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9 Ways to Calm Your Brain When You've Been Rejected

Kevin Whipps April 11, 2024 · 6 min read

Rejection in any field is difficult to deal with, but when you’re a creative, it can be even worse. That’s because you’re pouring your heart into every piece you do, and that makes it closer to your soul. So when someone tells you that what you’ve slaved over just isn’t good enough, it’s hard not to take that personally, and if you’re anything like me, you tend to “loop” on the problem – obsess over what went right and what went wrong until you’ve worked yourself into a fervor. So let’s work to stop that cycle. Take a moment to bookmark this page so that the next time you’re feeling down from a rejection, you have a few methods to help you cope with the situation. After all, that’s what we’re here for. And to start things off, let’s go with a video that deals a lot with relationship rejection, however many of the same thoughts apply:

Take a Moment and Cry It Out

What you are feeling is real, and it shouldn’t be discounted. You’re hurt – understandably so – which means that you should take a moment and let your emotions take hold. Do whatever it takes to get through this initial sadness, whether it’s rocking yourself to sleep in a fetal position or listening to your favorite songs on repeat for a few days. Gauge the amount of time you spend mourning the problem in the severity of the issue, and then go from there. If crying is too extreme, then just mope about the house for a bit. Pushing down your feelings is just going to come back and haunt you later, so deal with it now while it’s fresh.

Understand That It’s Not Personal

First thing’s first: it’s not you, it’s the product. Now that sounds like a weak comfort, but the fact remains that if you didn’t like the way a box of Rice Krispies was designed, the designer wouldn’t take that personally. He was likely following the directions of his supervisors, just like you’ve likely done in the past. You did your best, I’m sure of it, and so just because the client doesn’t like it, doesn’t mean they don’t like you. This is an important distinction. If you remove yourself from the equation, then it becomes a lot easier to accept. And that’s one of the best ways to dig yourself out of the emotional pit you’re in.

Know that it’s not just you

Everybody has been rejected in life. There’s always someone more attractive, richer, faster, luckier, stronger, or just plain better than you, and that’s OK. Every one of those people has also been rejected before, as it’s one of the few things that all of humanity shares. In the moment, sure, it feels like you’re the only one that’s ever felt this kind of pain before, but that’s definitely not the case, nor has it ever been. In fact, just watch this and you might feel a little bit better:

Get Angry, It’s OK

Admittedly, this isn’t a step that will calm your brain – not right away, that is. As it turns out, rejection causes surges of anger and aggression, which can either be turned outward toward others (and that’s not a good thing), or inwards to destroy your own self-esteem. Now look, neither of those options are great, but if it’s a step along the path, then it moves you forward. Just make sure that your anger is brief, so that you can get yourself out of the slump and make some positive progress.

Stop Pointing The Finger Inward

It’s easy to get yourself into a cycle of thinking that it’s all your fault, and that there’s no way for you to do any better. You loop on criticizing yourself so harshly that you think there’s no way that you’ll ever do another design again, and that you deserve it. Stop the bleeding. If you keep down this road, you’re going to never get better, so cut your losses. Accept what happened and move forward.

Surround Yourself with Loved Ones

It’s just a design, right? What’s the big deal? But the pain is real, and to get your happy back, one way to do that is to reconnect with your family and friends – the people who do love you the way you are, and appreciate you and all the good work that you can do. This should help get you back to your center, and a place where you feel loved again. Again, it’s about progress.

Reassess Your Situation

OK, now that you’ve been through the depths of things a bit, it’s time for a bit of reflection. Is this your fault? Were you right to be rejected? Give yourself a good, hard look and reassess things a bit. If mistakes were made, then make sure you tweak your processes so they don’t happen again. If you could improve anywhere, make sure you do so (as we’ll get into next), but the important part here is to look back at what just happened and figure out what you could do different so this problem doesn’t happen again.

Rededicate Yourself to Being Better

This part of the plan is a bit more forward-thinking, but it’s just as important. If you can get better – learn more skills, specialize further, or become an expert – then you’ll attract a different type of client. Instead of getting the ones that feel like they know more than you, you’ll find that people will seek you out instead. Those are the clients you want, because not only do they want you, but they understand that you’re the expert. And that means in the future you’ll be rejected less.

Get Back on the Horse

So that client didn’t like your design. Big deal. Now that you’ve gone through all of the torture, the bad feelings and the shame, it’s time to get back on that horse and try again. Sell another job to a new client. Make a design and put it online to get some props. Update your portfolio. Remember that it was your skills, your experience and your knowledge that got you to this point, and just because you were rejected by one entity, that doesn’t have to define you. But for me, I think it was put best by Alfred Pennyworth:

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About the Author
Kevin Whipps

Hi! My name is Kevin Whipps, and I'm a writer and editor based in Phoenix, Arizona. When I'm not working taking pictures of old cars and trucks, I'm either writing articles for Creative Market or hawking stickers at Whipps Sticker Co.

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