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I was bullied really badly in school. I was rejected over and over and over and no matter how many times I got that sting of rejection, I always went back for more because I just thought, if I can get it right, it will all be okay.
And when I say bullied, I don’t mean that some kids called me names, yes that did happen as well but it was also my teachers in school, I didn’t fit in and they had no idea how to handle me so they would try to get me to sit still and pay attention with put-downs and labels, but I was also physically bullied as well, punched, kicked and set on by groups of kids I didn’t even know, and I can tell you that all of it hurts!
It doesn’t matter if it’s a punch in the mouth or someone saying you look weird you have big lips, it really hurts and I took it really hard.
I took it to heart and I thought, “I’m not good enough”. And it’s interesting to think what my life would have been like if I kept going down that road, if I didn’t figure out how to flip this stuff over and face it. Where would I be, what would I be doing? Because I can guarantee that I wouldn’t have been able to help grow a company to reach the BRW Top 100, grow multimillion-dollar businesses, develop my own ‘Rapid Change Technologies’ therapy, have the confidence to coach and teach psychologists, doctors, athletes, celebrities and titans of business, or teach PhD students about mindset and business at Macquarie University…
The great news is after coming through this I developed my Rapid Rejection Release System™️ that I’ll explain in more detail further down the page…
How to overcome rejection is something I really want to discuss because it’s something that so many people are facing and it’s impacting their lives every day. That fear of rejection holding you back and stopping you from doing the things you want to do, but also stopping you from just being happy.
Most of us sustain emotional wounds through rejection every day.
It doesn’t matter if our experience is big, like getting divorced, or something that happened in the playground, like being told you have big lips, it hurts. It can really impact your mood, not just for that moment but the whole day or even a week, for some people months, because that wound festers, we re-live it over and over and poke at it.
So why do we care? Why do we take it so hard when a friend doesn’t accept a request or comment on our latest post on Instagram?
The answer is we need to fit in to survive. Our brains think they are helping us out, and this is the thing most people don’t get when it comes to negative and unwanted behaviour – you are getting something positive out of it somewhere, if it’s smoking or addictive gaming or overeating, even though on the outside your conscious mind hates it, your unconscious mind is getting a big reward so it keeps going back to that behaviour. And here’s the thing guys, your subconscious mind is 90% stronger than your conscious mind so you can’t just say, “don’t eat that cookie”, right, it’s not going to work, you have to make that change at an unconscious level!
So in our caveman lives, and even more recently, in our tribes and as hunter-gatherers we lived in that small close community and we depended on the group to survive. If you didn’t fit in and you were cast out of that tribe it’s pretty much a death sentence. You need that social interaction (something we have really been rediscovering lately) we need that closeness and companionship to be mentally healthy but also to help with hunting, getting enough food, having shelter, having a fire, you just can’t manage that all on your own.
Now we can survive on our own because we’ve got stoves and cars and supermarkets, so it’s not a danger anymore. If you get kicked out of your group now, you can just go find another one, but inside, that super strong unconscious mind is still telling us it matters. This is life and death: find a way to fit in.
So we are hardwired to think and feel this way. And so for me, as a kid getting told you don’t fit in felt like my world was going to end. And I think this is one of the reasons people love watching reality TV shows, because in all of them, someone gets voted off or kicked out, one by one and we really get magnetised to this idea because it feels so natural to us and we get emotionally involved and have our own ideas about who fits and who doesn’t and who should stay and who should go and it’s all safe because you’re at home on your sofa, so it’s great entertainment. But we are at risk of rejection every single day.
Dating, sports, gaming, friends, social media, family, work, there are so many ways we can get rejected.
And with that hurt (and let me tell you guys that the pain of rejection is activated from the same part of our brain as the one to signal actual physical pain, so when I was saying that being called weird looking or being told I’m slow in school, it really did feel to my brain the same intensity and level of pain as being kicked and punched) I really mean that literally.
But as bad as that initial pain is, it’s actually not where the damage is being done, that’s not the part that keeps it going for days or weeks or months. It’s how we take it on board and amplify it in our mind by repeating what was said internally or going bigger, they said I’m weird and I have fat lips and I think, “I’m ugly”.
We all have been in a situation where we’ve done this, we take it further and further. If you get dumped by your boyfriend you wind up thinking, “there’s something wrong with me and I’ll never be with anyone else or be happy”.
We go through this self beat-up session that can be far more judgemental and critical than what anyone else can ever say.
We put labels on ourselves, reject ideas as soon as they come up and tell ourselves we deserve the rejection because we are worthless. The internal rejection you put yourself through is far worse than anything anyone else can dish out.
It’s like driving a long, sharp knife into that wound and doing serious emotional and psychological self-destructive damage that can last a lifetime, unless we turn it around.
I got so scared of rejection and I took it so hard that I completely hid away from the world so I couldn’t get rejected, which does not work at all when you are trying to build your own business as a young kid. I was out of money and out of ideas and I had a choice, would I quit my business and get a 9-5 job, like all my friends, or do I face my rejection and get over it?
Well, I got over it! I changed my psychology around rejection by making it into a game. I made a point of putting myself into a situation of getting rejected as many times as possible. I did crazy stuff, completely crazy stuff, I got into crazy cold calling where no one, and absolutely no one would want to talk to me and I thanked them when they rejected me, which really confused them, I was saying, “Thank you so much for rejecting me you really made my day” and it wasn’t sarcastic, I really was happy about this rejection. I did a presentation on a train in Sydney (and got kicked off haha) and I went door-knocking to other businesses pitching my business and selling my coaching services, just to get rejected. And it worked. I can now do presentations in front of hundreds of people and I love it.
And this is a really critical subject now because bullying and just rejection in general is a much bigger issue now than when I was in school. Rejection used to be about our small circles and intimate groups but now it can play out on social media, over Zoom calls, we can get dumped by text or right-swiped on a dating app.
So there’s every reason to get this right and to train our kids as well to stop that internal beat-up cycle that reduces our self-confidence right when we need it most.
Because the truth is, there are plenty more groups out there that will support who we are and what we value, but first, we need the mindset, we have to get the mindset right to believe that we are good enough, we can go out there and try again and smash those goals and really be who we are meant to be.
After asking myself ‘why do I take rejection so hard?’ and going through this brute-force approach, I have been able to help thousands of people overcome their fear of rejection with my Rapid Rejection Release System™️ that you can access for free. Below are some of the strategies used in this training.
In this article I really want you to get started on turning this around and stopping that damaging self-talk right now so here are some steps you can take right now to stop those rejections from getting under your skin and really doing damage.
It’s important not to dwell on the negativity and replay it in your mind, however, you do want to find any learnings or lessons that are waiting for you in your rejections, especially if there is a pattern emerging. The event that happened may not be your fault, but it is your responsibility, so you need to identify that and own it and either make a change or make peace with it.
Do you want to react to your situation or respond to a situation? Only one gives you personal power.
We all have a choice to swing from being the victim to the aggressor and back again, or we can be in the middle, at peace, as the creator and find creative solutions that get you the results you want.
This could come down to an unconscious belief that you are not good enough, not worthy or unlovable, which is causing you to pick relationships with people who will reject you, solidifying that limiting belief all the more.
It could be that you need to open up your thinking a bit more to be more inclusive of other people and other ways of doing things.
It could be that you need to communicate in more effective ways or prioritise your time a bit differently.
Asking some big questions to uncover the lesson is the biggest thing you can do to accept responsibility, step into your personal power and see positive changes in your life.
We need connections to be healthy and happy, so find the ones that work for you rather than chasing around after the ones that don’t (and constantly getting rejected by them).
For me, it was joining a power group. These were the people who believed in me, found the same things interesting and cared about me. And it was something to look up to, I wanted to achieve their success. This was, by far, the healthiest place for me to be. Not only was I supported and my ideas were lifted up, but I was also pushed out of my comfort zone, they didn’t baby me, I had to work hard to get to the next level.
Now it took courage for me to approach them, and for a long time I was too chicken to approach them but I got forced into it, but it might be that way for you, you might feel so paralysed by rejection that you are too afraid to approach the people you need. It has to be done so just get out there and get asking.
I had a client once who was terrified of rejection so I set a challenge for him to go and get rejected by 20 people. And we were in a shopping centre at the time, he had his business there so I said, right now, go, get rejected, get used to it, start to love it. He decided to go big, and there was a lady who worked in one of the retail shops, she was absolutely gorgeous and he had a long-time crush on her so that’s where he started on this rejection challenge.
He went into the shop and asked her out for coffee, and she said yes! Then they started dating and then they got married, so he didn’t get to do that rejection challenge I set and do you know what, it doesn’t matter because what he learned was to see that people surprise you. If you make the effort you can see results. If you don’t make any effort you won’t, it’s really that simple. So make those connections and see where they take you.
Now to find your true network, you might need to look in unusual places. I was still just a kid but I was now in a group of millionaires and successful businessmen, it’s a bit of a strange mix but that’s where I needed to be so you have to really think about what you value, what you want to achieve and go looking for those people, the people who will get you there and those circles might be outside of your normal or immediate groups. And look for more than one, you need that diversity and you need that growth so if you become dependent on just one tribe, then you lock into the survival cycle again and there is a lot of fear behind that, so have different groups and people you can connect with so if someone is busy and you need support, you can just go somewhere else, you have that in place.
We need to feel like we belong and we are contributing to something bigger in order to satisfy our inner need for security.
And don’t discount family either. You might have a great ally in a brother or an aunt or a grandparent that you have discounted so it’s worth revisiting your close connections and seeing if they can be repaired or your labels about them can be changed to open that up. If you find yourself feeling rejected by a group or situation, get in touch with one of your networks and arrange to do something with them so that rejection is cancelled out.
Even though just about all of us take rejection personally, it’s not. It comes down to whether you fit with their values, their beliefs and their goals. If it’s not a good fit there is no benefit to you staying. It’s actually really great news because now that you are out of that group you get an opportunity to start something new where you will be accepted and you can really grow and shine.
That negative self-talk and internal criticism might have been running for so long you don’t even notice it anymore. Start to pay attention to the way you talk about yourself and the way you criticise others. That’s the first step. The second step is to start changing those negative comments to ones that help you and motivate you and offer support.
Ideally too you get in touch with your networks to hear great things from them as well and find yourself in supportive or fun situations that cancel out that negative self-talk and labels.
You can go over the situation a million times in your head and wish things were different, but it’s not going to change anything, it’s only damaging your self-esteem and stopping you from taking action. So reply only to find the lesson, once you have the lesson, move on.
Rejection is a really ugly cycle of self-confidence. Usually when you are feeling low self-esteem that’s when you notice those rejections coming in. When our self-esteem is high, we might not even notice that a rejection has happened, but if our esteem is low, you are really going to feel the pain, which takes your esteem down another level and you feel the rejection even more!!
So one way to help stop that cycle is to intentionally give yourself a big esteem boost.
Make a list you can go to to get a self-esteem boost that includes:
Think of situations across everything, from your relationships, your work, your friendships and your childhood, these are all valuable life lessons and experiences that can give you a boost when you need it.
When our confidence is down we forget about all these great things about ourselves and focus on the bad stuff. Having a ready list of great things will stop you from getting into that sabotaging (and false) belief that you are to blame.
Once you acknowledge these great things about yourself it’s easy to apply your talents and creativity to solving whatever conflict is in front of you now.
We are hard-wired to feel the hurt of rejection as an early warning system that our lives are in danger. In times of hunter/gatherer tribes that was true, but now we can just go find ourselves a better tribe. That only works if we are willing to dust ourselves off and restart.
If we carry the burden of all our rejections around with us, they will get so heavy that they’ll stop us in our tracks. We need to connect to be healthy. Find the right groups to be around, kick the habit of self-criticism and self-rejection, find the learnings inside the sabotaging patterns and give yourself a kick start to reboot your confidence to get going again.
If you really want to learn how to overcome rejection, the truth is that change can happen in an instant.
Often people think they have to do years of therapy and talk about the issue, talk about the issue, talk about the issue.
To help people overcome the fear of rejection I have used the lessons I’ve learned personally, and from helping thousands of people, to develop my Rapid Rejection Release System™️ training that you can access for free!
Watch the training now, and let me know how you go in our Facebook group!
By Matt Catling
PO Box 590,
MANLY NSW 1655 AUSTRALIA
1300 997 669