Rejection and the accompanying feelings of failure are not something anyone looks forward to in life, whether under professional or personal circumstances.  But, are we always able to see the implications?  The lesson?  The gift?

Aside of comments like that of Groucho Marx, who has famously been quoted as saying he “would not want to be a member of any club that would accept [him] as a member”, most of us see rejection as a sign that we haven’t “made the grade”, “passed the test”, “met the standard”, etc… But truly, is that to be the takeaway?  What can we learn from such situations?

First of all, not all seeming “rejections” are permanent.  However disappointing, denials may simply be delays.  Another, perhaps even better opportunity may come along when we may be better prepared for the role, responsibility or situation. 

Sometimes one rejection can encourage us to look for other options or opportunities.  A women I met some years ago spoke to me of how one disappointment, one rejection lead her to pursue an entirely different, wonderful and fulfilling career she would never have even looked into much less considered, had she not faced a seemingly total failure through rejection.  

Alternatively,  it is also possible to pursue your objective at all costs, only to discover that it is just not what you expected at all. Occasionally, I run into people who speak of how much they have pushed, and pushed and pushed in order to meet an objective…Gone after what they thought they wanted, finally being accepted only to feel a hollowness in the achievement.  Wondering why?  Maybe they weren’t able to see the gift in the rejection?  Perhaps it was about letting go of one dream, one goal, one person or group in order to make room for another, more desirable and fulfilling one.

In addition, facing the challenge of dealing with rejection, and seeking to understand some of the aspects surrounding the rejection, can expand our ability to perceive what went into the decision made by whoever may have rejected us, and discover what purpose she/he/they may be serving in providing us with this new, potential lesson. For example, the experience can show us not to personalize our interactions so greatly.  Often, such rejections seem personal, but may be more of a reflection on the limitations of the individual(s) doing the rejecting than it is on us. In other words, it may have more to do with the “rejecter” than with ourselves.

Rejection also does give us the opportunity to look at what happened in the situation: how could it have been handled differently by us?  What can we gain as a takeaway for the next time another opportunity may come along. It can be very valuable to learn everything possible from the situation to help us move forward, and let the rest go. Understanding and perspective can be great healers of disappointment, and bring about some fantastic tools of greater awareness and resilience.  As observes: “Some people are going to reject you simply because you shine too bright for them.  That’s ok. Keep Shining.”