Rejection is an almost unavoidable aspect of any of our careers or indeed paths in life and nobody out there has ever succeeded without some level of rejection. We all experience it, and yet, many of us (myself included) do not really know how to deal with it in a positive and learning way. When rejection comes our way, we are often forced into a psychological negativity that is counter-productive to being able to deal with what is going on around us. Yes it is important to acknowledge the negative and consequence of the rejection but it does not allow us to move forward to even to be able to deal with the situation in hand.
In the world of project management, rejection comes in many forms … losing a contract … disagreement with others … not getting the promotion … not been assigned to the job / project you would like, etc. and in all of this it never serves anybody well to dwell on the negativity of this or feel victimised. It can be very tempting to indulge in anger or blame as to why situations have happened but again what does this serve to do? Yes, let’s acknowledge what we are not happy but why anger or despair over it
Lead researcher and author of Self-Compassion, Dr Kristin Neff, shows that there are three board classifications involved in dealing with the inner critical self when it comes to rejection. These three key elements are:
- Self-kindness vs self-judgment: – When we notice our critical inner voice creeping in and coloring our outlook, we should aim to practice self-kindness. Kristin Neff makes the point that we should treat ourselves the way we would a friend. This isn’t about feeling sorry for ourselves or denying our mistakes, but it is about not being judgmental or cruel toward ourselves.
- Common humanity vs isolation: – The key from Kristin Neff here is to recognise that no one is alone in their struggle, even though it can feel like that at times. All human beings suffer, and most have experienced rejection. Remembering this connection can help us avoid the feeling that we are somehow different or isolated. Many people have be
en down a similar path, and we should feel hopeful and connected when it comes to our future.
- Mindfulness vs over-identification: Mindfulness is a practice of focusing our awareness on the present moment, learning to sit with a thought or experience without judgment. We can feel our feelings without allowing our negative thoughts to take over.
The book on self-compassion is really about how we can be friend to ourselves when we experience a rejection and maintain kindness and understanding.
But here is the other thing, without rejection, we would not be where we are today. So lets embrace the consequence, look for the positivity and move the pendulum forward to being one of acceptance and positivity rather than o
ne of anger and negativity. Of course, this is easier said than done because we have to deal with the human mind in all of this. As a powerful piece of artistry, the mind will naturally guide us to focus on the consequence of rejection and typically ponder the negative, so it is our job to retrain our brains to focus on the positive.
It is very possible to treat the anger and emotional pain rejection brings to us and to prevent the fallouts that occur in its aftermath. For example, for that role you never got, there is going to be residing fallout / anger with whomever made that decision. So to effectively minimise the fallout, we must address these items from our past. We got to look at how to soothe this emotional pain and reduce our anger / aggression. If not, the voice of negativity will be a constant in our brain. So act now on your anger and embrace what you learn rather than how you feel.