Rejection can be difficult to process.
When people leave us, we often want to know why so that we can grasp the fault that is in us and make corrections.
Yet, in every area of rejection, from romance and family to business and ministry, the sting of someone leaving isn't always accompanied by an answer to the question: Why?
Rejection is just as much about the rejector as it is about the rejected. How often have we heard about people who left great spouses, rejected the most qualified applicant, or left churches that didn't necessarily do anything wrong? Honestly, some people didn't know what they were signing up for, while some realized that the costs of continuing in that relationship were too high - so they left.
How do you handle rejection? If you're like me, it can hurt to put yourself out there and feel the sting of no support from people whom you thought had your back.
Handling rejection starts with being honest about how you feel, speaking to someone you trust about where you are, and taking stock of how much value to put in the rejection. Like a product that a company puts out to market that receives low sales volume, the company takes the product back, determines if it needs changes, and often doesn't change a thing except for the target people and the location.
As you start your analysis, let's look at five areas to address when handling rejection.
1 - How do you feel?
Take a moment to breathe. How did the rejection make you feel? This is a time of total honesty and transparency. Whether you speak to a trusted confidant, pour your soul out in prayer, or write your words in a journal, take the time to express your raw emotions without hindrance. Right or wrong, holding back these emotions, depending on the type of rejection, can be unhealthy and come back in ways that we can regret. Keep your feelings flowing so they aren't hindering progress.
2 - Processing what happened
With your feelings out of the way, ask yourself, "what happened?"
This can be difficult to analyze and quantify, depending on the situation. For instance, it's easy to understand why we were rejected from passing a class if we didn't do the homework or score well on the tests. On the other hand, understanding why our romantic relationship didn't work out is harder to make plain.
In business, the potential deal could be going well until, seemingly out of the blue, the business partner rejects the deal. They may or may not give the reasons for the rejection, ranging from risk concerns to background checks. Either way, they pulled out of the deal, and you need to analyze why, if possible. In ministry, we wonder why people leave our churches. Rarely are there opportunities to find out the exact reasons a person decided to leave, but it does help to try and analyze patterns of behavior as people depart.
Asking what happened and taking the time to figure out potential reasons for rejection can be beneficial. Yet, then again, there is another point to consider.
3 - Is it worth thinking about?
Think through the concept of cancel culture. Someone we loved and held in high esteem yesterday can make one mistake, and the same ones that sang that person's praises are the same ones refusing to give second chances. Barring anything egregious, many of the victims of cancel culture lose jobs, positions, opportunities, and stability due to a tweet that went wrong.
So I need to ask you, as you think about the rejections you experience - Is it worth thinking about?
On dating apps, you're judged first on your appearance. You could be the best person in the world, but if your outfit doesn't look expensive enough, someone will reject you.
In business, you could have 2,000 customers love your new product, but ten say it's horrible.
In ministry, 50 people could join your movement to feed the city while 3 call you a heretic and a false prophet.
If you do anything worthwhile in life, you'll experience rejection. Before you dwell on it, cry about it, and overanalyze it all, ask the question: Is it worth thinking about?
4 - What needs to change?
After determining that the situation warrants consideration, it's time to think about what needs to change.
A divorce is, arguably, the hardest type of rejection to receive. You've said vows to each other, served one another, and given your all to this person. Then, almost out of nowhere, your spouse decides it's over. Whether you saw it coming or were surprised, this is an extremely personal rejection of the very person you are. Someone saw the best and worst of you and said, "I don't want you." That is a hard rejection.
What would be some changes to make after divorce? First, change the outlook you have of yourself. You are worthy of love, and perhaps, this divorce resulted from mistakes on both sides of the marriage. Next, change your outlook on romantic relationships. This may come through counseling to help you make adjustments in your approach to romance but getting to a place of not giving up on what is possible. Lastly, if issues such as adultery, abuse, or other egregious situations occurred that were your fault, determine to find out the root causes and make changes as necessary.
In business, products, services, and processes need to be analyzed and changed to create the most optimum situation for growth. Using production calculations such as Six Sigma help to determine what works well and what needs to be changed.
For ministries that aren't growing, something needs to change. Whether evangelism needs to increase or leadership changes are required, change needs to occur until the best setup for success is achieved.
Can you think of anything that needs to change due to the rejections? List them and make plans to move forward.
5 - Defining the "Problem."
Lastly, we need to define the problem. While not all rejection is personal, seeing patterns of rejection in your attempts to succeed can indicate a problem that needs to be addressed.
If 10 out of 10 requests for dates are rejected, what is the problem? Is it your approach? Is it your clothing and personal presentation? Or even your attitude? You may want to seriously ask close friends and family for honest feedback to see what the problem may be so you can see success in your dating life.
If your business constantly stalls and sales are horrible, the problem needs to be determined. Assuming the products and services are good, the problems would lie with the processes. Hiring a firm to help with advertising, leadership training, or customer service would be ways to help build opportunities to define and resolve the problems.
In ministry, if people are constantly leaving, then the problem needs to be defined. Do people feel "at home" at your church? Do people feel connected? Are people growing spiritually? Do they feel rejected (there's a bit of irony here; if the people feel rejected, that would be why the church is rejected)? Ministry, at its core, reaches people. If people aren't being reached, the problem needs to be defined.
In conclusion, your rejection is an opportunity to make a change. And I need you to understand something before you start your analysis; be ready to change but realize that you're not always the thing that needs to change. Rejection is fickle. You can be rejected today and be the most accepted person tomorrow. Be careful when assigning blame - It's not always you. Rejection is part of the process of success. When you're rejected, make adjustments and press forward. Don't give up on love, business, promotion, or ministry. Rejection is simply part of the process.
Peace to you on your journey to greatness.