How to turn your tears of rejection into a waterfall of empowerment – the way you handle rejection in business will make or break you

Dealing with rejection is unfortunately something every entrepreneur and business owner has to do on a regular basis. Even top performing salespeople will get the dreaded “NO” more often than not.

The difference between a successful entrepreneur and a struggling one is your attitude when it comes to rejection. Will you be blaming yourself and wallowing in misery for the next week, or shaking it off and looking into the future a bit more determined and a bit wiser?

I was surprised to find that so few business trainings say anything about this part of being an entrepreneur, so I wanted to write about it myself. You will even find an empowering 4-minute trick you can implement right now!


Your past memories are dictating your life

When reaching out to potential prospects or someone you’d like to work with, a lot of times what’s holding you back are your past experiences and the pain associated with rejection. For example, you might still remember that one party where you boldly went up and started a conversation with a stranger, only to receive a nasty comment in return.

Experiences like this (we all have them!) make your subconsciousness associate talking to strangers with pain. It’s very hard to train yourself to let go of these experiences, but in this article I will share some helpful practices that will get you started!

“Be 10x bolder”

When you’re in an uncomfortable situation, thinking whether or not you should send that email asking for referrals, or walk up to someone at a networking event, I want you to recognize that it’s your subconscious holding you back. I want you to think to yourself in those situations: “What would I do if I was 10x bolder?”

Make this a daily habit: when facing a situation where you feel like you should approach someone or do something, but you’re feeling a little afraid, just say this line to yourself:“What would I do if I was 10x bolder?” and act accordingly.

What’s the worst that could happen? Have you ever been physically hurt when approaching someone? Has your shirt suddenly caught fire or your arm been cut off? Of course not! Approaching someone will not hurt you, actually the opposite is true: even if you would face rejection, you can congratulate yourself for being brave and taking the chance! As a result, your confidence will grow.

Distancing yourself from the actual situation

When you offer your help to someone and they say no (sometimes they even get angry!), it’s easy to start reprimanding yourself and spiralling into a hurtful mindset of thinking “nobody wants my help, nobody needs me, who the hell do I think I am!”.

This is a big danger. When you notice you are starting to spiral, when you feel those tears coming through (and I don’t know how many times I’ve cried because of rejection, so I know the pain!), stop yourself right there and then. Say to yourself, “This person wasn’t a good fit for me anyway. He or she just said no to my services, they didn’t tell me I’m a lousy human being. The work I do is not who I am, it’s not connected to my value as a person. Their rejection doesn’t define who I am. The next person I approach might say yes. It’s as simple as that!”

When you separate your work from yourself, getting rejected won’t hurt you as badly. It will still sting, but it won’t derail you or put you down. You need to realize that your victory is just around the corner. It’s worth it to fail 99 times only to succeed once!

Letting go of the past

Sometimes we have truly awful things in our past, and you might have been through horrors I can’t even imagine. But are you going to let those things define your future, as well?

You can absolutely work on letting go of your past. The problem is that the memory feels so painful and vivid, you can even see it in your mind. But letting it go can be very easy. You have to retrain your mind to think the following: “The past is a concept, it’s not real. It was real, but it’s not real anymore. Only right now is real, not the past or the future.”

This moment right here is real, and important, while everything else is a thought inside your head. You are giving so much emotional value to something that actually isn’t real. The things you think are real, are actually just conceptualizations. The things you keep worrying about (“Will he leave me? Will I get fired?”) are not reality, but if you keep thinking bad things will happen to you, they probably will – and you’re letting your thoughts control your life. The truth is, you don’t really know what’s going to happen.

The main thing here is really just to understand that the future is a concept created in your head, and so is the past – it’s just a memory! But sometimes the memories settle in so deep in our brains that their tentacles seem to spread out everywhere. So how do you let go of something so deeply rooted?



This quick, 4-minute exercise will let you focus on what is real right now. Don’t make it too complicated, just decide to let the past go, decide to stop thinking about it. This exercise will help you get focused on what is happening right now. Realize you can just decide right now to let it go, no matter how bad it was.

You know that the past has no use to you. It might have been horrible, but you can’t change it and there’s nothing you can do about it. Worrying about it won’t prevent you from making the same mistake. You don’t need to be worrying about it. If you think about the pain all the time it will become a wound that never heals.

Try filling your life with positive, new experiences and plans that get you excited instead. You need to have something that distracts you from going back, so fill your mind with things you’re working towards.

Meet new people (and walk away from anyone with negative thoughts!) and set aside time just for yourself as well, exercising or going to a spa. Come back with a new vision and a new goal for yourself. Who are you going to become? How will you use personal development to transform yourself?

Get excited about the new you! When you have lots of projects, you won’t have time to mull over past hurt too much.



I hope this article gave you some new perspectives on your fears and what’s holding you back. And because I love the Shark Tank, here’s a short clip to tie it all up where Barbara Corcoran talks about rejection. Enjoy – and then go out there and flourish, letting go of the fear of rejection and focusing on your new projects!

About Petra Boije

Petra Boije is a web designer, graphic designer & illustrator. She's mixing all of her skills together to form a unique soup of creative rocket fuel to help small businesses in their web and marketing endeavours. She's a Bachelor of Arts and has 10+ years of experience in design, web and art.

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