be­ing in my school quiz team and not win­ning the area ti­tle, to my first driv­ing test, and the boy who changed his mind about tak­ing me to the school dance when I was 17.

“By the time I’d fin­ished, I felt ab­so­lutely dread­ful. I had no hope for a fu­ture in teach­ing and I didn’t even think I was a de­cent per­son. I felt like a no-hoper.”

Katy has just suf­fered re­jec­tion, which ac­cord­ing to ex­perts is some­thing that pops up in all our lives from time to time. Some of the most suc­cess­ful peo­ple have been the re­ceiv­ing end of a ‘No’. The Bea­tles’ au­di­tion tape was re­jected by a record com­pany boss be­cause he thought gui­tar groups were “on their way out” and the au­thor JK Rowl­ing wrote the Harry Pot­ter books af­ter los­ing her job as a sec­re­tary. Madonna went into the mu­sic busi­ness af­ter be­ing fired by a dough­nut com­pany in New York, while Walt Dis­ney was sacked by a news­pa­per ed­i­tor be­cause he was said to lack imag­i­na­tion!

But it’s how we han­dle re­jec­tion that mat­ters. We can choose to crum­ble and crawl un­der a du­vet and cry, or we can learn from the ex­pe­ri­ence and move on and get even stronger as a re­sult.

Hyp­nother­a­pist An­nie Ash­down (www.an­nieash­down.com) says our num­ber one mis­take when han­dling re­jec­tion is to make it per­sonal. “Peo­ple make it about them­selves,” says An­nie, whose book

‘I went through all the things I’d failed at… by the time I fin­ished, I felt ab­so­lutely dread­ful’

‘Just as not ev­ery film re­viewer loves ev­ery movie, not ev­ery­one is go­ing to like you’

The Con­fi­dence Fac­tor was pub­lished in Septem­ber last year. “Then they gather ev­i­dence to con­vince them­selves there is some­thing wrong with them be­cause some­body has re­jected them. They re­mem­ber all the other times they failed and this prods the wound and re­in­forces what they al­ready sus­pected – they’re not good enough. That’s go­ing to hurt a lot.

“But it’s com­plete crazi­ness. Rather than say­ing: ‘I didn’t get that job, but there are plenty of oth­ers I can go for,’ they chase all the things in their lives that aren’t work­ing now and make them­selves feel much worse. In the end they have a list of things, from as far back as their school days 20, 30, 40 years ago when they weren’t picked for the ath­let­ics team.”


o rather than go­ing back through her CV of fail­ure, what could Katy do af­ter dis­cov­er­ing she hasn’t got the job? Life coach and Neuro-Lin­guis­tic Pro­gram­ming trainer Phil Parker (www.philparker.org) rec­om­mends she in­ter­prets the head teacher’s phone call dif­fer­ently.

“Re­jec­tion doesn’t ex­ist, apart from in our own heads,” says Phil, au­thor of Get the Life You Love Now.

“This school isn’t re­ject­ing Katy, it is choos­ing some­one else. She just didn’t fit in with what they were look­ing for at that time.

“It’s a nat­u­ral re­sponse to think they didn’t like you. If a re­la­tion­ship ends, you feel you weren’t good enough. If you lose a job, you feel as if you didn’t mea­sure up, but re­act­ing like this doesn’t serve you in any way. By in­ter­pret­ing the de­ci­sion dif­fer­ently, you can avoid the pain of re­jec­tion.”

The good news is re­jec­tion is fairly rare – yet that’s why we don’t have a de­vel­oped method of deal­ing with it. We all re­mem­ber be­ing last to be cho­sen for the net­ball or foot­ball team, or be­ing missed off the in­vi­ta­tion list for a swim­ming party and be­cause it hurt so much when we were chil­dren, we of­ten don’t take many risks as we get older. Our sense of self-pro­tec­tion stops us pop­ping our heads above the para­pet – just in case we get knocked down again.

But how do we turn The Big No into a pos­i­tive, so that we start putting our­selves out there again, and tak­ing some chances? Af­ter all, if we don’t ap­ply for jobs or univer­sity places, or go on dates, or en­ter races, how can we ever hope to suc­ceed and add some sparkle to our lives?

Phil rec­om­mends we start by ask­ing our­selves how old we feel when we’re cry­ing and feel­ing re­jected. The an­swer’s usu­ally un­der 10 – be­cause that’s when we ex­pe­ri­ence our ear­li­est feel­ings of re­jec­tion – and, no mat­ter what our present age is, we deal with re­jec­tion as a small child would.

“Re­mem­ber a time when you were the per­son pick­ing peo­ple and say­ing no,” con­tin­ues Phil. “It may be that you ended a re­la­tion­ship, be­cause you didn’t think it was work­ing, or you weren’t suited to each other. When you didn’t pick a col­league to be in your com­mu­ni­ca­tions team, it prob­a­bly wasn’t per­sonal, but just that you thought you’d work bet­ter with some­one else.”

An­nie says when we’re ob­sess­ing with re­jec­tion, we of­ten miss the re­ally valu­able mes­sage. In Katy’s case, while she was cry­ing about not get­ting the job, she com­pletely for­got that the head urged her to ap­ply for other jobs at the school.

“See the pos­i­tives. If you get an in­ter­view, some­body likes the sound of you and knows you’re worth see­ing,” says An­nie. “Just as not ev­ery film re­viewer loves ev­ery movie they see, not ev­ery­one you meet is go­ing to like you. But if you keep your head above the para­pet, one day you’ll go out there and get some yeses.

“Next time you feel re­jected, say to your­self: ‘SW, SW, SW, TL, NEXT!’ This stands for: ‘Some will, some won’t, so what, their loss, next!’

“This in it­self will free you fromthe pain of re­jec­tion. If you can get some feed­back, or chal­lenge the rea­sons you’ve been re­jected, do so. There may be a sim­ple rea­son why you didn’t get the place at that par­tic­u­lar univer­sity, or why the land­lord didn’t choose you to lease his apart­ment. Know­ing the rea­son – if there is one – could help you next time you want a home or a pro­mo­tion. Af­ter all, it’s just one per­son’s opin­ion.”

F or many of us, when we look back at past re­jec­tions, we see that some­thing bet­ter came along. We re­alise the boyfriend who re­jected us when we were 19 wasn’t hus­band ma­te­rial, or the apart­ment we des­per­ately wanted and didn’t get was in an area that wouldn’t have been great for rais­ing chil­dren.

“Trust that the de­ci­sion not to pick you is part of a big­ger plan,” says Phil. “You might not see the rea­son im­me­di­ately, but over time you will. When peo­ple go back to col­lege re­unions, they see the guy who stood them up at age 17 is now fat, bald and has no teeth, and they go home to their gor­geous hus­band and chil­dren!

“You of­ten hear the com­pany that turned you down has crashed, while you’re now ris­ing through the ranks in a dif­fer­ent or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“Tak­ing the risk of be­ing re­jected can be a sign you’re stretch­ing your­self. So many suc­cess­ful peo­ple have mul­ti­ple re­jec­tions, yet they dust them­selves down and go back to work, trust­ing there’s some­thing else out there for them. From the out­side we see just their bril­liance – we’re not aware of the num­ber of times they’ve been turned down.”

Fi­nally, to stop us think­ing we’re an out and out fail­ure, An­nie rec­om­mends we write a suc­cess list – a run­ning record of all the good things we achieve ev­ery day – that we can turn to, when our mood is low af­ter re­jec­tion.

“You may have made some­one laugh, or baked a cake some­one loved. It doesn’t have to be rocket science – just a list of lit­tle ac­com­plish­ments through­out the day. It’s all about tak­ing a dif­fer­ent ap­proach!”


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