I recently asked other entrepreneurs what topics they’d like me to share on my blog and one topic that came up several times was this –
How do I deal with rejection as an entrepreneur?
I’m so glad this question was asked because not only is rejection so incredibly uncomfortable (and even painful), but it’s also absolutely inevitable if you’re going to be a successful business owner.
I’ve experienced plenty of moments of rejection in my years as a business owner and recently I had a moment of rejection that you may have experienced in your own business. I learned that a potential client who I’d spoken with a few days earlier (who I was really excited to work with!) had just changed their mind about working together.
It definitely threw me into a bit of a funk for the day.
The good news though is that I have a pretty good toolbox to deal with moments like this and by the next day I’d practically forgotten about this moment of rejection.
Here’s a peek at some of what I have in my own toolbox to help me deal with moments of rejection.
How I deal with rejection
I let myself feel it.
This is one of the essential first steps when something doesn’t feel good and it can take so much practice to do it!
Rejection triggers our “fight-flight-freeze” response in our brain the same way a physical threat to your safety, like an oncoming car, would. Our brain doesn’t know how to differentiate between if something is a life or death situation or a threat to our self-esteem. Actually acknowledging the feeling and naming it for what it is helps our brains to calm down.
Psychiatrist Dan Siegel has a nice catchphrase to remind you why naming your feelings is so important. He says “Name it to tame it” and has a quick little video on YouTube where he explains why labeling your feeling has such a powerful physiological effect.
When I was writing this blog post and looking for a quote on rejection so much of what I came across was about seeing rejection in a positive light and using it for fuel to keep going. That doesn’t really jive with my view on rejection and sounds a lot like toxic positivity.
Rejection can hurt and I don’t think glossing over it helps. I also don’t think being a successful entrepreneur requires you to become more stoic. Actually I think it requires you to do just the opposite – to acknowledge and sit with your emotions so that they don’t throw you off track, derail your confidence, or pop up and surprise you much later.
I didn’t stay silent.
Instead I told people in two entrepreneur communities I’m a part of.
When we experience rejection we run the risk of falling into a shame spiral. Shame tells us that something is wrong with us and the last thing it wants is for us to reach out to other people. The best way to break out of a shame spiral is to tell other people what’s going on.
Telling other people also helps remind you that moments like this are an inevitable part of the entrepreneur journey (which is essential when our brain is telling us there is something wrong with us!).
Telling other business owners can also help you to zoom out and think of if there are any practical steps to take in the situation.
I distracted myself and did something that makes me feel good.
This isn’t always possible to do depending on what you have on your schedule, but I was lucky that the urgent task I had on my calendar fit this criterion! I had a noon deadline to turn in my writing to my book coach. Writing helps me to get into a state of flow and brings me so much joy.
What brings you joy and helps you get into the state of flow? Or even just helps you to zone out for a little bit (sometimes watching Netflix for an hour, or two, isn’t the worst idea…).
Distraction isn’t a good long-term strategy for dealing with tough emotions and I’d definitely recommend doing it alongside the step of acknowledging how you’re feeling. When we combine naming our feeling with distraction it can often be just the trick to not get sucked under by the emotion while you’re waiting for the storm to pass.
I focused on the positive feedback I’ve received from clients.
I have a folder in my email inbox that I’ve created for moments just like this. Any time a client or colleague sends me an email that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside I drop it inside that folder.
This time I actually didn’t go to that folder though: I had two new emails serendipitously pop in my inbox with positive feedback from clients!
One from a client I’d recently wrapped up with thanking me for our work together and another from a client I just started with telling me how excited they are to begin implementing the tools I shared in our first session for managing stress.
Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. If you’re going to grow a business you have to find ways to manage the discomfort and pain that is an inevitable part of being a business owner.
When you’re faced with a moment of rejection I hope you’ll give one of these ideas a try yourself. If it helps you then leave me a comment (and I’ll screenshot your comment to add to my “positive feedback” folder!).
And if you’d like help learning how to regulate your emotions and recover faster from rejection, let’s talk about how my coaching can help you.