The Grace of Rejection: How to Turn Disappointment into Work That Fits Just-Right

by | Oct 9, 2008


Is there anything quite as bone-chillingly awful as rejection?
How can you keep faith in your business when your own mother unsubscribes from your ezine? Or when your best friend hires someone else to design her Web site?
Rejection can hurt. But when we understand what is really going on when rejection happens, we find the seeds of a business that fits just-right.
Why Rejection Hurts
First, why does rejection hurt so much?
Rejection hurts because of what we think it means.

  • "I’m not good enough."
  • "I’m an impostor."
  • "I’ll never make it."

But what does rejection really mean?
Does the Shoe Fit? Say you’re shopping for shoes. You fall in love with a stunning pair of boots. You try them on, and the toes pinch a bit. But they’re so achingly beautiful, and surely, you think, the glove-leather will stretch.
So you buy them.
And every time you wear them you find yourself crippled in less than an hour.
When your shoes don’t fit, it hurts. But it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you.
It means that they don’t fit.
What Rejection Means, Really
Rejection is a sign that something doesn’t fit. It could be that you’re marketing to the wrong audience. Or to the right audience with the wrong message. And the grace of rejection is that when you stop putting your time and energy into something that doesn’t fit, you are free to focus on getting clients and work that fits just right.
How to Read Rejection as Grace
In order to use the message of rejection to grow a business that fits just right, we have to know how to decode it. That means getting some distance from our habitual responses. Use the following four steps to decode the real message so you can experience the grace at the heart of rejection.
1. Get the facts.
The first step to reading rejection as grace is to clarify what actually happened. Once our emotions take over, our brains whirl with images and messages that have no basis in reality. To stop the whirling, write down the facts of what occurred.

  • My mom unsubscribed from my ezine.
  • Anne hired a different designer.

2. Get the story.
Even when we specify the facts, our whirling brains continue to provide interpretations that are painful and disheartening. Write those down. (Might as well. You’re thinking them anyway.) A simple way to capture the whirling misery is to add "and it means that" to your factual statements, then complete the sentence. My mom unsubscribed from my ezine, and it means that…

  • my writing is terrible.
  • she’s angry at me for not coming over last weekend.
  • she’s upset by the book review I wrote.

3. Look for agreement.
Look at each of your "it means that" statements. Where does it ring true for you? Is it relevant to your intent and purpose?
For example, where do you feel that your writing was terrible by your own standards? Write down specific examples, if you find them. Remember, this is about your standards, not theirs. If you are writing an ezine, your standards for what constitutes a paragraph are probably different than Mrs. Connor’s, your seventh grade English teacher.
4. Balance the scales.
Turn around each of the statements. For example, "My writing is terrible" becomes "My writing is good."
Find a specific example of how this is as true or truer. By the time you have completed these four steps, you will have recovered some dignity and balance. You’ll experience the confidence that comes from knowing how you measure up according to your own standards. And that leaves you free to take the next step along your path to a business that fits just right.
When you know how to read the message, you’ll see that rejection is the Universe’s way of telling you that what you thought was the final exam was merely practice.
Taking It Further
The steps above will give you valuable perspective, and sometimes they won’t be enough. When rejection continues to eat away at your confidence and motivation, use The Work of Byron Katie™ to dig your way out of the pit. (You may recognize aspects of The Work in the steps above.)
Katie’s Web site has ample resources for doing The Work and it needn’t cost you a penny. But here’s the deal. Knowing about these steps or The Work won’t do the trick. You have to implement them. If rejection is keeping you from having a business that fits just-right, please take time right now to work through it. All you have to lose is your discouragement.
PS: Shaboom County is open to new members now! Really. Truly. Check it out!
PPS: What if you could sit at your computer and be guided by Byron Katie as you do The Work on the thoughts that make working for yourself crazy-making?
With the new Work on The Web program, you can do just that. Folks who’ve tried it (including me), find they do The Work more often and that their inquiries are more thorough when they use this new tool.