Accept and Reject are antonyms but if we combine the two words, they can become quite meaningful and useful.
If you’re a bit like me, you detest rejection.
After all we may have invested time, emotions, effort, money, hope and more towards something or someone, and then it all stops. Whether this is a job interview, promotion, potential or existing partner, a competition... often the outcome is out of our control and we don’t have a choice but to accept what is.
This is when accepting rejection can be essential. By surrendering to the results as something that is not in our hands and hoping that at least one positive thing will come out of it either way, imminently or in future, we can save ourselves from unnecessary pain or stress.
My Physics teacher once told me:
“Remember that you did what you thought was right at the time, and if you did your personal best then, that’s all that matters. Forget about the outcome of whether you pass or fail.”
As soon as I sat my exams, I told myself that I would forget about it and enjoy my summer holidays, rather than stress about the results until they were published.
Although this advise is more about accepting 'failure', rather than 'rejection', it's applicable to other aspects of our lives.
REJECTION: JOB INTERVIEWS
Turning the spotlight onto job applications and interviews, there may be times when we feel like we have met our career-soul mate i.e. the perfect job.
I remember interviewing at a boutique company a while ago, when I met almost everyone in the company except the cleaners, including the CEO. After five rounds of interviews (for a graduate role...), I was convinced that they loved me and I would get the job.
I didn’t hear from them for a week, then another week... I actually never heard back from them.
In those few weeks, my heart felt increasingly heavier and I wondered “why wouldn’t they give me the job?”; “did I say something that made them change their minds?”; "maybe I shouldn't have cracked that joke...".
The truth is that often we will never know the real reason behind other people's decisions.
Reading rejection letters from job applications also never failed to amuse me over time, with the standard:
Thank you for taking the time to interview.... blah blah..... Unfortunately....." and that's when I stop reading. I remember when reading the word "Unfortunately" would make my heart sink.
Over the years, having interviewed at many other companies, I have finally seen the benefit of accepting rejection as soon as possible. Sometimes, on the same day.
The sooner we accept rejection, the less time we waste by thinking about it, minimising unnecessary stress building up in our lives.
Sometimes when we are in a relationship, we can feel like we’re sat on a see-saw and no one is at the other end, and all the effort is one-sided. That is one form of rejection... a small, regular one that can eat into our confidence over time, if we dwell on it for a long period of time.
With relationships, it’s obviously not as easy to forget about people and cut them out, like we can with other forms of rejection like from a job interview. Sometimes we have to live with rejection, especially if there are longer term implications or potential for improving the situation.
In relationships many of us have experienced a break up or not feeling like a priority for someone we deeply care about.
I have noticed that there is often the temptation to feel like the world revolves around us. It's natural for us to think about ourselves, our hurt feelings, the impact of rejection on our future. However, it is also crucial to remember that rejection from someone is often personal and has more to do with their own reasoning of right and wrong, than it being all about who they have rejected. It's best to think of such situations as a 'mismatch' of things like traits, habits, beliefs, etc.
Now, you can decide whether you want to change yourself or things you do, every time someone rejects you or something you do...
While taking feedback or criticism on board is an important source of growth, I strongly believe that we need to have a filter where we weigh these up against our own beliefs and then accept the final outcome.
Some may think that acceptance of situations is 'passive' behaviour, but it doesn't need to be.
For instance we can accept our bodies for as big or small, tall or short that they are, but still work towards improving them. We can accept feeling our emotions and know that they are temporary and still get on with life when we are ready. We can accept rejection or failure one day, but also take notes on what you would like to improve and change in future.
ACCEPTING OR REJECTING 'REJECTION'
Personally, I find that rejecting rejection is usually tiring, upsetting, a waste of energy and time.
People usually make choices believing that it’s the right thing to do. Only retrospectively can we look back and judge whether it was right or wrong. That too, varies from person to person.
Accepting rejection is therefore a way to minimise our suffering and be at peace for as much of the finite time in our lives, as possible.