“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” –Dale Carnegie
Ejecting Instead of Risking Rejecting
There it was, the moment in which I made my exit after conversing with a beautiful girl for the past 30 minutes.
The time came and I already had mentioned I needed somewhere to be, so now’s the time to get the number; it’s either now or never. You know you’re never going to see her again. Just ask for the number; she obviously likes you.
My inner dialogue ran at the speed of light, pressuring me to prolong the conversation. Then I walk away, with “It was great to meet you.” A quick exchange of smiles occurs.
It’s Better If You Know Than to Wonder
I’ve been in this exact situation more times than I would like to admit. A conversation is going well with a brilliant girl with stunning looks to match. The images of us going out to dinner, laughing in the park, and gluing plastic googly eyes on everything start playing through my head. I flash a smile as I plan out my mini-dialogue on meeting again in the future, but I don’t do anything. Instead I surrender before the battle even begins and I walk away. “It was great to meet you”, I say once again.
Courage is Important
Truthfully, I fear rejection in the back of my mind and I only admit it to myself once every 1,000 times. It’s quite crippling but philosophically I realize how ridiculous it is because I know I’d much prefer a rejection than the lingering thought of “What if?” At least with rejection, you know.
All the other times I took the jump, I made the effort. I’ve been successful and I was infinitely happier. I’ve been rejected maybe two or three times and it felt like nothing. Sure, it stung for all of five seconds, but I still got away with a great conversation and a story to tell. You know, plenty of fish in the sea and all that.
So why is courage so important? Without it, you don’t take risks and you only dream. You only envision what you want so badly but you never take action. You don’t summon the courage to take risks because for some reason the possibility of rejection is just a crippling thought.
Regret Is the Worst
You know what? Over the years I’ve learned that rejection is a lot better than inaction. With inaction, there are tons of regret as I beat myself up.
Why didn’t I move forward? What would have happened had I made the jump?
How often does something similar happen in your life? Had you taken the jump and gotten rejected, there would have been no lingering regret. You would have known that hey, there’s still plenty of people out there and things to do. But no, you become dissatisfied with the uncertainty that inaction brings (or doesn’t bring).
You see, with action there are two possible outcomes. You either would have gotten the number, set up future plans, and had a great time, or could have been shut down. There is no doubt, no ambiguity. I know I would have been happier if I succeeded, but still alive even if I didn’t succeed. If you don’t take action, you default into the former with no results. You automatically lose when you fear rejection and so I lost.
The Benefits of Rejection
Another thing about rejection, you only become stronger as an individual. You learn from your mistakes and fine-tune where necessary. Perhaps your approach was wrong, or you just didn’t have great chemistry. I definitely learned from the couple of times I got shut down. I made my approach stronger, I became more interesting, I learned to present myself as who I really am, no holding back.
This idea of rejection preferable to inaction doesn’t only apply to one specific scenario such as dating. These ideas extend to almost every decision you can make. For example, you can’t possibly know whether or not you would have gotten that well-deserved raise had you not asked for it. How was your boss supposed to know you felt so unappreciated? Or not taking the chance with writing because you fear no one will like it?
Always Take the Chance
Remember, inaction is rarely the better option. Inaction leads to only one outcome, which is nothing; nothing changes with inaction. If you get rejected then nothing happens as well, but at least there’s the chance of you acquiring what you want. There is at least a fighting chance when you take the leap.
How to Summon the Courage
1. Remind yourself that inaction is literally the worst.
Consciously have the mindset that the worst thing you can do when it comes to action is doing nothing. Tell yourself over and over that even if you get rejected you took the chance and the next time around, you’ll only be better.
Inaction means nothing happens. Rejection means nothing has changed. At least if you took the risk then you gave yourself a fighting chance. Don’t settle for nothing.
2. Understand that rejection means improvement.
Every time you get rejected by anything, you can only learn from it and become stronger. You can analyze where you went wrong and then understand how you can execute better in the future.
Rejection can be dangerous if you only focus on the fact that you didn’t win. Don’t think like that because that does nothing but lower your self-esteem. Use rejection to your advantage; use it to become a better you.
3. Get rid of negative thoughts.
Usually what makes me afraid of rejection is when I am talking myself down. I’m making assumptions that there is even a chance of rejection. Then I only realize how ridiculous that is after I’ve already decided to do nothing
Diminish all negative thoughts by reminding yourself that you can’t possibly know if you’d succeed or not until you take the chance. Learn meditation if you have to, if you want to clear your head.
Are you going to get out there and take the chance, risking rejection and your ego for something better? Take Dale Carnegie’s advice; if you want something, you have to take action, not just sit at home thinking about it. If you get rejected then great, maybe you get stronger, but imagine that you break through and win? You’ll feel like a million bucks and that surely would have made all the difference.
I got rejected…in fact the girl said „Ew“ to me. I didn’t realize people still said „Ew“ in their mid 20’s, but hey man I’m actually glad she said that because it’s made me stronger.
In many instances when we think through it, risking rejection is a better alternative than not knowing or regretting. It is easier said than done, though, as like Myrko says, it is tied up with our self identity. I like Vincent’s point about separating our real identity from the ego. I am a fan of Eckhart Tolle’s work as well. What can I say, it may take a moment to get in touch with the NOW and connect with presence, but it is taking me quite a long time to get myself to that point. Oh…the struggle of it all.
To flip this idea on its head while still adhering to the sentiment, I’ll share a bit about myself:
I was the always-looking-for-and-finding-opportunities guy for a very long time. It was the only thing that made sense. Why wouldn’t I go for it? I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I’ll never know if I don’t try. Facing that rejection is far, far better than being left by the curb, wondering „what if?“
Until I realized I was looking so hard for that meaningful, balanced, awesome relationship that I was rejecting many parts of my inner world, and they were getting out of control, turning me into a person I never ever wanted to be.
Now I’m working very hard at putting away those desires and replacing them with the mental health I know I need to get to the end goal of fantastic relationship. I’m asking my inner world to come out in hopes that I’ll build a great relationship with myself, and I’m going to have to be the one rejecting all of the things I know aren’t what I want.
@Daniel Wallen: Thank you, Daniel. It is one of the more difficult aspects of daily life, but it is a huge learning opportunity in most cases. You’re right. You have to expect both sides because it’s simply unavoidable.
Brilliant piece. Learning to cope with failure was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, but it’s also one of the most beneficial things I’ve ever done. You can’t expect more happiness without sadness with it, nor can you expect more success without some failure attached.
@Mike Manciel: Hi Mike,
Sorry for taking so long to get back to you. This article was actually written by me as a guest post, but I appreciate your comment. Fear of rejection is something that is instilled at a young age. For example, being wrong when is very similar to rejection. Children in school, whether elementary or high school/college, are deathly afraid of shouting out answers or raising their hands because they fear being wrong. No one tells them that they should try anyways because that’s how you learn. No one tells them this vital message and so they carry it on into adulthood. Fear of rejection, of being wrong, is just too much for most people.
This a a great post that makes a lot of sense. I think the idea of embracing rejection is something that needs to be encouraged more often. There is so much that can be learned from being shot down in life. Most importantly how to get back up and keep moving forward. I enjoy your writing. Keep up the good work..
@Myrko Thum: I agree with you Myrko. There is a sense of identity with your accomplishments a lot of it has to do with ego. When you can separate yourself from ego then you become very powerful because you realize your identity isn’t in the ego. Many of your fears lose their powers.
Eckhart Tolle’s „A New Earth“ does a great job arguing this and gives good steps on separating yourself from the ego.
I think one of the main reasons why you fear rejection is because it is associated with your identity: „If you get rejected, you are less worth.“ This is the basic dialog in the mind. So if you can disassociate your true identity with the situation, rejection looses much of it’s power to inject fear in you.
Thanks for a nice guest-post, Vincent!