Conquer the Pain of Rejection with One Shift in your Mindset

    Overcoming the pain of not getting that satisfying result (whether it be a grade, job, or otherwise) with one minor shift in mindset. Tucker Max’s post about focusing on the process and not the result revolutionized my attitudes towards work. Not valuing the outcome guided me in my academic career after death spiralling through high school. I conquered over identifying with the result, valuing the work, and ultimately, in letting go of the outcome, produced more fulfilling work than I ever had before.
       I was valedictorian in high school. This was the result of years of over obsessing over studies not necessarily because of the value I found in the work, but trying to identify as intelligent. I valued this image above all else, and in valuing the conclusion, placed my self worth in the determinations of others rather than internally.
    Despite his success in selling over 3 million books, he never fully grasped this concept until an agent provided a guiding metaphor. He posits that you’re in an archery competition. You want to win the trophy. To win this trophy, you must hit the target. However, focusing on the outcome instead of the process would be like looking at the trophy instead of the target. Through this flawed method you’d hit miss the target, and ultimately leave with trophy-less and downtrodden.
       This inability to internalize the results of work resulted in undue suffering. I focused on the target and not the outcome, and because of that, was able not only conquer rejection anxiety but realized how that lens extrapolates to virtually every avenue in life.
       This philosophy is rampant throughout every pursuit of excellence, yet in my self-absorption I was unable to embrace. In Stephen Pressfield’s seminal “The War of Art” he flaunts the value of process over the outcome. He contemplates through the construct of hierarchal and territorial modes of thinking. The hierarchal thought depends on the outcome and external forms of validation. As Steven Pressfield summarizes “In the hierarchy, the artist looks up and looks down. The one place he can’t look is the one place he must: within.”
       Looking within is the art of focussing on the process. The internal value of work exceeds and false fruits of outside validation. With this, rejection is not nearly as devastating. I had a friend who recently thought she was guaranteed a job. As she had with three other applications. And again, once she was rejected by them, she went into a tailspin. This assuming certainty in aspects outside of your control is focussing on the outcome. By valuing the work, you can retain control of your life and find satisfaction solely in the attempt.
       Elements like this extend far beyond work. It applies aspects of life. When documenting his life in a concentration camp Viktor Frankl found it in a Man’s Search for Meaning: “Don’t aim at success—the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.” In applying this mindset to day to day living, he effectively captures how to derive happiness.
    Thus, rejecting the outcome over the importance of the process is a core component of true satisfaction. With it, you’ll develop a stronger sense of gratitude, improve productivity, and ultimately conquer the pangs of rejection.


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