Imagine this situation: You just finish a job interview and seemed to have aced the interview. You took two weeks to prepare for the interview, and you made sure you had slick, impressive answers ready for any possible question. Your résumé took hours to get perfect. You are going to get this job. A long week later, the phone rings. Your stomach is in knots. Almost breathless with excitement, you pick up. “We’re sorry,” an unsympathetic voice tells you. “The position is filled.”
How do you feel? Probably crushed. Anger and confusion pulse through you. You wonder what the person who got the job has that you don’t – perhaps they interviewed better than you, they had more experience, or perhaps you did something horribly wrong. You might respond with venom. “I never really wanted that job, anyway.” Or you mind find yourself feeling depressed and de-motivated…if you can’t even get a job you pour your heart into, what hope is there for your future?
Rejection is About Shame
John Bradshaw in his book Healing the Shame That Binds You, argues that we all carry around the idea that we are inherently flawed and inferior. He calls it a sense of shame. The shame can perpetuate by retaining a burden of sin in religion and the media giving us ideals that are almost impossible to live up to. Rejection stabs at our core, because we are social beings, and by our nature we obsess with what people think about us.
You learned about the world around you by asking other people when you were a child. If your teacher pointed to a new object and told you it was rhinoceros, then that’s what it was. Our knowledge about ourselves mostly comes from other people. We “learn” we are great or inferior based on how others treat us. Rejection tells us what we fear on the inside: we are flawed, defective, and unlovable.
Rejection is inevitable. It is impossible to always get exactly what you want, for everybody to behave exactly as you want them to. What can you do to stop yourself from spiraling into a pit of despair every time a new job prospect chooses another client over you.
Did you know that J. K. Rowling had her Harry Potter books rejected by twelve publishers before they hit the big-time? 302 companies allegedly turned down Walt Disney for funding before getting it for Disney World. Over a thousand restaurant owners rejected Colonel Sanders’ fried chicken recipe.
How different would things be if these people stopped at the first hurdle, and let rejection stop them from trying again? Their experiences show that it is not about what happens to you, but about how you respond to rejection.
There are practical steps you can take for improvement to decrease your chances of being rejected such as taking care of your appearance, learning interview and building a good résumé. The most powerful tool for handling rejection is your mind. By changing the way you look at rejection, you free yourself from the pain it usually brings.