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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

How to Deal With Failure and Rejection


Don't let anyone, or any rejection, keep you from what you want. ~ Ashley Tisdale
What should you do when you don't know what to do, when you just want to give up and quit?
How do you deal with the fear caused by failure or the trauma of rejection and loss?
Life doesn't always go according to our 'plan'. Have you noticed? As members of the human family, we all deal with the after-effects of failure and rejection - the sense that we're just not good enough, that we'll never have what we want, that maybe we don't deserve happiness or success. We mentally curl up into a ball and hope the world will just go away.

Fear and rejection are very subjective perceptions to perceived loss. They are based on a false assumption that the world (for you, at least) has just ended. You'll never recover. The pain will always be there. Life as you know it is finished. (Did I get that right?)
Unfortunately, that's not the best response. What happened... well, it happened. You can't change it. But you can change how you react and respond. You can become stronger, smarter and better at adapting to life's challenges. Try these eight keys to change your perception and rediscover the joy and peace that God promised you.

Admit it: OK, so maybe it didn't go as well as you'd hoped. You tried! That's more than most of the population does. Fear of failure or rejection can keep you from enjoying life's experiences and lessons. Fear prevents people from attending social events (I'm too shy.) from trying for a better job (I'm probably not good enough.) or from attempting anything new. Recognize that fear is a false mindset, not Truth (2 Tim. 1:7).

Expect it. Don't be tempted to feel that you're alone, the only one going through 'stuff' (I Cor. 10:13). Failure is not final, it's a step in the process we call Life. How many times does a toddler fall down before she masters walking? How many balls does a batter miss before he hits a home run? Failure is a learning process, not a judgment. The same is true of rejection. Don't allow other people's opinions or your own feelings of inadequacy overpower your opportunities. Life is meant to be enjoyed, regardless of the set-backs (John 10:10).

Rethink it. What happened to you is not you. I used to tell my daughter, "You can handle anything when you know it's temporary." Instead of believing that your life will be like this f-o-r-e-v-e-r, recognize that all things change (2 Cor. 4:18). There is life after death, divorce, job loss, rejection or failure of any kind. Look for a positive spin.

Learn from it. Every experience, both good and bad, is designed to move you forward, to teach and train you for the next stage of life. Ask yourself, "What can I take from this? What did I learn?" If it was a relationship failure, consider how you want to change before becoming involved again. There's a lesson in every situation if you look for it (Ps. 119:71).

Limit it. Don't magnify the issue, downsize it. It's only one event or issue in a lifetime of possibilities. Yes, life can be tragic at times, but tragedy is not the END. Remind yourself that you are strong (Joel 3:10), that God has already given you the power to overcome that situation (I John 5:4), and that you are more than a conqueror (Rom. 8:7). Don't let the devil have the last word.

Laugh at it. Laughter short-circuits fear, worry and depression. It really is the best medicine for whatever ails you (Prov. 17:22). Laughter pulls your thoughts and emotions away from self (poor me). It releases positive hormones that make you feel better and happier. If you can, find some humor in that negative situation. Laugh at yourself; "Wow, you should hear what I did/said/thought! Bet I'll know better the next time. Ha, ha, ha."

Forgive it. Often, our perceived failures are really other people's issues. Don't take responsibility for their mistakes. You can never control another person, only yourself (your own thoughts, words and actions). 'What they did' is just that - they did it. No matter how badly you've been treated, it isn't YOU, it's them.

Release negative feelings so they don't eat at you like mental acid. Forgiveness is always for your benefit. It's so important that Jesus made it part of the Lord's Prayer - so we would be reminded daily to forgive. When Peter asked how often to forgive, Jesus told him 70 times 7 (Matt. 18:22). Jesus, on the cross, prayed that God would forgive his persecutors (Luke 23:34). Can we, should we do less?

Forget it. Move on. The Apostle Paul killed Christians with great relish until he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. Suddenly, his entire life's focus was turned upside down. No matter what happened to you or what you've done, it's behind you. Paul's advice? Forget that stuff behind you, it's in the past and you can't change it. Instead, go after the goodness and blessing that's in front of you (Phil. 3:13 my paraphrase).

Jesus stated that He came specifically to give you 'life more abundantly' (John 10:10). However, you can't be open to that life, full of blessing and abundance beyond measure if you're hanging on to failure and rejection, the pains and hurts of yesterday.
Perhaps you've heard the story of the monkey who wanted some peanuts in the bottom of a jar. He'd reach in his hand and grab a fist-full of nuts, but then he couldn't remove his hand from the jar. He was trapped because he wouldn't let go!

When faced with failure or rejection, use what you can (lessons, ideas, insights) and let the rest go. Like an over-stuffed closet that has no room for new clothes, your mental and emotional health requires that you clean out the negatives to make room for more blessing, more happiness, more love, joy and peace.

For more information on developing life skills, better relationships, and becoming the best YOU possible, visit and sign up to receive your FREE subscription to "What Matters Most", a weekly ezine of inspiration, motivation and humor from a Christian perspective.

Ruth Seebeck has built a reputation over the last three decades as a life-skills coach, mentor, Christian counselor and friend. She is a business owner, author, community volunteer and event coordinator whose passion is helping others overcome life's challenges.
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1 comment:

  1. Awesome tips! My approach is to remind yourself of the bigger picture. What are you trying to accomplish? Failure is a natural step on the way to success. Edison failed 10000 times before inventing the light bulb. His attitude towards failure was the deciding factor of his success. I blogged about this today at