Did You Know Reactions Are More Powerful Than Rejections?

rejected-revAs a midlifer with stiff joints and a few extra pounds, I decided to make some changes in my daily routine. The goal is to delay the aging process as much as possible.

One is to do a brisk walk on the treadmill each morning while gradually raising the incline.

So far my post-menopausal metabolism hasn’t triggered any weight loss from this endeavor. But, aerobic activity offers other important health benefits that I can certainly afford.

Why give up because of one defeat and lose other potential opportunities?

Exercising Mind & Body

I  absolutely despise running unless there’s someone or something chasing me. Walking quickly uphill creates a decent level of perspiration, so I look appropriately sweaty.

Coupled with the ear buds and cross-trainers I feel like a true workout buff while walking on the treadmill. Never mind the fact that I have to hold on or lose my balance!

True workout buffs probably don’t have that problem. Hell, younger people don’t have that problem.

treadmill

My normal playlist consists of a Bob Seeger channel on Pandora, whereby various classic (i.e. old) rock bands keep me moving.

Today I decided to begin the workout listening to a TED Talk then switch to ZZ Top and the gang. After scrolling through the list I chose Jia Jiang’s “What I Learned From 100 Days of Rejection.”

As someone who filled out countless job applications and modified a resume and cover letter as many times (with no real results), I feel like we are kindred spirits! His talk was funny, entertaining, and enlightening.


Personal Experience

Afterward, I began thinking about the rejection I’ve faced in my own life. The earliest one I recall was from high school.

In my junior year, a dance line was added to our band, which had been shrinking (I think they wanted to make it look bigger.) My closest friends were cheerleaders, majorettes, and sports heroes. This was one final chance for the outsiders to become part of the elite crowd that defined the football season.

worthlessness-927079_640I had no prior training in dance or cheering, which led me to a sudden-death dance off with another girl. We were vying for the last spot on the squad. Thanks to two left feet and a near-paralyzing case of nerves I didn’t make the cut.

I’ve forgotten quite a bit over the years and what remains is pretty foggy. However, I will never forget my reaction and the crushing sense of defeat I felt that Saturday afternoon.

I dreaded going to school on Monday, convinced the embarrassment would kill me (and was kind of wishing it would.)

But, it didn’t and, as the saying goes, it probably made me stronger so I could face down all the rejections yet to come!


“Most fears of rejection rest on the desire for approval from other people. Don’t base your self-esteem on their opinions.”  Harvey Mackay

More recently, I felt that same sting of exclusion as I applied for job after job with only two interviews. Neither of these resulted in an offer of employment.

One of them was another sudden-death situation, but they chose the younger candidate. She had more experience in SEO they explained. By virtue of my age, I had lots of experience in lots of areas, just not SEO (close again girlfriend, but no cigars!)

When these events occur we see ourselves as inadequate. We quickly forget about our skills and many accomplishments. And it’s easy to feel this way because we’re focusing on one specific outcome instead of the whole picture.


Reaction & Rejection

The TED Talk helped me see that rejection often causes us to assume things that aren’t accurate. While we feel inept it may simply be that we’re not a good fit for that specific situation at that particular time. Mr. Jiang offers valuable strategies to counter these various episodes and the negative feelings they evoke.

His research taught him that people who truly change the world are often met with rejection that sometimes turns violent. He gives the examples of Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and even Jesus Christ.

Rather than allowing the rejection to define them, they chose to let their reactions define them.

What if they had given up or run away? Imagine how differently their lives and impact on the world would have been.

Imagine how differently our own lives can be.


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7 thoughts on “Did You Know Reactions Are More Powerful Than Rejections?

  1. That’s a very good point. We can’t control how often we are rejected, but we can certainly control how we react to that rejection! And it is our reactions that count. I was watching an interview with the woman who invented “Spanx” one morning, and she said that the best lesson she learned from her father was to actually value failure and rejection, because it meant a) she had tried and b) she could learn from what didn’t work. I think the Spanx company was one of many she tried to start, and while the others failed, this one made her a millionaire. As someone who tends to take rejection to heart, that’s hard for me to follow, but I think it is the best attitude to have!

    Liked by 1 person

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