How do you handle the pain of rejection? I find it very uncomfortable. My thoughts start to race. I get angry – I want to strike back. Then I start swimming with self-doubt – I feel like a total loser. It’s horrible. So, I was fascinated to learn that there’s a scientific reason for this.
It turns out our brains process rejection in a very similar way to physical pain. So, no wonder it feels super scary to send out our work. We want to protect ourselves from hurt.
This is a problem!
If we’re trying to sell our work, or sell ourselves as writers for hire, we have to be willing face rejection on a regular basis. But if we can’t face the thought of the pain that comes from being rejected, we’re unlikely to put ourselves out there.
It sounds like a vicious circle, doesn’t it? But don’t panic. There is something you can do about it, according to Guy Winch, psychologist and expert at dealing with rejection.
Firstly, if you’ve been rejected – don’t try to numb the pain, or run from it, refusing to ever put yourself out there again.
4 simple strategies to help you handle the fear or rejection
- Don’t suffer alone. Connect with supportive writer friends. Open up about your pain. Remind yourself that you belong to a community of writers, who have all been there. This will help you remember that both you and your words are appreciated.
- Make a list of your writing qualities. Be specific. What qualities have others previously admired in your writing? If you find this hard to do, keep a file of emails, letters and reviews praising your writing, and get it out whenever you’re feeling down or rejected.
- From this list, pick the most meaningful item and write a couple of paragraphs about how this makes you a valuable writer. Remind yourself how others have appreciated your writing in the past and how you might be appreciated in the future. Do this every day that you’re feeling down, following a rejection, until your spirits start to lift.
- Finally, instead of kicking yourself when you’re down, try Self Compassion, as I wrote about back in January.
This all might sound a bit cheesy. But it’s important. We act fast to help heal a physical wound, like a broken arm; but equally, we need to work quickly to heal our emotional wounds, such as being rejected. If we don’t, the wound will likely grow bigger, making us more risk-averse in the future, which will do nothing for our prospects of success.
Getting our writing out there is what it’s all about. So don’t let the pain (or fear) of rejection hold you back. Be kind to yourself and do whatever you need to, to repair those painful wounds, if and when you get turned down.
I hope you find this helpful. Do let me know how you get on.
Get in touch!
Is there something in your writing that you’re struggling with? Get in touch as I might be able to offer a useful suggestion in a future post. You can also just say hi – or give me some feedback or share a tip – I’d love to hear from you!
Thanks so much for reading! If you’re new to my blog, I’m Katy Segrove – animation writer, children’s author, writing coach and mum to cheeky 2-year old Otto.
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PS – if you’re really struggling with the fear of rejection and would like some one-to-one coaching to help you overcome this, sign up here or drop me a line and we’ll arrange a brief chat to talk you through it.