So, I’m on this mission to seek rejection. Yup, the big, scary, embarrassing, soul-crushing R word.
This intentional search for rejection started with reading an e-guide, Motivating Your Millennial Mind, written by my personal transformation coach (more on that another time!), Ivy La Clair.
The e-guide gives an Action Step to overcome our aversion to failure: Try to get three rejections during the week.
Sounds scary, huh? But actually, according to the guide, seeking out rejection “is often referred to as ‘rejection therapy,’ and it can help failure, setbacks, or rejection not feel so personal or crushing.”
I recorded this vlog post in 2013, right after I had sought after something I thought would end in rejection — approaching another musician to work together on my first songwriting collaboration.
The outcome was a fantastic experience working with Adam Boddy, as well as our song For Simone.
Looking back now, I can see why I was so nervous about putting myself out there. By me asking Adam if I could write a song with him, it was as though I was saying: “Hey, I’m a good enough singer and songwriter to create something awesome with you.”
Thing was, I didn’t fully believe that was true. (Even if, objectively, it was.)
Now that I’ve worked on several collaborations, I have more than enough “proof” that I’ve always had the capability to be a great collaborator — to communicate well with my partner, to be adaptable enough to work with their contributions to the project, and to bring my own skills as a singer-songwriter to the table.
I guess the hard thing can be when you want to try something you’ve never done before, or something that you don’t feel you’re “an expert” in. (There’s no such thing as experts, by the way).
In those cases, it’s easy to think: Who am I to ask, “Can I be part of this?”
Dive In Past the Fear
Oh man, this post got way longer than I had intended, but, hey, I hope this might be helpful to someone out there!
I’ve had many deep desires in my own life — things that I think about over and over again, burning away my mental energy because I don’t actually act on them. I’m just too afraid to.
Some examples are: Asking an acquaintance to meet me for a coffee because I’d like to get to know them better, but thinking, “Why would they want to spend their time with me?”
Or asking a friend if I can sing at their event, but thinking, “Do I need to be a bit more polished as a performer? Maybe it’s too presumptuous of me to just ask if I can sing there.”
When I’m faced with these kinds of situations, I try to remind myself of the following:
The reasons why we shy away from pursuing what we want — fear of what people might think, fear of rejection, fear of failure — are often not based in truth.
And if we take a few moments to dive in past the surface, and rationally work through those fearful perceptions, we usually find that it’s worth taking that step towards what we really want for ourselves.
What do I mean by that? Well, let’s work through each right now and I’ll show you what I mean.
Fear of What Others Might Think
With respect to my fear of what others might think should I pursue *that* thing — depending on who it is and their (perceived) reaction — I remind myself of the following:
a) “Don’t take it personal.” Not everyone is going to like your flavour of tea. For example, I don’t enjoy listening to certain voices of award-winning, world-famous singers. It doesn’t mean they don’t have talent and many fans that do appreciate their singing. It just means that it’s not my personal preference, and that’s okay. We’d be a boring bunch of humans if we all liked the exact same things.
b) “That’s exactly the kind of opinion I don’t care about.” If someone’s reaction to *that* thing I pursue is over-the-top critical, attacking or patronizing, then I think: Why would I want their approval anyways?
If what you’re trying to do isn’t hurting anyone and is meant to bring positivity to your life, such negative responses are likely coming from people who have their own issues to deal with. Let them deal with it, and move on to doing you.
c) “Nobody has to experience my life, and the outcome of my life decisions, but me.” We all have parents, friends and other people in our lives who genuinely care about our wellbeing. (We also have all those other societal pressures that come from the rest of the world). But sometimes, we may not all agree on what “being happy” or “being successful” means.
When others get worried on my behalf because I’m choosing a path that strays from their definitions of “happy” and “successful”, I remind myself that I — and I alone — have to go through the day-to-day experience, actions and thoughts that are the result of my life decisions. Only me. 24/7.
It doesn’t mean that you can’t take other people’s suggestions into consideration. But at the end of the day, trust what your gut is telling you is honest and right for you. (It gets easier with practice, I promise).
Fear of Rejection
With respect to the fear of rejection — the fear that I’ll receive a “no” response to what I ask for — I remind myself:
The outcome of just going for it will likely never be worse than the outcome of not doing anything.
If you are continuously thinking about this *thing* you want to do, because you feel it will bring something positive to your life, then not attempting it, yes, guarantees that you won’t have to experience rejection, but it also guarantees — with 100% certainty — that you will not get to experience what you want.
That’s a pretty damn awful outcome, right?
Not only that, but there are other negative things that come out of not taking action on my burning desires.
For one, I waste tons of mental energy and precious time in my day simply thinking about the things I want to pursue, but am too afraid to. Trust me, just ’cause you avoid doing it, doesn’t mean it’s disappeared from the background. There it will be, haunting your mind for days, maybe even years, until you finally just give it a try.
Second, I reinforce, in my brain, that when I get these feelings of worry and fear in the face of potential rejection, the response should be: avoid and run away. The more I avoid and run, the more my brain is taught that this is how it should always respond to alleviate the worries and fear.
I truly believe that we can teach our brain the opposite — every time you approach fear head on and pursue what you want to do, your brain learns that the *scary feelings* are only temporary and usually make way for great rewards!
So, try it. Ask for what you want. Take that first step towards doing what you’ve been longing to do. Now, if you do go for it, there’s a chance that everything goes your way (awesome!), and, yes, there is also a chance that it doesn’t.
But in the latter case, there is still a positive outcome, for you will have gained some kind of valuable learning from the experience. The key is to seek out that learning, always.
And don’t forget: “Where one door closes, another door opens.” — Some wise person
Fear of Failure
With respect to the fear of failure — worrying that if I pursue *that* thing, I may not be “successful” at it — I remind myself:
Yes, I may “fail” — or, in other words, I may not achieve the level of “success” that I hope to in pursuing my dream, goal, etc. This is a possibility.
And it is just as possible that I might do really well — exceptionally well. I might grow as a person from the experience. I may contribute something valuable to others. The experience may lead to other, amazing opportunities that would not have otherwise presented themselves.
Unless you have a crystal ball, there is no way to accurately predict which path you will go down. And remember that your path may involve a mix of ups and downs, feelings of both failure and success.
Give it your best effort, stay open to learning, and surround yourself with people who will continuously encourage and support you in your new endeavours. The naysayers can go find another party to crash. 😉
Wherever the journey takes you, continuously reflect on the learnings you are gaining from the experience. No matter what you’re going after, there is one learning that will always be reinforced: That in the face of fear and uncertainty, you were brave enough to push through. You are a courageous person.
There are no failures in life if you take a lesson out of it, and use it to do better going forward.
Are You Ready to GO FOR IT?
Enough of a pep talk for ya? I know I feel like taking on the world right about now!!!
By the way, those two examples I gave earlier about things I wanted to pursue, but felt uncertain in doing? I decided to go for both “rejections.” The outcome?
The person I had asked to go out for a coffee was excited to meet up, and we ended up having an awesome conversation at a cafe together.
I contacted my friend about performing at his event and he replied, “Let’s book a date.”
That was it!
So, what rejection are you gonna go for this week? 🙂