The toughest part about self-improvement is the mental part.
A while ago I delved into how improving yourself physically is the quickest/easiest route to boosting your self confidence and improving your swagger. The mental aspect, on the other hand, is much less straightforward. It is a long winding road of steady improvement that requires you to constantly take action, analyze outcomes, apply learnings, rinse and repeat.
With every action you take that requires you to get out of your comfort zone, you are faced the possibility of rejection. Rejection is typically no more than an uncomfortable feeling or a blow to our ego, but it can quite often be very difficult to handle. Isn’t it funny that we as humans, today, are so afraid of situations where we might feel uncomfortable emotionally, whereas merely a hundred years ago our ancestors were running across fields at enemies knowing full well that their lives could end at any second.
Your ability to handle rejection and try again is the number one single most important thing to determine the rate at which you will become what you want to become.
Luckily, to prepare your mind for handling rejection and paying less and less attention to it, many tricks can be used. Personally, having third person self-talk to detach myself is one of my favourite mental tricks. After almost every rejection, whether it’s from approaching a girl, a job interview, a negotiation, or whatever else, I step back from the situation mentally and talk to myself in third person. My self-talk will go something like this,
“BAB, it’s alright. What just happened isn’t your fault. She didn’t want to dance with you because of a variety of factors — she looked grumpy and bored in this bar and she was never about to enjoy herself to begin with; her group of friends were watching her and she felt judged and restrained under peer pressure. Or, perhaps your approach was not entirely optimal — maybe you hesitated two seconds too long after eye contact. Or, maybe she has a boyfriend. But anyway, it’s all good. You are still alive, healthy, and enjoying this beautiful night with a nice glass of whiskey on the rocks in a cool bar playing Latin jams. Girls love Latin jams — it always gets them in the mood to dance and act intimately. No hesitation on the next approach!”
In this brief self-talk, I pulled myself away from the moment mentally and analyzed things from a neutral third person perspective:
- I first told myself that it’s no big deal, and the outcome is not due to any inherent flaw in me as a person.
- I hypothesized possible reasons for the girl’s decision from her perspective.
- I analyzed what may have not been done well from my side during my approach.
- I hypothesized other potential factors that may have already been against me, regardless of what I may have or could have done.
- I took the long term view and made it clear how little relevance this rejection has in terms of my overall quality of life.
- I analyzed the positive factors in my current situation, and how they may positively contribute to future outcomes.
- I took the earlier analysis of possible mistakes on my side (Point #3) and told myself to apply the analysis to similar situations in the future.
- Of course, let’s not forget that the only way to succeed is to try in the first place. I took action, and that’s already better than most people around me.
As you can see, a little neutral-to-positive third person self-talk quickly diffused the situation from embarrassment/hurt and turned it into something objective and constructive. Sometimes I will literally talk out loud (low volume of course) to myself during these self-talks.
Learning to step back from your emotions and constructively diffuse the situation from a third person angle is an important skill, and I’ve found it to be tremendously helpful in many situations, not just after rejection. This skill also applies to tense or heated emotional situations where your decision-making or judgment is clouded by emotion, and should be used whenever possible to maintain a clear head.
There you go, friends. Next time you find yourself being rejected, have a self-talk and explain to yourself what happened was normal and not a big deal. Remember, a rejection is but a tiny spec on the massive canvas of life, and it does not affect the bigger picture. If an incident of emotive discomfort has absolutely no effect on your life in the long term, then why should you even dwell on it in the present?
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Go on, brothers, go talk to yourselves.