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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Is Rejection a Bad Thing?

 
Do you remember when we were children and there was something we wanted?
That nice shiny thing under the TV perhaps? “No!” yelled dad.
You toddled into the kitchen. The oven was on. Whatever was inside smelled gooood. You reached toward it. “No!” screamed mom.
Ah, the days when we never took rejection to heart. On some occasions we’d stick our bottom lip out. Other times we’d throw a tantrum. But we never let it get us down. If anything, we probably became even more determined to get our own way.
 
As writers, we can learn a lot from our respective childhoods, because somewhere along the way, we allowed words and letters to affect us. Our developing maturity somehow severed our ability to bounce back from criticism without getting scarred.
But how much of an “I can’t be bothered” attitude should we strive to recover?
I read an interesting article recently by Jason Comely. It’s based on the premise that rejection – under certain circumstances – can be good for you. Remember, each of us is an individual, uniquely disciplined to handle certain situations in our own way. The older we get the more emotional baggage we tend to collect. How heavy we let that excess become...well, that’s up to us, isn't it?
Jason called his premise: Rejection Therapy.
 
How does it work?
Here are a few principles.
1.       Actively seeking rejection can help you fear it less.
He suggests that rather than becoming bogged down and overwhelmed by being told; “No!” think of them as a target. So, the more rejections you manage to accrue, the more successful you are.
How can this be good for you? It trains your mind to think differently. Gradually, you tend to stop thinking of the rejections as a hurdle, and more as a door of opportunity.
 
Seeing the possibility stimulates you to work harder, reach out more, and you lose the fear of hearing or seeing that rejection. Yes, it has the power to make you fearless.
Interesting.
2.       You are motivated to try harder.
Once you stop feeling so sensitive, a natural inclination to work harder kicks in. Fear of rejection is replaced by determination to succeed. It becomes a stimulus toward motivation. To carry on regardless of what others may think or do.
So, what consequence might we see?
3.       That determination spills over into other areas of your life.
If you think about the way life really is, it’s full of rejection. The choice of film you might like to see when you go out. The actual meal your loved one serves at the end of a hard day. Where you all end up on a night out with friends. How much input you contribute to a group discussion when the team “chatterbox” likes to dominate. Even getting someone you really like to go out on a date with you. Rejection is everywhere.
And think about it. Have you ever noticed how thick-skinned people appear to be a lot happier with life? People are attracted to them more, as they don’t throw a Scarlet O’Hara when they don’t get their own way. There’s a lesson there for all of us.
 
4.       Taking that risk becomes easier.
It’s true to say, the more we become accustomed to doing something, the easier it is.
Have you ever met someone who has complete conviction in their work? But, because they’re so afraid of the concept of rejection, they never put a great idea forward? I’m sure we all have. That’s why is such a good idea to actively seek rejection. The fear of taking a risk in the first place won’t hold you back, and life will be much less stressful.
 
5.       You start to see the bigger picture.
Jason’s therapy regime doesn’t advocate you don’t need to heed criticism at all. As I found out when I became a writer, some criticism can be constructive. It allows you to open your mind, be honest with yourself, and accept that...“Oh yes, what I did there was rather awful/didn’t make sense/needs to be reworked”, etc, etc.
You start to look at things from a different angle. You don’t take it personally. You stay positive, and use the rejection as something to build on and help fine-tune your future efforts. Basically, by taking the chance early on to set yourself up for a big “No!” – You avoid major disappointments later, when it counts, and use the experience to focus your efforts.
Don’t forget, in many instances – especially in the publishing world – the rejection itself may not be about you, but more about the setting/situation of the person/company who rejected your idea or work.
 
So there you go. I really enjoyed some of Jason’s thoughts, and I’m sure you will too. How often have we ourselves written to a certain magazine, ezine, etc, with an item/piece of work that makes our chest burst with pride, only to have it rejected, because it didn’t fit with their current theme? Remember, Jason’s view helps us realize...In many instances, they say “No” - not because your work is bad, but because it isn’t suitable for the mood they want to capture.
I’ve noticed this is especially true with poetry publishers, who cycle their ‘themes’ much more frequently than fiction houses. It helped me appreciate how much you need to do your homework beforehand, to ensure you target your work toward the right publisher.
 
As we enter 2014, why not some of these thoughts into practice, and see how it helps you realize...
YES, this year will be even better than the last.

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