Have you ever asked as question or made a request of someone and really wanted “yes” to be the answer? Have you ever had the answer be something else other than yes? Have you interpreted that other answer as a gentle, or not-so-gentle, rejection?
This happened to me the other day. I submitted an article to an online journal for publication, feeling pretty damned confident about it and proud of myself for having done it. But a few days later I received a funky reply email that did not happily say that I was getting published.
It said I needed to make edits.
This statement was then followed by a list of suggested edits.
I was mortified.
So I read and reread the email, thinking to myself that the real communication was between the lines stating things like, “we don’t want your damned article,” “it’s not good enough for our publication,” and “your writing is crap.”
And with each reread I felt myself sink lower and lower, farther and farther away from those initial feelings of confidence and pride. I began to doubt myself and even the message I was trying to convey in that story. It felt like I was melting, or shrinking, or some other type of melodramatic action.
So what did I do next?
I reached out for help. (Well, at least after I cried about it inwardly for a while and ranted about how unfair the request was and essentially acted like a dramatic toddler having a fit.)
I forwarded the mail and the submitted article to a trusted girlfriend and asked her opinion. I also tapped my business coach to see if I was reading this thing right, complete with a whiny “why don’t they like me?” styled note. And they both came back with the same response: the journal would like you to make some edits and resubmit.
That was a reality check for me.
Why did a simple request to edit my work force me down into the black depths of self-loathing and rejection?
Because I’m well practiced at such thinking.
As a person who has ranged from simple overweight to outright fat her whole life, I have been taught by the messages around me that I am unworthy, unhealthy, unattractive, and unable to control myself. It’s very hard to be a young person seeking acceptance and experiencing that message everywhere you go and very easy to internalize such negativity.
However, I made the choice to reject these messages about myself and my weight and to live and enjoy my life as healthily and fully as I can.
This choice requires me to learn how to bounce back more easily from negative thinking and experiences involving my body by practicing ruthless self love. And this practice can be applied to anything, any situation.
Even the one where I think my article is rejected because it needs edits.
And once framed that way, the overhead lights flip on and I no longer have to sit in the dark. I can see a way forward. A way that not only gets my story in shape, but one that also offers an opportunity for improvement.
Because that’s what learning to bounce back is about: continuous improvement.
So now I’ve got some editing to do and you can look forward to hearing about my next published piece while practicing some reframing and bounce-back of your own.
How can you reframe an experience of your own to make it an opportunity for improvement?