Hey you! Yeah you! Guess what? You’re pathetic and nobody will ever like you! Did that hurt? Yes? Keep reading in order to learn to not be hurt by such comments!
Let me first explain how this video and subsequent blog post even came to be!
I felt like writing this would be a good idea because back in March, I was in Madrid. I was trying over and over and over again to make a video on dealing with rejection but, I just couldn’t get it to turn out the way I wanted it to and was walking back into the hostel, defeated and thinking that I wouldn’t bother with the video when an Argentinian guy I’d met the day before asked me what I was doing. I explained the situation and was about to go back inside when he stood up, tossed away his cigarette away and told me to give him my Go pro and that he’d record for me. I was shocked at how willing he was to help, but still felt guilty that I was taking him away from what ever he was planning on doing. He insisted, so I decided to give it a shot. I ended up really liking the finished product compared to the other garbage I’d filmed earlier during my several failed attempts. He couldn’t speak English and my video was in English, so he asked me what I was taking about in the video after we’d finished filming. I explained and he told me that his friend who I’d coincidentally also met the day before had problems dealing with rejection. I asked him to go and get his friend to see if I could at least try and help him. He got his friend and I attempted to explain the contents of the video to him in Spanish. I don’t know how to explain the look on this man’s face as I explained these concepts to him. It was a mix between somebody who’d just seen a ghost and somebody in the audience on the Oprah Winfrey show who’d just gotten a car. He looked so humbled and shaken. Afterwards, I asked him if it all made sense and he said yes and thanked me. It looked as if his life had changed at that very moment. This instance still crosses my mind periodically, so I thought I should finally sit down and try and turn it into a blog post!
A Random side note!
Let me just take this moment to emphasize the fact that you never really know when languages will come in handy! The Argentinian guy and his friend spoke no English. If I hadn’t taken the time to learn Spanish, none of this would’ve happened. We would’ve walked past each other in the common room at the hostel and probably never would have spoken to each other! Languages allow you to branch out and meet many people that you wouldn’t otherwise have been able to communicate with! Many people speak English, yes, but to say the whole world speaks English would be dishonest and ignorant. Your future best friend, business partner or significant other might not speak English! Learning new languages might allow you to meet them! Anyway, back to rejection because that’s the topic of this post!
Fear of rejection is natural
Rejection is something that we’re all afraid of. I’ve never met anybody who wasn’t afraid of at least some form of rejection and the people who claim to be immune to it are lying. Fear of rejection is natural. It’s a biological survival mechanism. Fearing rejection made us more likely to refrain from doing things that would result in us being expelled from the group and groups meant survival thousands of years ago. I’m not going to get any deeper into the science than that, but I want you to understand that there’s nothing wrong or unnatural about your fear of rejection. It’s normal and makes perfect biological sense.
Just reframe it!
If you’ve already read the article, you’ll already know that I’m a fan of reframing situations and looking at them in different lights. This works for anxiety and also works for dealing with rejection.
With anxiety, we must first remind ourselves that anxiety doesn’t exist inside of our minds, but rather outside as external stimuli. We take outside stimuli and allow them to pass through our mental filters and choose how we want to interpret said stimuli. Going on a roller coaster is an external stimulus, but we chose to interpret it as an enjoyable experience when it passes through our mental filters. Trust me! I went on the leviathan at wonderland. It was either interpret it as an enjoyable experience or just die of fear in my seat. Going for your driving test is also an external stimulus, but when it passes through you mental filter, you choose to interpret it as a negative and scary experience. See? It’s YOUR choice. You have the power to reframe different situations in order to alleviate the anxiety they cause. This is not easy. Faaar from it, but it can be done. The same goes for rejection!
The reason that rejection hurts so much is because we take it personally. Let’s look at three possible, but hypothetical instances of rejection!
Got stood by a tinder date?: It’s obviously because your ugly, hopeless and unloveable!
Got ignored by that stranger walking their dog when you wished them a merry Christmas?: It’s because your socks don’t match and nobody wants to say hi to you anyway!
You didn’t get invited to that lit party on the weekend?: It’s because you’re a loser and nobody wants to hang out with you or even have you around!
These are the places our minds unfortunately wander to when we get rejected, but what if I told you that these thoughts were wrong?
Let’s reframe them!
Got stood by a tinder date?:
Maybe your date had a terrible day and doesn’t want to come out anymore. Maybe their dog is sick or they crashed their car.
Got ignored by that stranger walking their dog when you wished them a merry Christmas?:
Maybe they’re in a rush! Maybe they have their headphones in or maybe there distracted by the snow and the cold weather! Maybe they’re simply too anxious to respond to you and need to be directed to my blog! **Hint hint nudge nudge**
You didn’t get invited to that lit party on the weekend?:
They may have honestly just forgotten or don’t have enough room! Maybe they get noise complaints when too many people show up at their place!
I’m not trying to say that you should be delusional and see truly negative situations in positive lights! I am, however trying to say that we can reframe certain situations because lot of the time people aren’t necessarily rejecting you, they’re rejecting the situation! What do I mean by that? Let me explain with some examples.
Imagine that you’d just won the lottery. You’d be in a great mood and would be way more likely to donate to the homeless or to help that annoying lost stranger who isn’t understanding the directions your giving them no matter how many times you’ve explained it to them.
Now imagine that you’re having a terrible day. Maybe you crashed your car bringing your sick cat to the vet. You’d probably reject the homeless person’s pleas for food and money and you’d probably tell the lost stranger to screw off. Are you rejecting them directly? No! You don’t even know them, so why the hell would you reject them? You’re rejecting the situation. If you’re doing this, is it not safe to assume that other humans are doing the exact same thing? Yes it is!
R.I.P to my Ego
I’m now going to give you a few examples of me getting savagely rejected and how I reframed the situations and left unhurt.
I was at a bar one day and a random girl approached me and told me I was very attractive. Touched and surprised, I responded by saying “Thanks, you too” and before I could even utter another word, she says in a seemingly disappointed tone “But I have a boyfriend…” and walks off. I could have been hurt in this situation, I could have compared myself to this random stranger’s boyfriend and felt like he was better than me, I also could have picked out a coffin for my ego, but I just reframed the situation
- She had a boyfriend so it’s good that she was being faithful and rejecting me.
- Maybe her boyfriend cheated on her and she was trying to get him back, but caught herself at the last moment.
There are many different reasons as you can see. It wasn’t necessarily me who was being rejected, it was the situation, so why would I allow myself to be hurt by her rejecting me if it wasn’t necessarily me as a person who was getting rejected ?
**This is the example I used in the video**. I was lost in Madrid and asked the closest person for directions. She looked me dead in the eyes and kept walking. I thought she hadn’t heard me and so I was like “hellooooo” to get her attention(all in Spanish so it wasn’t the language barrier) and she just kept walking. This hurt for a second, but then I remembered to reframe it
- There are a lot of people who harass people on the street in Spain because they’re trying to get them to buy things. Maybe she thought I was one of them.
- Maybe she thought I was trying to get her phone number
- Maybe she straight up didn’t speak Spanish and felt ashamed to admit it.
See? Once again it wasn’t me who was being rejected, it was the situation. There are so many different possibilities. She doesn’t know who I am, so why would she reject me, a complete stranger? It was the situation that she was rejecting. Who knows? I may have done the same thing under similar circumstances.
I asked a guy for directions as I exited the subway in 2014 and he started explaining how to get where I was going and then scoffed and just walked away. This hurt me quiet a bit because I didn’t know how to reframe situations like this back then. Once again, I was a complete stranger. He didn’t know who I was, so why would he reject me? What reason did he have for rejecting ME? He didn’t have a reason. He was rejecting the situation once again.
- Maybe he was just in a rush
- Maybe I was the tenth person bugging him for directions that day
- Maybe he just didn’t feel like talking to people that day.
If you ask somebody out on a date and they’re not down, thats cool! You have no idea what’s going on in their life at that moment, but what ever it is could translate into them rejecting the situation. If you ask your manager for a promotion and get turned down, that sucks, but remember that you don’t know what going on in your manager’s life. Maybe somebody else got the position and it no longer needs to be filled. Always try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. You’ll understand them better and feel less hurt by their apparent rejection. It’s a win win for all parties involved!
My closing words
There are so many factors that lead to us rejecting certain situations. As I said before, if we’re rejecting certain situations, then why do we always assume that other people aren’t doing the same thing? Why do we still choose to take it personally? Honestly I think it’s because a lot do people either aren’t aware of these techniques or that they’ve just never thought of rejection as something that’s not negative. It took me a long time to realize these things too and rejection still does hurt me, but nowhere near as much as it used to. The ability to reframe situations even has me enjoying rejection at times. Instead of me taking it personally, I sometimes try to view it as an opportunity to improve myself and to learn and to get better. When I was in Amsterdam, a store clerk insulted my Dutch and imitated it to make fun of me. I was hurt briefly, but I left the store in a good mood because I had been humbled (Not that I thought my Dutch was that great to begin with) and also had a better idea of how I could improve it. Besides, it’s hard to learn and grow when all you ever get is positive reinforcement, so rejection can be good and enjoyable.
Remember, folks, I’m not trying to make you guys think so positively that you guys end up delusional. Sometimes you won’t be able to reframe situations to make them seem positive. Sometimes things will be bad and that’s life. I’m only here to tell you that there IS a difference between a situation getting rejected and you personally getting rejected and that you should try to see the difference whenever you can!!
As always, push your comfort zones and never stay comfortable!
This picture was taken from Toronto Island in Canada