Embrace rejection with your full chest.

Man is by nature a social being. Everywhere you go, there are different groups, associations, movements, or parties where all the members are bound by the same cause. They share one another's agitations, beliefs, and ideas.

We love to be loved. Seeking acceptance is a stimulus that releases feel-good hormones in our body system, so we would do anything to have it. And good enough, there’s a lot of acceptance to go around no matter how cruel we think the world is.

Unfortunately, because life is not a bed of roses, there will be times when you will be served the bitter pill of rejection in its full dosage. Yes, rejection will hit you right in the face every now and then. It’s a part of life. What you do with that rejection is what matters.

Rejection is the kick in the butt we all need

Humans can get really cocky. Just one taste of success and we have arrived. That’s why we sometimes need a kick in the butt to get our heads out of the clouds, and rejection does that perfectly.

A while ago, I started learning how to play the guitar and sing at the same time. After a few days of practice, I could manage to strum some basic chords and sing too. It felt good and I thought I should let the world see my new skill. So I took videos and started sharing them on Instagram. That got me a lot of good comments from friends and even total strangers. I felt great. I’m gonna be a rock star!

Then one day, someone burst my bubble. She told me I sucked on the guitar (looking back now, I actually did) and advised me to take more lessons before sharing more videos. That one comment did a lot of damage to my swelling confidence. It even discouraged me from playing the guitar and I stopped sharing videos. A few years later, I shook it off, picked up the guitar again, practised harder and got back to sharing videos and they are a lot better now. Way better than before!

Here’s the thing: whatever you’re good at right now can always get better. There’s always room for a tweak, remix, remodelling, or refresh. It took me a bad review to realize this.

See rejection as a stepping stone, not a stumbling block.

Every time our ideas are not accepted or our efforts are not appreciated, it is okay to sulk and feel bad. Break a flower vase if that’s what makes you feel better. But it could mean there’s something we need to do better. Lean back a little and try a new approach.

In response to a question about his missteps, famous inventor Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed 10,000 times — I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.” Every time you rise from a rebuff, you come out a little bit stronger.

Rejection hurts, but learning to embrace it with your full chest will do you a lot more good. Too many yeses are bad for progress and improvement. That’s the reason people don’t try new things and stay in their comfort zone.

If we don’t try new things, there’s no way we can improve. Every single “no” will make that one “yes” more meaningful.

Next time you get rejected, sip some tea and try again.

Illustration by Dawn Kim for TED.

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