3 Ways to Handle Rejection and Take Action

constructive criticism

constructive criticism

By Suzanne Paulinski

This article originally appeared on the Tune Core blog

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The other day I stared at my computer, watching a cursor blink on a blank page in Microsoft Word for a solid 20 minutes. Have you ever experienced that? You set out to write a quick note and you just. can’t. get. the. words. out?

I was sitting down to pitch to a few contacts about a new project I was working on that I thought they’d be interested in getting behind. Simple enough — say hello, introduce the project, list the benefits, mention what’s in it for them, close with a charming joke, the end.


I teach time management to others, and yet I was sitting there doing anything BUT manage my time wisely. I used every trick in the book; break things down into micro-tasks, turn off phone notifications, play calming music, set up a reward for myself, time myself. Nothing. Worked. The cursor continued blinking at me, mocking me.

I realized it wasn’t that I didn’t know what to write, or how to attack the task — it was that I was paralyzed by the fear that if I wrote what I had to write (an email pitch) and sent it out, the chance of my pitch being rejected was all the more real. The sooner I finished, the sooner I was going to get rejected. So why not dawdle a little longer, right?

The fear of rejection is real. And it is necessary. It’s healthy to have, but it doesn’t have to stop us in our tracks. Here are three ways I have learned to accept rejection and move forward:

1. Your Action Increased Chances of a “Yes” By 50%

The future is unpredictable. It’s 50% chance of failure, 50% chance of success. So why waste time assuming it’s going to be the former, when procrastination only increases failure, or a “No,” to 100%?

All you need to get better at seeing the future coming up roses is piece of paper, something to write with, and an exercise called “Doubt Dump/Flip the Script.”

First, fold the piece of paper in half, either down the middle or across the page. Write out all your doubts on one side of a piece of paper as they relate to the task at hand. Maybe you’re worried you’ll embarrass yourself. Maybe your worry is focused on the fear of not being good enough. Maybe you’re afraid someone else has already done what you’re trying to do and they’ve done it better. Whatever the case may be, purge your worries on one side.

Then, on the other side, flip the script! Write out the positive inverse on the other side and start thinking more positively. For instance, if you worry that someone else has already done what you’re trying to do, you might flip the script and state that you may not be the first to do something, but you’re going to be the best.

Maybe you’ve recently been rejected and you’re worried it will happen again. Flip it around — maybe you’ll be perfect for the next opportunity and the person who rejected you will be left kicking themselves.

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Ebonie Smith, mixing engineer

2. Be in It to Learn

A friend of mine recently submitted their work to a major publication. It got rejected. But the rejection letter represented an important step in their progress.

The letter did not represent failure vs. success, but a 100% guaranteed chance to learn, no matter what the outcome. It represented progress, being that before submitting the work they had been someone who wasn’t taking action. They were now in a place to work off of what they had created and make a few small changes before submitting it to other publications. They were no longer at square one.

Success is a science experiment. You have to be willing to tweak your process and learn from the various tests you run before you can successfully get the results you set out to get when you started this journey.

+ Read more on Flypaper: “Can Streaming Playlists Actually Replace Music Blogs?”

3. Get Pumped

Music has power — it has a real effect on our emotions. Figure out which songs empower you and keep them close by for a rainy day. When you’re feeling doubtful or timid about shouting your accomplishments for the world to hear, create a playlist of feel-good music that gets you in the mood to celebrate and turn the volume all the way up!

Your mood and energy will change and you’ll be in the right mindset to confidently promote what it is you have to offer. After all, positive energy attracts more positive energy.

Understand that you have no control over what the universe may bring your way in terms of setbacks or hurdles, but you do have control over how you prepare for the future, and working with a positive mindset will keep you motivated and innovative.

Remind yourself that there are hundreds of reasons opportunities don’t work out in your favor. A “No” isn’t a rejection of who you are as a person, nor does it reflect what you’re worth. A “No” can mean “Not now” rather than “Never.” A “No” can also mean a “Yes” is waiting for you and is just one ask away.

So what are you waiting for? Go get that rejection letter so you can get closer to that “Yes” you’ve always wanted!

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Suzanne Paulinksi is an artist consultant with over 10 years in the music industry and owner of The Rock/Star Advocate

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