Rejection is a son of a bitch, it really is. I don’t think anyone likes to be rejected because it causes so much discomfort. But some of us seem to handle it better than others, and I think most if it has to do with our mindset and our perspectives. I’ve written about the word no in the past for my self-care challenges and I talked about how the word is used as a boundary. I think we’ve all grown accustomed to assuming that everything is always about us, (especially when it feels personal) so when we’re told no we assume that it’s set in place to hurt us, or that it means something is wrong with us. Think about it, how often have you thought about someone’s personal reasons behind saying no? Have you ever thought it was for their own good? Or that they said no because it’s not a good time for them at that moment? Or have you ever thought that saying no is just a no, and there’s no other reason or explanation needed?
Despite any of this, hearing no is sometimes a hard pill to swallow because it may stir up some very uncomfortable feelings for a lot of people, it may even be triggering for some. But at the same time, we have to remember that these feelings can sometimes affect the person who said no. As difficult as it is for us to hear the word no, sometimes it’s just as difficult for the person who has to say it. In fact, saying it may be harder than hearing it. No matter what the benefits are, the word no can be lethal, even the sound of the word is unpleasant. No in all forms is a challenge. For example, did my direct deposit post to my account yet? No! This could potentially mean not putting food on the table that night or having to pay your bills late. Did they call yet? No! this could mean the person is in danger or has been harmed. My point is, the word no is all encompassing; meaning, it spreads and applies to a vast majority of opportunities and possibilities in our lives. It’s not just about being rejected.
While it may not be possible to lighten the blow of hearing the word no for everyone, I came up with three concepts that we can use to help us be more accepting, understanding and to keep an open mindset when we hear the word no.
- No Benefits all Parties: It’s not always all about you. As difficult as it may be at times, you should try to think about the reasons why someone may tell you no. So often we assume that everything that happens to us personally is all about us. But we are forgetting that just like us, everyone is also trying to navigate this thing called life. You are likely being told no because it’s what’s best for the person right now. And if it’s not going to work for them, how will it benefit you? Keep this in mind the next time someone tells you no.
- The Word No is a Healthy Boundary: Similar to the above, you’re likely being told no because the person is trying to set a healthy boundary for themselves; in order to cater to their emotional self-care and we have to respect that. In fact, Positive Psychology states “healthy boundaries can serve to establish one’s identity. Specifically, healthy boundaries can help people define their individuality and can help people indicate what they will and will not hold themselves responsible for.” To read more about this, click here. Another tip would be to think about the many reasons why you say no to someone’s request, and apply those same reasons to the person who said no to you. No is not usually personal so we shouldn’t always assume that it is.
- No Sometimes Mean Not Now: Just because it didn’t work out for you this time, doesn’t mean there aren’t other opportunities available to you, and it doesn’t mean things won’t work out for you in the future. Also, just because it didn’t work out with that particular person doesn’t mean it won’t work out in the future with them or with someone else. Sometimes no isn’t permanent, it’s temporary. No may also be an opportunity for you to shift and pursue something bigger and better.
To avoid the disappointment, go into every situation with an open mindset. It’s a lot more realistic to expect the possibility of a yes and a no, than to expect (or assume) that the answer will likely always be yes. Creating that open mindset will likely soften the blow if you usually feel discomfort or rejected when someone tells you no. I think we need to start changing the narrative around the word no because it’s not the end of the world, and it’s not usually personal. No is usually used for a reason, and I want to encourage us to find that reason. Change the narrative, change your approach, and adjust your mindset. Because No is a boundary, No creates space for other opportunities and it’s set in place to benefit all parties, it’s not a rejection.
Let’s Chat, how do you accept no as a response?
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