To be criticized. To be rejected. I don’t believe anybody necessarily wishes to be criticized. I also don’t believe that people wish to have their ideas rejected, or be rejected themselves. Both hurt our egos, may invite in self-doubt, and may lead us astray from our plans and purpose.
However, criticism and rejection are simply what we make of them; how we perceive each is critical to our success. To have your work or project criticized, for example, may hurt. It may make you feel discouraged. To be rejected from a company when you have been waiting for months, or even years, to apply for is painful. It dims our hope.
I truly believe that what happens to us, is actually happening for us. I have been rejected more than once in my life. I have been criticized, and it wasn’t very constructive criticism. It made me question my worth, it discouraged me, and it distracted me from the path of which I was traveling on.
What happens to us, is actually happening for us.
During my past moments of criticism and rejection, I had felt sorry for myself and took upon myself the identity of a victim. That led me nowhere. It wasn’t until I had a conversation with my Dad who taught me that how I perceive criticism, failure, and rejection is something I get to decide. I have the responsibility of choosing to be a victim or a victor.
As recipients of criticism and rejection, we have two main options:
1. Allow criticism and rejection to rule our lives and surrender to self-doubt and fear
2. Take the criticism and rejection and use it to further develop ourselves and our work, understanding that criticism is what makes us strong, and rejection is what makes us stronger
I have the responsibility of choosing to be a victim or a victor.
I understand that it is not as easy as it sounds, and I don’t mean to say that you should ignore your feelings, or ignore the criticism. My main point is that when we receive criticism and rejection, how we respond to it is everything. We cannot control what people say to us or how people treat us, because we cannot control people. However, we have the ability to control how we respond to challenging situations.
We have the ability to control how we respond to challenging situations.
My Dad occasionally plays over and over the speech from Rocky Balboa (2006), when Rocky shares a motivational speech with his son. You can find the speech below….
“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now if you know what you’re worth then go out and get what you’re worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you! You’re better than that!”
~ Rocky Balboa
Additionally, to spark some encouragement, I recommend reading President Theodore Roosevelt’s inspirational speech titled The Man in the Arena. This speech got me through some difficult days of feeling defeated, lacking faith, and living in self-doubt and fear. It is one of my favorite speeches; I hope it resonates with you the way it did with me.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
~ Theodore Roosevelt
So, before you listen to fear and doubt, remember that failing “while daring greatly” is better than never taking the risk to “know victory nor defeat.”
Live as a victor. Take criticism and rejection and let it be something you refer to now and then, but do not let it dictate your life. You’re a victor, not a victim.