How To Handle Rejection In Life
Rejection is a 9 letter nightmare that we try to avoid our entire life. If it were a human form, I'd probably call it an annoying relative. Funnily, we're okay if it befriends people around us. However, just the idea of rejection knocking on our door gives us sleepless nights. Why does rejection hurt like a motherfucker? Why do we let it have a bearing on not just our present but our future too? In this article, I'll be discussing how to handle rejection in life without tearing your hair out.
WHY REJECTION IS HURTFUL?
Let's face it, we've all experienced rejection in life. Some of us bury it under a subconscious blanket as if it were a memento of shame while some of us accept it as an existential reality and live with it. Others (a rare breed) use it as a motivational catalyst to fuel their self-development and achieve bigger things in life.
Rejection, by design, makes you question your existence. It belittles you, makes you feel undesirable, murders your self-confidence and hits you where it hurts the most. It attacks the basic DNA of who you are as a person. In some extreme cases, it even gives birth to suicidal tendencies in a person.
Rejection renders you helpless. It's like a stinging pain you feel all the time. You want to fight it, shout, cry and basically do anything that reduces the hurt inflicted by it. It makes you emotionally vulnerable to an extent that even looking yourself in the mirror becomes difficult.
You are reluctant to address it as you fear the long-lasting negative impact it'll have on you. So you bury it in a deep dark corner of your heart wishing it never sees the light of day. However, one brush with rejection is all it takes for all those uncomfortable feelings to come back and haunt you.
Have you ever wondered why rejection hurts so much? It's primarily because we take ourselves too seriously. We're so obsessed with ourselves that the fine line between self-respect and ego has become hazy. And when we lose awareness of this line of demarcation, we line ourselves up for disaster. I have been guilty of it and trust me, it's not a good place to be in.
UNDERSTANDING REJECTION - AN ACTOR'S PERSPECTIVE
I'm an actor and an actor, by definition, is a sensitive creature. I take that sensitivity up by a notch (because why be moderate?) by laughing and crying at the blink of an eye. I feel things too intensely which is both - a blessing and a curse. However, I have never judged myself for either crying too much or laughing too much.
Thankfully, with time, I've become calmer as a person. Earlier I used to be this temperamental emotional time bomb who could explode anytime because I didn't know how to handle rejection. Imagine what a single stroke of criticism did to me then! It literally used to shape my day into being the worst day of my life.
As an actor in the entertainment industry, you've got to have a thick skin to survive. But then you also have to be emotionally vulnerable in front of the camera. It's my emotional nakedness in front of the lens that will make you relate to me and like me. Now how do I magically create this switch within me wherein I am thick skinned and impervious to trolling/criticism but raw and real in front of the lens feeling every line that's being said to me?
DECODING THE 'FIT/NOT FIT' PUZZLE
Every day is a learning experience as an actor. Let me tell you how auditions in Mumbai generally work. So I go to give an audition and there's a long queue of actors already waiting outside the studio to give the same audition. A casting director or his assistant then comes out of the audition studio and filters through the crowd pointing at faces and saying if they are "fit or unfit" for the project.
I remember I felt like cattle the first time I'd experienced the process of an audition. Years of training, hard-work and a person just looks at your face and judges your acting ability by saying "you're fit, give the audition" or "you're unfit, this is not for you".
Earlier, my patience and mood depended on whether I could give the audition or not. If the casting guy said "you're fit", then I'd be relieved as I'd at least get a shot at auditioning but if he rejected me saying "you're not fit", then I'd mentally murder him. I took the rejection personally. It used to make me feel like a rotten vegetable in a grocery store that's rejected by every customer. One "not fit" in an audition would be followed by days of self-doubt.
REJECTION DOESN'T DEFINE YOU
It took several conversations with experienced actors around me to understand the actual meaning of that rejection. A casting director's rejection is centered around "the project and it's specific requirements" and not me as a person. My suitability or look may not be as per the character's requirements (which is fair) but that doesn't mean I can't act. One day of rejection doesn't define me. A bad day doesn't necessarily mean a bad life.
I gradually understood that I needn't take the rejection personally. A casting director has said no to me. He's being professional. I haven't been rejected as a person. And even if I were, it's okay. You've got to take it in your stride and not let it define you. If you start letting people dictate your happiness, then you'll never be happy. You'll constantly be looking for approval from others to determine your self-worth. Now is that how you really want to live your life?
Just try to comprehend where the rejection is coming from. Think over it. Remember, it's perfectly acceptable to feel bad. I'm not here to make you a monk or guide you to moksha. I'm still learning how to get better at dealing with rejection myself. All I'm saying is don't sit in a pit of self-loathing. Free yourself from the shackles of rejection because it doesn't define you.
From my personal experience, I can tell you what works. Handling rejection is ultimately a 4-step process - understand where the rejection is coming from, accept it, respect your feelings in response to it and move on. You'll be surprised how minuscule a rejection feels once you get the hang of it.
BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO HANDLING BASIC REJECTIONS
People accept or reject you based on their preconceived notions and beliefs. You just have to make sure that you don't let society determine your self-worth. While the reasons for acceptance may be few in number, there can be a buffet of reasons behind somebody rejecting you. After all, you can never underestimate the extent of human stupidity and shallow thinking. Here's how you can tackle some basic rejections in your daily life:
- If a person rejects you for your weight, then that's his narrow mindedness. Not your problem. He'll always compare you to somebody because he believes in the nonsensical rule that "thin is beautiful". Even if you become a stick, he'll find a thinner stick to compare you to and make you feel bad about your size. So fuck that!
- If a person rejects you because of your skin colour, then that shows his racist mindset. You don't have to feel bad about it. I mean you too are bearing that person despite him being a prick. Trust you me, in their heart of hearts, such people feel a pinching rejection too when compared to people fairer than them. So leave them rotting alone in their own sad ideology and rise above it because it's their insecurity speaking.
- If a person rejects you because of your financial status, then laugh over it. Because you too can compare him to several billionaires out there and there's very less probability that he'll be richer than them (unless you've been rejected by a Sheikh). So yeah, play their own game and beat them at it. Why beat yourself up for not being able to afford designer clothes or private jet rides. You and your parents have worked hard for every single penny so be bloody proud of it!
HOW TO HANDLE REJECTION - 6 EFFECTIVE METHODS
There are various ways of handling rejection. Some of the tried and tested ones (which thankfully worked for me) are:
- Understand that most of the rejections stem out of the other person's insecurity. People who are insecure about themselves generally cover their insecurities by being judgemental or abusive. Belittling people gives them an ego boost. They've experienced rejection themselves and their way of recovering from it is by passing it on to others to feel better about themselves. It's like a pass the parcel game except there isn't any birthday party and the parcel isn't exactly pleasant.
- Visualize the person who rejects you as a cartoon. Ain't joking. As weird as it sounds, I visualized one of the casting directors who'd rejected me as Wile E. Coyote. Road running's been smooth ever since (if you know what I mean). You could either visualize them as a famous existing cartoon or create your own cartoon character based on their physical appearance. Try doing it. You'll be surprised how your body reacts to it.
- Do some kind of physical activity. It's human tendency to lock yourself up and go sit in a corner where no one can see you post an episode of rejection. So stop pitying yourself and engage in any kind of physical activity. Run, lift weights, play an outdoor sport or dance till you drop. Just sweat it out. Researchers have found that rigorous physical activity releases chemicals in the brain called endorphins that act as natural painkillers. As a result, your brain isn't fixated on negative thoughts and you're in a better mood, feeling good about yourself.
- Indulge in positive self-talk. Manifestation is a funny game. You ultimately become what you say or envision yourself as. Might as well say good things about yourself. Tell yourself that you love YOU. No matter how your day goes or who says what about you, you will not let it affect your impression of yourself. Remind yourself that you'll not get overexcited on acceptance or miserable on rejection. In the words of Rudyard Kipling "you'll treat those two impostors just the same". This will ground you and keep you sane as you'll no longer need approval from others to justify your self-worth.
- Lock yourself in a room and abuse the fuck out. You don't need a script here, do you? Shout out every negative, ugly, extreme thought that's in your head and don't judge yourself for it. You'll observe that after a few minutes of the fuck you session, you're feeling as light as a helium balloon. That's because we, as humans, are designed to flow from one emotion to another. We can't stay in one state forever. The process is therapeutic in nature. So if all else fails, do give this method a try. Remember to have a nice hot shower at the end of it and cleanse yourself of all the negative energy both figuratively and literally!
- Watch your favourite film. And I don't mean a murder mystery flick where you imagine a person who's rejected you as your tormentor and plan his/her murder in your head. I mean a feel-good film that brings back happy memories. A film where your favourite scenes bring a smile to your face. Research proves that visual medium is the most effective source as far as changing the mindset of an individual is concerned so watch something pleasant. Always go to bed with a smile and not a frown.
CONCLUSIONRejection is a reality of life so the sooner you accept this fact, the easier it is to handle rejection and move on from it. The ways I've suggested you to deal with rejection are based on my personal experiences and experiences of people around me. It's not a Bible that you got to live by. Feel free to explore and create your own ways of handling this beast.
I admit there will be days when you'll feel helpless, alone and defeated. But remember you're too precious a person to let rejection get the better of you. And also, I love you. I may not know you or your struggles but I love you and I'm here to listen to you.
The best thing about life is that nothing's permanent - neither the good times nor the bad. So why let rejection occupy a permanent room in your soul without paying any rent. Go out there and take your chances without the fear of failure or rejection. Be your unabashed and unapologetic self because you only live once!
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