Rejection from publishers and agents was especially difficult for me because, like all sorts of artists, I poured my heart and soul into my writing. Although I heard stories about the many curveballs that can come from all directions in the publication process and how debilitating rejection can be if you aren’t prepared, it wasn’t until I faced it myself that I truly understood. Working through a series of rejections helped me learn five important lessons that, with conscious practice, helped to rekindle my confidence.
5 Life Lessons I Learned From Rejection
Consider the Bigger Picture
When proposal after proposal was rejected, my confidence was shaken, but I was able to muster the strength to move forward. I focused on the information in my book and my purpose for writing it in the first place. Although I wasn’t fully conscious of it at the time, the artistic process itself had taught me to solve problems with confidence. The practice of writing gave me the tools to carry on and carve a path forward. The very act of learning to write a proposal, let alone a book, was a huge accomplishment filled with many obstacles. It took a lot of courage to share my ideas in the first place. I knew from the writing process itself that I had choices.I was in a constant process of evaluating where I was, where I wanted to be, and what steps I needed to take to get there.From the beginning, the process taught me how to balance the tension between the contrasting experiences of disappointment or fear with sometimes surprisingly insightful discoveries I encountered along the way. I found that if I could broaden my vision to focus on the bigger picture rather than the rejection itself, I could find the courage to keep going. It was scary, but I did it anyway.
Connect with Your Inner Self
I learned the value of space, and silence, and reflection—thinking from the “inside-out.” Facing rejection with this sort of space allowed me to learn and let go, making room for new understanding and beliefs. The space and silence—not emptiness, but space with a sense and feel of dimension—created balance and allowed me to focus on what was most important. I found the breathing room to explore meaning in the rejection experience; it heightened my awareness and gave me permission to dream. The discovery of this space brought my deep intuitive self to the surface. I used the rejection experience to reflect, imagine, and visualize different scenarios. My writing improved as I experimented, and I opened to a perspective of discovery. As I worked through the rejection, I learned that each new bit of knowledge deepened and broadened my understanding. All along the way as I grew, I let go of things that no longer served me; previous learning that was no longer relevant was replaced by a higher level of awareness and skill. I worked hard as a writer, spending long hours, day after day, to achieve my goals. Taking time to explore my inner self this way motivated me to keep moving, and I experienced greater enjoyment in the process.
I learned that my perspective changed completely when I could step beyond what felt like a personal judgment in each rejection. When I did this, I was able to accept the feeling of vulnerability and move forward with a more playful mindset. That attitude heightened my mood and allowed me to hold my focus. It helped me move through the creative process without being hijacked by the past or distracted by other things. I learned that with a playful mindset, some things work and some do not, and it doesn’t matter. With one rejection after another, I learned to break things down and practice until I found the way to success. This process helped me identify my emotions and use them to help me think. I was able to explore the things I was feeling. A playful mindset helped me move past the rejections and gain the willpower to continue to create with unwavering faith and trust. You might think,“Playful? Are you kidding me? This is serious.” Yet, I learned that a playful approach can bring out the highest mental, creative, emotional, and even physical functioning you can experience.
Continue to Create Momentum
As a first time author, I often experienced dramatic and varying waves of confidence swings in my daily work. Some days, things went well and I felt strong and productive. Other days, I questioned my abilities or felt weak and insignificant. The rejections were an extension of this daily writing experience. I had to get past the need to achieve the approval of others and the feeling of not being good enough. I realized I had to take charge and find a way past the feelings of doubt and fear, transforming them into confidence and courage. The more I experienced the swing from fear to faith in myself, the more capacity I had to face the challenge of rejection and persevere. I learned I had choices. I could give up; I could sit in the feeling or resist for just a short time or forever; or I could choose to move through the tension of rejection in a certain way to create momentum and keep moving forward. Even though I noticed fear begin to grab hold, I moved past it and chose to transform the setback into an opportunity to create a new beginning.
Choose another Pathway
Some rejections came with comments and some did not, but either way there were hidden gifts that came with each experience. I found that every rejection offered a path to valuable insight that I might not have gained in any other way.They gave me an opportunity to look at my writing with a new mindset and see the dynamic perspective of another way forward. I gained awareness through writing and re-writing and surrender to new ways of achieving my goal. The option of many pathways forward was one of the most fascinating aspects of the process. I realized that goals aren’t necessarily achieved in a straight line, and there is more than one correct path. I became curious about the potential of taking things apart and putting them back togetherin a new way. It helped me create a clear sense of purpose and forge a new path with a different kind of momentum. I found balance between the things I tried to make happen and the things that happened to me. Essentially, I learned that the openness to take a different path could lead to new discoveries all along the way.
With conscious practice, these five lessons served as a catalyst that built my confidence and courage in the face of rejection. They helped me use the rejections to build resilience, gain insight, and strengthen the relationship between me and the world at large. Now that my first book is published, I understand that writing and publishing is a continuing cycle of perpetual growth and progress. Knowing that, I can look courageously beyond rejection to see the success that lies just ahead.