We’ve all been rejected in one form or another in our lives. From childhood when you don’t get what you want as children and the times when your parents’ affections are withheld from you through something that you believed you did, in the playground when other kids don’t want to play with you as they prefer to play with the other kids, when you start forming romantic attachments and are not noticed by that person you are attracted to, when you apply for College or University and don’t get accepted, when you apply for a job or a role and your resume does not even take you through to an interview, when you form a romantic relationship and your lover doesn’t give you affection if you don’t behave in a certain way that is acceptable to them, when your partner or wife or husband leaves you because they no longer feel connected with you or with the relationship… and so on. There are so many examples.
Rejections usually cause negative outcomes for those who have been rejected. It affects our sense of security and self esteem and we tend to carry these emotional scars into adulthood.
However, rejection has the potential to create greatness.
I am writing this article because of an experience that I went through recently and it’s to do with applying for a group membership on a networking site. My objective in seeking to join the group was purely for education. Within 24 hours I received a response that my application was denied due to a number of reasons. The reasons were specific and listed. I was a teeny bit surprised with the response as I didn’t realise that the group was very exclusive. You see, a number of the locked or private groups on this site are quite specific and I do understand if I can’t be a member as my professional activities and interests have nothing to do with these private groups. However, with this group that I was keen on, my interests and activities were along similar lines as this group and I thought, so long as the intention is about learning and sharing (and not using the group as a selling point) that it wouldn’t have been so exclusive to join the group.
Reflection and a positive outcome
I thought the response was quite nice – they gave me reasons why I have been declined and the membership criteria that they’re seeking from their applicants. The response email also invited me to state why I wanted to become a member of the group. I suspected that the response is probably their standard response to applicants, but I took it on face value and wrote back an open-hearted email detailing the reasons why and the current activities I’m involved in which correlates with the activities and conversations these groups would have had. The second response I received this time was shorter, and quite firm. No, they said, after reviewing my profile, they are standing by their decision to decline my membership request.
After receiving that second email response from the group, I felt within myself and asked, am I feeling disappointed? How do I feel? My first emotional response was, well… I felt like I was back at the school playground in grade 1 and I was one of the “outcast” kids the popular kids didn’t want to play with. And if I have to be honest, I felt a little ‘twinge’ just right there above the solar plexus. My second response was an ‘aha’ moment. I thought of how things have been going really well for me… and I’m really glad they said “No”.
The level of emotional ‘twinge’ that you get is in proportion to your attachment to an outcome. In other words, the strength of your emotional response to a negative outcome has direct correlation to how attached you are to the positive outcome that you expect.
I was happy they said “no” because it seeded the idea behind this article. Within that split second, I could see the beauty in it. Of course, they would have already checked me and their initial response was really final. They were only trying to be nice about it with their first rejection… I chuckled silently to myself, some applicants probably would not send them an email after the first response, but… I can only try and anything is possible, right?
We learn through resistance and tension
So! The purpose of this article was due to my second response. The thought came to me that if we have it all smooth and easy, how can we learn? I looked back at all my experiences and one common denominator stood out: Everything that I’ve learned and the wisdom I gained, I learnt through resistance. We learn through resistance and tension. With resistance, we can stretch and flex our muscles, whether it’s mental, emotional or physical. It’s where we discover and learn something new, especially about ourselves. Without having boundaries to test, and without the challenges that we face, how will we build on what we already know?
When you think about resistance, think about the soles of your shoes against the rough surface of the road. The resistance caused by the interaction or friction between these two surfaces provided traction for you when you’re walking. If you don’t have traction, you’ll slip. I think of the resistance as akin to an elastic band. We either get pushed or pulled, but regardless of the direction, we can use the force as a momentum to bring us forward. This force is also what I use to stimulate my creativity.
When I think of resistance, what comes to mind is the dance of positive and negative, of molecules and atoms banging against each other and interacting with each other. It’s just like how we interact with each other… It is the best medium in allowing us to know who we are by our interactions with each other. It enabled us to see ourselves.
The benefits of getting rejected
Negative outcomes have tremendous potential and benefits. We learn and re-create ourselves as a result of being rejected. We don’t remain static and unchanged. Without the rejections, how do we understand and manage our emotional responses? And in mastering our emotional responses, how do we strengthen our nervous systems which correlates with our immune systems and directly affects our health? And what about the benefit of getting to know ourselves more through the rejections we faced?
Among other things, a side effect of being rejected is the development of resourcefulness and self-sufficiency within the self.
Rejection can often trigger creativity in people and the discovery of talents.
Some of us won’t know we have a specific gift or talent until we are challenged. We need to be poked and prodded and stimulated just in the right way for these gifts to surface. To me, rejection and “negative” outcomes is a blessing in disguise. They really are my good friends, along with the “positive” outcomes. My negative outcomes fire up my creativity. My positive outcomes allow me to appreciate the fruits of my creativity.
I am thankful for this recent experience in that although I didn’t achieve my initial objective, I still got my core objective which is about learning and about the psychology of individuals and groups. I didn’t need to be part of the group to get an insight to what I needed to get. The response to my application was enough insight and answer to the underlying questions I have. And of course, the birth of this article.
A rejection is not a rejection
At the end of the day, I didn’t see the group’s declining of my application as a rejection per se. I just didn’t fit their requirements and that is perfectly ok. We can’t all fit into everything and be compatible with everything, otherwise, where would be the fun in that? Fun is in the variety and in the ups and downs and the discovery of new things… We are able to experience this through diversity and the constant motion of repelling/attraction that happens. This is why we have many varieties of people and personalities and experiences. These in itself is a wealth of information. It’s through experiencing rejection and setbacks that causes us to dig deep into ourselves and find that wealth of creativity. It’s how I’ve come up with this article. It’s how we discovered new frontiers and taken our world to another level of existence. It’s how we, in fact, create new worlds.
© 2015 Nina Barcenilla, All Rights Reserved