Fear Rejection? Make it Easier With This Mind Hack

Alexei Ramirez leaves home plate frustrated

Alexei Ramirez leaves home plate frustrated | Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

There’s no real trick or easy way to handle rejection. We get rejected from jobs, potential boyfriends and girlfriends, and even access to exclusive clubs or groups. Despite the fact that rejection is a seemingly constant in our lives, it never seems to get any easier — and is actually feared more by many Americans than death. Knowing that you’re destined to be rejected at some point in the near future, is there a better way that you can prepare yourself to handle it, and not let it bog you down with psychological torment?

There appears to be. That’s the good news. All you really need to do is adapt your mindset.

According to new research published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin there are two prevailing mindsets, or ways of thinking, that people typically adopt: fixed mindsets, and growth mindsets. The difference between the two is rooted in how people actually view themselves — that is, a person with a fixed mindset believes that they are who they are, and that they can’t change. Someone with a growth mindset believes their traits can be changed and evolve.

The study in question – -which is covered in detail by Harvard Business Review — says that depending on which mindset you have, you can make the sting of rejection worse. So, if you’re thinking about your situation all wrong, you’re setting yourself up for more psychological damage than necessary. The good thing about that is that there are things you can do to change it. You have room to improve.

As HBR explains, professor and psychologist Carol Dweck and Stanford doctoral student Lauren Howe dug into how and why certain people seem to suffer worse from rejection than others. Dweck’s work previously includes looking into growth and fixed mindsets, and by looking at the impacts of those mindsets in situations of rejection, the two found that people with fixed mindsets are hit particularly hard by rejection.

In short, they seem to take it personally — which makes sense, considering that they feel they are who they are, and can’t change.

People with growth mindsets, on the other hand, were able to get over it faster. Because these folks believe that they can change and evolve, a growth mindset would likely involve looking at mistakes or missteps and taking measures to fix them. That might mean doing a post-mortum on a botched job interview, or a failed interaction with a potential mate at a bar.

There’s more to it, and the published research actually includes data gathered from three separate experiments. You should read through the HBR coverage to get a better feel for the findings, but if you were to digest it all, you’re basically looking at how a different frame of mind actually makes a big difference in the way people are able to handle rejection.

And it really might just be as simple as that: Change your thinking to adopt a “growth mindset,” and you could be doing yourself a big favor. If you’re stuck in a fixed mindset, you’re going to struggle longer with the hows and whys of a particular rejection, and spiral into self-doubt. That sort of thinking is hard to shake, and it certainly doesn’t serve you in the long run. For that reason, it’s best to abandon it, and aim for a growth mindset.

It’s almost like teaching yourself to “get over it” faster. You’ll be able to dust yourself off with more ease and speed, and learn from your mistakes. Not just view them as daggers that are built into the fibers of your being, which can’t be avoided.

While romantic rejection and love are vastly more complicated, and are dealt with in different ways by different people, the research presented here can be of use to those on the job hunt, by entrepreneurs or inventors trying to make the next big breakthrough, or even people just trying to secure a raise or promotion. You need to realize the cards are stacked against you, and adopt a growth mindset to learn from every rejection and interaction. In that way, every obstacle actually becomes an opportunity — an opportunity to sharpen your decision making and skills.

It may be as simple as that. If you want to do yourself a favor and stave off hours of stewing in crippling self-doubt, just try changing your frame of mind.

Follow Sam on Facebook and Twitter @SliceOfGinger

More from Money & Career Cheat Sheet: