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Can You Live beyond Rejection?

August 18, 2017

Women's Wisdom: Pass It On!

A Column by Kathleen Vestal Logan, M.S., M.A.
 
Have you ever been rejected? Painful, wasn’t it? And just because it’s a normal part of life doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. In general, rejections come either in our professional or personal worlds. I can share a few I’ve experienced, as well as some practical approaches to dealing with them.

Professional. When submitting my book's manuscript to agents in hopes of finding one to represent me, it was difficult to stay motivated enough to continue writing while receiving a steady stream of rejection letters. Or worse, no response at all. When I followed every single step of one agent's guidance in a book he had written on writing a winning proposal, I was certain he would accept mine. His short, written response? "It will get published, but not by one of the Six Sisters," (i.e., the major publishers). "Good luck." My husband, bless him, held me while I cried. I wrote nothing for a week and considered giving up.

Then there was the year I shared an office with a woman who quit talking to me after a couple of months—not so much as a simple, "Good morning." To this day, I have no idea what prompted her behavior. It was especially difficult because I was caring for my mother who lived with us and was having one health crisis after another. Thankfully, I was not confined in my office all the time.

PersonalMy roommate in college for our junior and senior years was a close friend.  Our senior year went downhill fast, however, until she avoided me completely. Fortunately, we had two rooms that year with a shared sink area, so it was tolerable. Since she was getting married after graduation, I gave her a shower at the end of the year in hopes of healing the friendship, but the positive effects were short-lived. I never heard from her again.

Many years ago, I was engaged to be married and was planning the wedding when he called it off. I was devastated.

I have two friends whose adult children are cutting off contact with them. And these are good, decent people! Sons or daughters have distanced themselves, minimizing grandparents’ contact with their precious grandchildren, too. Losing a roommate is unfortunate; being rejected by your own child is unbearable, leaving a gaping hole in my friends’ hearts. They suffer silently.

I often hear or read, “Don’t take it personally.” Ha! How do you do that? To me, this advice is useless as it’s hard or impossible not to take rejection personally. However, there are things you can do to propel the healing process.

Helpful ways to respond to rejection.

First, rejection is a loss, so allow yourself to grieve. When my ‘perfect’ book proposal was rejected, I quit writing for a week, allowing myself time to absorb the professional pain. My office mate eventually took another job, saving me from any further action.

After my then-fiance called off our engagement, my very being was rejected. I felt like I had lost my future, my sense of self-worth. When my roommate cut me out of her life, I was sad at losing a valued friendship. For my friends whose children are essentially ‘shunning’ them, grief is intense and they feel lonely. “All the other houses on the street have kids going in and out, except ours,” one said.

Try not to wallow in the rejection. After a week of not writing, I adjusted my attitude, got busy seeking another agent/publisher, and soon found one. I wallowed in grief for a couple of years, sorry to say, after the cancelled engagement. I stopped trying to reconcile with my roommate after graduation, deciding it was time to ‘let it go.’ With my parent friends, though, ‘letting go’ is not a viable option. I do encourage them to try to put the negative situation in a mental ‘box’ while focusing on their marriage and other positive aspects of their lives. Leaving the box ‘unlocked,’ so to speak, allows for changes in their relationships with their children. Single parents have it even harder with no built-in support person.

Acknowledge that it’s not your fault. When you’ve done all you can, like with my roommate and office mate, admit that you didn’t cause the rejection. It’s out of your control; move on.

Set a time boundary on feeling bad. Ask yourself how many days, weeks, or months during which it’s reasonable to expect yourself to adapt to this rejection. Write the date on the calendar. Your unconscious mind will work to help you meet that deadline. (This probably isn’t a reasonable option for parents.)

Talk with someone you trust or a professional counselor. I shared my misery over the book with a fellow writer who prodded me into trying yet again. With the roommate, I did talk with our other close friends who were feeling closed out, too; they reassured me it wasn’t my fault. Looking back, I know that I could have benefited from seeing a counselor after the broken engagement as I was truly stuck; professional support and guidance could have aided me in regrouping and regaining my self-esteem more quickly. As for my parent friends, if they don’t call me, I call them, offering a listening ear and empathy, and I sometimes suggest counseling, too. For them, maintaining hope is crucial.

Look ahead, picturing the day when you will have grieved, accepted the rejection, and are past the pain. For parents, focus on what’s good in your life while maintaining hope. You can live beyond rejection.
 
Kathleen Vestal Logan is an inspirational speaker and writer on women's lives. She is co-author of the 2010 award-winning book Second Blooming for Women: Growing a Life that Matters after Fifty(www.secondbloomingforwomen.com.) Her most recent book is Women's Wisdom: Pass It on! She conducts classes, seminars, and holds guided discussions on the content of both books. She is a contributing author for numerous publications. You can contact her at: kvllifeskills@aol.com and www.womenswisdompassiton.com. To purchase her latest book,  Click Here.