In my early 20’s I had an acquaintance named Adam. The first thing I noticed about Adam was his self-confidence. He would very easily approach girls at a party, ask them to dance or ask them if they wanted a drink, and if they said no, he would shrug and move on to the next girl instantly, with no break in his stride or confidence. I watched him get turned down over and over again, but he kept at it until he found a girl who took him up on his offer.
He was highly social, a life-of-the-party kind of guy. He was moderately good looking but not drop dead gorgeous. He carried a little extra weight around his mid-section but was also muscular. He sort of reminded me of a young Captain Kirk.
We often ended up at the same parties, and I continued to watch him move around and interact with people. I wasn’t sure if he ever felt rejected, but if he did, he didn’t show it. So one day some friends and I were over at his house just hanging out and I decided to find out if his confidence was all an act. At the time, I was suffering from social anxiety and really low self-esteem, and I wanted to improve in this area so I figured I would learn from someone who had seemingly mastered it.
Here is roughly how our conversation went:
Erin: Adam, you seem to have really good self-esteem.
Adam: What do you mean?
Erin: Well, I’ve seen you at parties and you just walk up to girls and ask them to dance or ask them out on dates, and even when they say “no” you just keep right on going to the next girl.
Adam: (shrugging) Yeah. Why would I stop just because someone said “no?”
Erin: But don’t you feel rejected? Don’t you wonder why they didn’t want to dance with you or go out with you? Don’t you worry that there’s something wrong with you?
Adam: Ah, I see your problem. Let me explain my philosophy. I approach girls I’m interested in spending time with. If they don’t want to dance or date me, I assume there’s a situation or circumstance on their end that makes my offer unwelcome. I don’t take it personally.
Erin: You mean, you don’t assume it’s because there’s something wrong with you?
Adam: No, there could be a lot of reasons a girl says “no” to me. Maybe she’s tired, she has a boyfriend, she’s busy chatting with her girlfriends and doesn’t want to be bothered, her feet hurt, she doesn’t want to drink, etc. I never assume it’s because there’s anything wrong with ME. In the absence of direct evidence, why would I assume there’s something wrong with ME? The way I look at it, she’s not saying no to ME, she’s saying no to my question. There’s a difference.
Erin: What if she tells you she thinks you’re a troll or ugly or disgusting?
Adam: Then I assume she has a distorted view of reality and I probably wouldn’t want to date her anyway. If she’s that critical and harsh, then I’m glad to have weeded her out before dating her.
Erin: So you never get rejected?
Adam: I get rejected all the time, it just doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I never take it personally. I take it as a sign of incompatibility and move on until I find something I can connect with. I don’t invest my entire sense of self-worth in getting one single girl to go out with me. That would be silly. There’s no way that every girl on the planet will be a match for me. So I’ll keep going until I find someone I connect with who wants to connect with me.
I remember having a huge shift in my thinking after our conversation, and I realized that rejection is about beliefs. You can adopt the belief that if someone rejects you then it means there’s something wrong with you. Or you can adopt the more empowering belief that if someone rejects you then it means they’re rejecting the situation, not you.
In the absence of direct evidence to the contrary, why not assume the rejection was based on circumstance, instead of on you?
What if you adopted the belief that rejection is a blessing? After all, rejection helps you quickly weed out people or circumstances that are not a vibrational match for you. It’s easier to move on when you are not stuck wondering what you need to change in order to get approval from someone with whom you’re not really a match. Check them off your list and move on to the next person or circumstance.
Don’t chase approval. Be who you are, be confident in yourself, and go out and find the people and circumstances that are a match for you!