August 4, 2021

A Phrase that will Shift how you view Rejection.


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We’ve all been there, haven’t we?

There are very few of us who sail through life racking up success after success, win after win. Of course there are some who make it look easy, but most of us fail repeatedly before we eventually “get things right.” Right?

On my Peloton bike this morning, the smiling instructor yelled at me. In her ever-spinning “life coach” way she barked, “You can do it! You’ve got this!” and “Yes, it’s difficult; I know your body wants to reject this push and give up, but stop thinking about the wall and break through it!” Insert furrowed brow.

But…it’s good to be encouraged like this during bouts of strenuous exercise. Not only do we feel fantastic when we’re finished, we also realize that as cliché as it sounds, cheering motivation from another person doing the work too can really make a difference. One of the phrases she used was, “Rejection is redirection!” I’m not sure if she coined it, but it struck a chord with me, so I’m stealing it.

Rejection is redirection. Let’s think about that for a second.

Haven’t we all felt the sting of rejection? Bigger moments, like college applications and book pitches, or personal ones such as a hard “no” from a prospective love interest, or even someone just not enjoying the food we prepared are rejections. They can wreak havoc on our tender human emotions. But why can’t we consciously begin to absorb rejections differently?

If we can redirect our negative, sad feelings (without avoiding them), we may find ourselves more content with the zigzagging process of navigating our life, and the ways we may actually grow and change as we meander along.

Redirection means:

1. We move on quietly and quickly if it’s not that important.

It’s healthy to not dwell inside the negative energy of other people’s decisions. A rejection is not automatically about us and what we’re doing “wrong.” The self-help books want us to think about the roles we play in our relationships and situations, and that’s great, but a good portion of the time we’re doing just fine being ourselves. If we are experiencing rejection over something important, perhaps some self-reflection is in order and changes need to be made. Weighing the importance of any rejection helps us process it. It doesn’t have to ruin our mood or day.

2. We don’t take it personally.

We may not be perfect, but most of us are inherently good inside. When others reject us, it might be about their journey, and all the baggage they carry. We may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but rest assured, there are people out there who will find us utterly delightful!

3. We learn from it.

What can we do differently? If we really desire another outcome, we must increase our focus, and redirect our energy to get to the place we want to go! Case in point is a job or college rejection. How can we get there if the first way we tried didn’t work? History is littered with success stories of people who didn’t give up. Redirection takes grit and perseverance. It’s possible to get what we want by taking an alternate route, but we must want it badly enough.

4. We look past the surface.

Sometimes rejection in the moment isn’t really rejection. Of course no means no in many situations, but there are some “nos” that require a “try, try again” approach. Book pitches and dream jobs come to mind.

5. We switch gears.

Maybe it’s not our direction that needs to change, but our pace. To get what we want, we may need to speed up the process or pump the breaks from time to time. The stationary bike analogy works perfectly here. I still finished the 45-minute class even if I arrived at the end a bit slower than I imagined. A last place marathon runner still ran a marathon. 

When something is important, giving up is not an option. Redirection isn’t about passivity or pretending the rejection itself isn’t hard to take. It’s about getting what we want despite the setbacks. It’s about feeling our feelings about the rejection, and then finding a new way to succeed.

When we change our pace, learn something from the experience, or simply move on affably, we are employing some great tools that keep us away from wallowing inside our personal feelings. When we rechannel our intentions, when we switch gears, and even when we compromise (which slows us down but still move us forward), we are fighting rejection every step of the way. Even with all its twists and turns, falls and stagnant pools, a river still makes it to the sea because it persists.

“If you’re finding this difficult, take a little off but keep going!” my cycling instructor shouted.

And that’s exactly what I did.


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