After I left school, I realized the most important thing I must do if I wanted to achieve my dreams was to deal with my fears; that includes fear of rejection, fear of the unknown and fear of failure. One of the things I did was to move from office to office selling jewelries to corporate workers. I’ll walk into banks, insurance or any company with fair number of workers and introduce my merchandise. In some encounters, I was stopped at the gate by the security guards; sometimes I was told by a staff that the company doesn’t permit such activity. And in other cases, I succeeded in making sales and even creating regular repeat customers.
I’ll be telling a lie to say that my fear of rejection has totally disappeared; or that I now love to experience rejection. But through these experiences, I have learned valuable lessons about how to use the emotion that comes from rejection as fuel to get what I want.
Rejection is part of the societal activity and human interaction. If you want to deal with another human being, you have to risk being rejected. If you want to win people over to your idea, you have to risk being rejected. Whether you want to sell or find the love of your life, you have to risk being rejected. If dealing with rejection is so integral in the process of achieving anything worthwhile, why then do we spend our lives trying to avoid rejection at all costs? You may not necessarily destroy your fear of rejection, but you can learn how to use it as fuel to achieve what you want from life. Here is what you need to understand if you are being limited by fear of rejection. Before we get to it, be sure to subscribe to this channel for more insightful videos like this.
Why is rejection so painful?
A team of researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School wanted to identify why rejection feels so painful. They placed people in a functional MRI machine and asked them to recall a recent incident where they experienced rejection. They discovered something remarkable. When people think about rejection, it activates the same areas of their brain as physical pain.
When you feel physical pain, your brain releases opioid – the body’s natural pain killers – to help you cope. Likewise and very interestingly, when you experience rejection, your brain also releases opioids, just as they would if you suffered actual physical trauma. That’s right – rejection causes you literal pain. Sure, it’s emotional pain, but that’s often the worst kind of pain. This shows that our fear of rejection is rooted in our biology and psychology. Our overprotective brain treats rejection as if we are being cast out into the cold night; left to be devoured by predators. It evokes the feeling of defenselessness and vulnerability. That is why rejection is so painful.
But this is an over-exaggeration. In the situation of rejection, our brain is acting like an overprotective parent who wants to shield their child from the dangerous world. So they create imaginary fearful stories to keep the child from going out and talking to strangers. Entertaining this over-protectiveness makes us more handicapped than precautious. So to see the positive aspect of rejection, we need to reframe how we interpret rejection.
Reframe how you interpret Rejection
To gain significant control over this fear, we have to see rejection not as an objective final verdict about us but as the subjective opinion of the other person. For example, when I was going from office to office selling my merchandise, some people thought it was weird for a guy to be selling female necklaces, earrings, bracelets and all this stuff. While some thought it was cool and inspiring for a guy to be doing the same thing. Different people respond to the same thing in different ways. Rejection is not the entire world evaluating your personality and abilities; but the opinion of select few people from varying backgrounds, personalities, and ambitions.
Take for instance, J.K. Rowling. In 1995, she submitted her first Harry Potter manuscript to 12 British publishers and all 12 of them rejected her book. One even told her she had no business in writing books. Yet, another publisher found the story-worthy and chose to publish it. The result was over 100 million copies sold, making the author the first person to become a billionaire from writing books. People’s opinion is not a final verdict about you.
Rejection is Fuel You Should Learn How to Use
On the surface, rejection seems like something we should avoid at all costs, no thanks to how our brain interprets it. You’ll wish that everyone should approve of anything you do. But we don’t grow when all we get is acceptance. Think about a child that gets approval for everything they do. Or the popular student in school everyone wanted to be friends with. How far did they go after school? Are they the most successful in their career? In fact, the students that go on to achieve greater success after school are often the weirdos in the background. For example, when Elon Musk’s past college school mates were asked about what Musk’s life in school was like, most of them didn’t even remember crossing paths with anyone like him. Yet, today, Musk is considered by many as the most important human alive.
The point here is that you need to experience some form of rejection to get to the zenith of your potential. We need a rejection to be able to perform at our best. The more you over rejection, the better you get at it. People who are better at dealing with rejection have a greater chance of success because they are more willing to put themselves on the line and risk being embarrassed and ridiculed. And since success is a game of number; that is the more chances you take, the more likely you are to be fortunate. People who can go from rejection to rejection without losing faith are more likely to get what they want.
This is why it is important that you work on your ability to deal with rejection. Rejection is not a plague to be rejected at all cost; no pun intended. We actually need to experience rejection to be able to perform at our best. Guys experience this a lot when chasing a girl. The more she rejects him, the more determined he becomes to win her. When we are rejected, it feels like accepting failure; so we want to prove that we are not a failure. The goal to prove yourself can supply you with an ample amount of energy to get better and go beyond your limit.
Don’t Walk Away from Potential Rejection
I’m a member of a local toastmasters club. In a typical Toastmasters meeting, we have a session called Table Topics. How it works is that the Topics-Master calls on anyone in the audience and ask any random question. The person is then expected to respond impromptu to the question with 1 to 2 minutes. This is usually the scariest part of the meeting for even seasoned toastmasters because getting to think on your feet in front of an audience isn’t something you easily over grow.
In one of our meetings, a guest was called upon to participate in the table topics. He was smartly dressed and appeared confident. But he couldn’t summon the courage to step forward. The audience cheered and applauded to encourage him, but he declined every support. He didn’t take that chance. That was the last time I saw him at our meetings.
I can only imagine how bad he would have felt about himself after that day. People participate in table topics in every one of our meetings and there has never been a situation where anyone tripped and fell, or fainted at the gaze of eyeballs or any of those crazy embarrassing thoughts we entertain because of the fear that the audience will criticize and reject us. Instead, I have observed that when people step forward they end up performing beyond their expectations. And that encourages them to take up more speaking challenges. There is value in resisting the urge to run in the face of rejection.
The more you experience and overcome rejection, the better you get at it. The better you get at dealing with rejection, the more likely you are to do what you care about and believe in. And the more you do what you care about and believe in, the more your chances of achieving success. Use the emotion that comes from rejection as fuel to improve yourself, get better and achieve what you want.
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