May 28th, 2008
I haven't done a "Wellness Wednesday" post for awhile. Today I was thinking about how as part of wellness you need to learn how to embrace rejection. Well, maybe not embrace it, but at least re-think it.
There are all sorts of heavy feelings tied up with the word rejection, such as hurt, shame, and embarrassment. We all deal with it, whether in the form of relationships, our work, or simple exchanges with other people in the world. As a creative person putting their art into the world, hearing the word "no" is to be expected.
In the past, I've avoided putting myself out there because of the fear of rejection. Somewhere down deep, I was saying, "Aha, rejection, I've got you now! If I don't apply (show up, try it, etc), I won't have to experience you at all!" Well, this is wrong on many counts and the sad part is that it only ends up hurting me more.
Patti twittered the this quote the other day:
To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.- Joseph Chilton Pierce
I've definitely been scared of being wrong. It's a fear that follows me around and shows up in my work, in my relationships, in my conversations. In a group, I might not speak up because I don't want conflict. Or I may get into a heated discussion with someone I care about because I want to be right. Some of this wanting to be right is all tied up with rejection and I'm slowly, but surely learning to let it go. I don't need nor do I want to always be right. I'm letting those stressful attempts at perfection (fruitless and never-ending attempts) go. I'm learning to lose. And through losing, I win.
I remember sometime last year when the hubster told me, "there's no such thing as failure." There is trying and there's not trying and every "try" is an experience through which you learn and grow. I think we can all look back on relationships, jobs, moments where we felt rejected in that moment, but now we realize it was for the best and simply part of our path.
So, why embrace rejection? Well, if you're putting your work out into the world, more rejections may mean that you are stretching, that you are going for it. You may get more "no" responses than you normally would, but you also open yourself up for the "yeses!"
It's also important to remember that rejections usually aren't personal. That gallery, job, person, experience may not be what they're looking for at that time (or the right thing for you either), but it doesn't necessarily mean they don't like your work. So, when rejection comes my way, I think to myself, "O.k., that isn't the right place for my work right now. Good to know. Moving on."
Speaking of moving on, as Julia Cameron says, the only cure for criticism is creativity (I'm paraphrasing here.) And while rejection isn't exactly criticism, it can sting just the same. Unfortunately, it's all to easy to let a "no" stop us dead in our tracks. I can tell you from experience, the best antidote is to get back to work in whatever way you can. As soon as you start to create again, the fog of doubts will lift and you'll get connected with what you love.
I've been putting my work out there more (and need to do much more of it.) Today I received two rejections (one very nice, one brief and form-like) and one acceptance. And that's one yes I would not have had, if I hadn't put myself out there. There's no doubt that some rejections are more painful than others. You may need to grieve a bit, but then pull yourself up and get back to it. As for me, I got back into it and had some fun with acrylic and ink on paper and made the painting at the top of this post! ("Birdhouse", 8"x10", acrylic, ink, pencil on watercolor paper.)