If you have ever searched for a job, house, tried to publish your book, tried to land an acting role or dated for an extended period of time you know what feels like an endless stream of what feels like rejection.
It's basically what feels like the Daily NO! Emails, phone calls etc. when they are nice tell you how talented you are but after careful consideration, you're not wanted.
In many cases, you just never hear back. The potential love interest, home buyer, employer just disappears. POOF!
It can feel like rejection and after several months it can feel like despair. "Just keep going!" friends and family will tell you. You hear them and then get a good night's sleep to muster the energy for another day of self-promotion.
Sales Begin with NO!
My father, a master of sales, always taught me that sales meetings begin with "no!" This works in business. You can speak to what's missing in the product or service. But this doesn't work so well when applying for grants or dating, for example. No means no. Or no means, "apply next year." Or simply just an invitation to walk away and don't come back.
It's not Rejection, it's No Fit
A recent PhD graduate looking to publish, teach and practice, I have had my own six months of no, no, no, no, no. Of course there have been some YESes in there, but sometimes the Nos just seem louder.
A survival strategy during this period, I decided to rename these kindly worded emails "No-fits" instead of "Rejections."
I don't really know if whatever organization that rejected me was what I really wanted anyway. Sure, egos want to be admired and chased by everyone. That doesn't mean these positions were a fit for either of us.
The other advantage of shrugging and just saying "No Fit" instead of "I've been Rejected" is that you cannot then spend the next hour beating up on yourself. Rejection thoughts lead us down the emotional scale...not up. You head towards depression not possibility when thinking about rejection.
By contrast, thinking about "No Fit" turns your attention towards what a "good fit" might be. It's a more solution oriented framing and one that honors the needs of both parties -- you and them!
Perhaps trying to get a job, partner or house that isn't ours is like the evil step-sisters trying to fit into Cinderella's shoe. In the original story, these sisters even cut off their toes to win the prince.
It honestly doesn't seem worth it. I suspect things would have worked out better for the sisters had they just shrugged and looked for the right fit.
It didn't occur to me until today that Groundhog Day -- in the Bill Murray film sense -- comes at the perfect time each year.
In the film, Murray keeps living the same day over and over until he learns his lessons about how to live a good life. The film is very Buddhist in message -- but packages the lesson far more comically than Buddhism usually does.
Groundhog day 4 weeks after New years resolutions!
I think the reminder of Bill Murray's repetitive day every February is perfect. We made our resolutions in January...maybe the same darn ones we made last year. In four weeks, we can see that we have likely -- in many cases -- gone back to our own habits.
There are areas of my life that just don't seem to change. Each year, I celebrate the progress and good abundance of the year prior, but some of those areas feel just like the darn movie.
Groundhog day is a Fierce day
For the brave, Groundhog Day can be as fierce a day as the Jewish Day of Atonement. It's the day when you take stock of what areas of your life seem like they are going no where. It might be in the area of finance, your body, relationships, work, your love life, etc.
I know, it hurts. It hurts me too...but I think it is a good day of reckoning. We're going to have to change...Bill Murray did. He couldn't out-think life to stop the endless repetition. He actually had to become a better person.
Yup. Sorry, we're going to have to shift. It feels uncomfortable -- the new way of being feels awkward at first. For me I think it's about vulnerability not actually doing more. Doing just gets me lots more of the same.
Stop Rearranging the furniture
Writer Anne Lamott tells fellow writers to go into that room that terrifies us...otherwise we'll spend our whole lives rearranging furniture in the rooms we already know. This is what Groundhog Day allows us to do.
I am wishing us all luck today as we consider where we continue to relive the same patterns and experiences.
May we all be brave enough to go through the new door and discover what's waiting for us...
Sarah Federman, PhD
Enjoy these short blogs and videos designed to bring you a little cheer.
My other blog Language of Conflict addresses the importance of word choice and narration in conflict.
Finish and Flourish supports writers struggling to complete projects.