Most of us dislike feeling failure or rejection, and it’s completely understandable – it feels terrible! But what would you say if I told you that failure and rejection are only so awful because of what we make them mean about ourselves? And what if I told you that you can experience failure and rejection but not experience the negative feelings we associate with them?

When we talk about the fear of failure or rejection, we’re not actually talking about the nouns, we’re fearing the feeling created by those circumstances. When we’re trying to achieve something and keep failing, we make it mean so much about ourselves and we look for evidence to support that belief. But our feelings are always our own choice, so we can choose not to feel those awful feelings when we experience failure or rejection.

Join me this week as I discuss why so many people struggle to deal with rejection and the importance of being willing to experience the negative emotions associated with failure to succeed. I’m showing you how to stop making failure and rejection mean something about you, and how to start creating better feelings to drive your actions towards the result you want.

If you’re a mom, you’re in the right place. This is a space for you to do the inner work and become more mindful. I can help you navigate the challenges of motherhood from the inside out. I’d love for you to join me inside Grow You, my mindfulness community for moms where we take this work to the next level.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • How to view failure and rejection differently.
  • Why failure and rejection are what you make them mean.
  • How our brains try to protect us against negative emotions.
  • Why rejection is a choice.
  • How I define ‘rejection’ and ‘failure.’
  • The importance of failing forward.
  • How to break your limiting beliefs.

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Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to the Design Your Dream Life Podcast where it’s all about designing your life on your terms and now your host, Natalie Bacon.

Hey friend. Welcome back to the podcast. It is Wednesday January 13th when this is coming out. And I just want to remind you that tomorrow, Thursday January 14th and Friday January 15th, are the only two days that we will be opening up the Creator Program. We’re opening it up to 10 women who want to work closely with me in a community with a program in a private platform to build their online businesses for the next year.

It’s kind of like a mastermind, all virtual. We did the first round in the fall, and the women in there are having great success. They’re loving it. We have coaching calls. You can find all the information at program.

What else is going on? Gosh. Let’s talk about failure and rejection. This has been on my mind. I have such a unique window into the minds of so many women because of Grow You. I love that, right? It enables me to help so many more people, help my clients, help you all on the podcast. Something that I’ve noticed over the last couple of years that comes up in different ways. So it could be with weight loss. It could be with raising kids. It could be with getting a new job or starting an online business. Something that always comes up—a lot of times it comes up around goal setting—is rejection and failure. Specifically, the fear of rejection and the fear of failure.

What it usually presents as is not someone saying, “Hey I have this fear of rejection problem. Can you please help me?” No. Instead it sounds like, “I’ve spent an entire year applying for jobs and it just hasn’t worked out. I haven’t gotten any offers. I’m so scared to go on this job interview coming up. I don’t want to be rejected again.” So it presents as this specific problem related to the specific goal.

Or with respect to dating, it sounds like, “I just don’t want to go on another date. It never works. I’m already in my 30s. Every time I like a guy, he doesn’t like me back.” You can kind of see this pattern as I’m explaining this how it makes sense conceptually that we fear rejection. But I want you to think about it as it relates to you, specifically in whatever goal you are working on in your life.

So I looked up the definitions of failure and rejection for this podcast. And I massaged them a little bit to make them my own because I want you to remember them in a really simple way. Failure and rejection are both nouns. I want to point that out because of what I’m going to teach you in a minute, but let’s just look at the definition first.

So failure means missing the mark. So whatever mark you set or someone else set, you tried to achieve it and you missed that mark. So if the mark is passing the test, you take the test, you miss that mark. So you’re have said to fail. Right? Rejection is someone declined your offer. You made an offer. It’s a dating offer. It’s a job offer. Maybe you own a business so you’re selling your courses. You’re offering those courses to people. You make 10 offers and one person says yes, or zero people say yes. So you get 9 or 10 noes. So when someone has declined your offer, we kind of say, “Okay. I’ve been rejected.”

If you think of failure and rejection in this way—failure as missing the mark and rejection as someone declined your offer—it’s so simple and can help you see that there’s no meaning until we give it meaning. So when someone says I have a fear of failure or have a fear of rejection, they’re not actually talking about the noun. So this is where it gets important.

So failure, if it means missing the mark, what’s so bad about that, right? There’s nothing inherently bad about missing the mark. There’s nothing inherently bad about someone saying no to your offer. In fact, you’ve probably said no to other people’s offers. If you see Facebook ads and you click one and you decide not to buy, you’re saying no. If someone asks you out on a date even if you’re married and you say no, you’re not thinking, “I’m rejecting that person.” You’re just thinking, “I’m just living my truth. I’m just saying no.” The other person might be thinking that’s rejection.

So when we’re talking about the fear of failure of the fear of rejection, we’re not actually talking about fearing the noun or the act of it happening or if you put it as a verb. That’s not what we’re fearing. What we’re fearing is the feeling. We are fearing feeling failure, feeling rejection. Feeling failure and feeling rejection feel terrible. Your brain really does not like to feel these emotions. Sometimes fear of rejection can feel like shame. Same with fear of failure.

If you are trying to achieve something. Let’s say you’re trying to lose 30 pounds and you keep failing, if you don’t have a really high tolerance for missing the mark you will likely make it mean something about you. The same is true if you’re trying to sell your product or you are dating and you’re not getting those second or third dates. If you haven’t thought through specifically what failure and what rejection mean, you might make missing the mark or someone saying no mean something about you.

We do this so much. We make missing the mark mean that we are not good enough. That we’re not cut out for this. That no one’s going to buy our stuff. That we just can’t build an online business. Someone else can. “Natalie’s a unicorn. I can’t do it.” Or “I’m just not someone who’s going to be able to lose the weight or get married.” We start to look for evidence of that. We do that as a way to protect ourselves from the emotional discomfort that we create from thinking those thoughts that something’s wrong with us when we experience failure or rejection.

Put differently, failure and rejection are only bad because of what we make it mean about ourselves. So if you make 10 offers to sell your online program and zero people accept your offer, you only feel rejection if you make it mean you’re not good enough. Right? People are rejecting my offers all the time. You may have. If I’ve invited you into Grow You and you’ve said no whether I interpret that as being rejected and feeling rejection is going to depend on what I make it mean.

I am helping a lot of women right now with their goals, particularly with respect to money. I will with business and the Creator Program with these new women coming in. I always suggest if people are starting at zero to make their 5K back in 90 days. Let’s just say that you don’t do that, right? That’s just missing the mark. This means nothing about you at all until you make it mean something. So if you make it mean that you’re not good enough, you’re unworthy, you’re never going to be able to grow an online business. You will stop. You will sabotage, and you will quit.

It makes sense if you understand your brain and kind of what your brain is doing there. Your brain just wants to protect you from feeling that rejection, that failure. It feels terrible. I want to point this out to you because you don’t actually have to make failure and rejection mean something so negative about you. You can miss the mark and have 100 people say no and not feel rejection and failure.

Because when I describe failure and rejection as missing the mark and someone declined your offer, those are just facts. You could put someone declined my offer as a fact. You could put I missed the mark as a fact, right. Assuming that there is an actual mark that we can track. “I tried to lose 30 pounds. I took all of this action, and I lost 10 pounds.” Okay. You missed the mark of 30. So it’s measurable. Same is true with any other goal really that you’re setting specifically.

So when we look at failure and rejection as nouns, as things that happen, we get to decide what to make them mean. We don’t actually have to experience the feelings of failure and rejection. In fact, I like to say in Grow You that rejection is a choice. What I mean by that is your feelings are always your own choices. You choose how to feel by deciding how to think.

So let me give you an example. I decided to create Grow You. I decided to create the Creator Program. I make offers to all of you all the time to join me. I’m getting tons of noes. So my tolerance for people saying no my offer is really high. I get a percentage of people who say yes, and those are my people. I’m so glad those are my people. I don’t focus on the noes. I’m not over here thinking oh my gosh. I’ve been rejected by all of these noes. I want to sit here and process rejection. I don’t choose to think of that as being rejected even though I am getting noes. Are you guys with me?

So you could say okay. I’ve made 100 offers. Let’s say 20 people say yes. I can focus on the 20 who are my people, or I could focus on the 80 who say no. I decide intentionally ahead of time to focus on the 20 who are my people. What I have found is that our brains are really good at doing this if we have a track record for success. So part of this goes to self-confidence.

I think it’s so normal in our kind of society to want the track record for success in order to choose self-confidence. We kind of build our societal interpretation of success on this. So if you have a really good track record of success, it’s easier for you to think thoughts that you are successful. The truth is you can just think that at any time no matter what. When it comes to doing something new, that’s when I think we need the failure and rejection work the most.

So let me give you an example. I just went skiing not that long ago, a few weeks ago, with Steve. I have not been skiing in at least 15 years. It’s hard for me to even remember. I’ve been a handful of times in my life, but it’s been 15 years. So I was really energized to start, and I was excited to start. I was thinking about how I looked forward to being a good skier in the future and I want to go on ski trips eventually. Just have skiing being one of the hobbies that I have and enjoy, particularly living in the Midwest. Just wanting to go on those friend trips and have it be a friend thing as well. So I have this whole vision of how skiing is going to be a part of my life.

Before I got there, I was really excited, and I had a lot of energy behind the decision to do this. I registered to take a lesson when I got there. Steve snowboards. So he went off snowboarding while I took my lesson. I have to tell you that it felt so much worse than I anticipated. Because what I was thinking about ahead of time was all of the results that I want to have as someone who’s really good at skiing.

So I was thinking about the future trips and kind of the fun that we’ll have as a family or with my friends. I have a lot of family members that ski and friends who ski. I was thinking about how it’s something different that we can do that we’ve never done before. I was just thinking about all of the results that I looked forward to having.

You know what I was not thinking about? I was not thinking about going down the Bunny Hill and the Blue Hill, which is like the very beginning hill. I was not thinking about how I would look holding my poles and how my brain would be thinking, “Oh my gosh. I look like I’m so out of flow.” So my brain is worried about what other people think about me. I just can tell I’m so bad at it, right?

I learned so much about being a beginner. Because when I fail at my business, at this point in the game I’m sort of used to failing. Like I don’t make it mean anything. That’s why I like to say zero to one is the hardest because once you build that momentum, you learn to fail forward. You’re like oh yeah. This is just the part where I try a bunch of things that don’t work, and I can pivot, and I can try something else. You’ve sort of trained your brain based on that track record of success.

When you’re starting something new, you don’t have that yet. As adults, we just forget what it’s like to be a beginner. So I think we haven’t built that into something we want to experience. Like I don’t really want to experience that again, but it was necessary. I have to tell you. Even after one lesson, right. I went down those Green Hills and those Blue hills and started to turn. I felt night and day by the end of just that one day in terms of how much better I am.

I’m sure when I go back again—we’re going to go back at least one more time this year—I will experience something similar but at the next level. There are so many more levels to even get to where I want to be to ski outside of the smaller slopes that we’re going on right now. Going to Aspen or some really fun trips ahead. It’s being willing to earn those results and being willing to be bad and not make it mean anything about me.

I have to say. That example that I just gave you with the skiing, it felt so much worse than anything I felt in my business in a while because I have no track record for skiing. You know you’re out there. It’s not like when you’re little and you’re learning how to ride a bike, and everyone societally expects you to be bad at it. You’re a little kid. I don’t know how old. Three, four, five, six learning how to ride a bike, everyone’s expecting you to fall down.

When you’re doing something new as an adult and you’re starting it, maybe you’re in your 30s or your 40s. That’s how I felt at least when I was skiing was all these teenagers are doing tricks right next to me. I’m like oh. I just want to skip this part of just missing the mark, right? I just stuck with it. I took more action, and I didn’t make it mean something about me. Like I couldn’t do it.

I had the instructor who every time I did whatever wrong or in a way that isn’t going to serve me in my skiing, I’d go back up the hill. He’d say, “Okay now try this way. Make sure you’re looking up. Make sure your poles are in front of you. Try to do more parallel. You can try your right leg’s more dominant.” He’s giving me feedback. All of that feedback is helpful only to the extent that I’m willing to take action again. Only to extent that I’m willing to say all right I’m going to try this again knowing that I’m still not going to be the best or even close to the best or even intermediate. But this is the process to getting the results that I want.

So for you, think about what results you want and think about being willing to experience rejection, make offers, and have people say no. Whether it’s with dating, whether it’s with a job, whether it’s with selling something in your online business. Those are the three that I kind of see the most. Being willing to not make those mean anything about you. If you make those mean something about you, you will quit. Instead if you say okay, I just have to get 100 noes before I get 10 yeses. If you just make that part of the process and the expectation, then you won’t take it so personally. Then your brain will be able to move forward knowing that this is just the part where you’re earning your results.

The same is true for failure. If you make those fails mean that this is the part where you’re earning your results, then you will keep going. I’ve seen a little bit of this creep up in my life in other ways every time I’m trying to get to the next level. So I want you to be aware of it. I think we’re most likely to do this from zero to one. So I don’t see a lot of adults trying new things because they’re unwilling to experience that discomfort. I want to be someone who intentionally is an adult who goes out and tries new things and fails, right. I don’t just mean fails a little bit. Like really goes out there and tries and just fails forward. That’s really how I felt skiing.

Now, of course, I’m not going around talking about how I failed at skiing, but it’s the same experience in terms of wanting the results and being willing to be bad in the beginning to earn the results that you want. The only way that I become someone who’s totally in flow with skiing and is a pretty great skier is by starting from where I’m at now and making one step forward at a time. There’s going to be so many falls and failures forward.

The same is true with dating, right? There’s going to be so many noes—so many noes—before you get the yes. Those yes’s and noes have nothing to do with you and your worth and your value and whether or not you can get the result.

So what I see a lot when I coach women with dating is, “Oh I just don’t know if it’s too late for me. I think I’m doing something wrong.” They make all of the noes mean something about them when really, they just need to take more action. There’s this hesitancy to take more action because it means that you’re probably going to get more noes and your brain is like really making every single no mean something about you.

I think back to times when I’ve been really good at not making rejection mean anything about me. Particularly when I was applying to law schools and when I was applying to jobs out of law school. I just expected the noes, and I never made them mean anything about me. That’s why I like to say that rejection and failure are choices. The noun isn’t the choice. Someone may say no. You don’t get to choose whether someone says yes or no, but the feeling is a choice.

So I can apply to a new job and have someone say, “No, we’re not going to hire you,” and I don’t have to make that mean anything about me. Instead, I can say okay. I’m going to look and see how that interview went and reflecting and valuating, and I’m going to try something differently next time. I never have to go into shame and I’m not good enough and something’s wrong with me. I just have to be committed to getting the result that I want and being willing to feel that discomfort. Particularly the most discomfort that comes from the zero to one.

So applying for a job in a new field. Starting to date again after a divorce. Picking up a new hobby like skiing when you’ve never done it or haven’t done it in 20 years. Starting an online business. That’s a big one, especially for those of you who will be joining me in the Creator Program. Just think about it. You’re starting something new. Even if you’ve had a business and you’re making a couple grand a month—that’s where a lot of people join—you will be doing an entirely new process.

It requires putting yourself out there and inviting people to come to your webinars and to your workshops and offering them your program knowing that a lot of those offers are going to be noes. Are you willing to make 100 offers, to make 1,000 offers, to learn from every single offer and to try again? That is the way that you earn your results.

You can get out ahead of it. What I mean by that is you can decide all right. I am going to plan on missing the mark and on people saying no to my offers as I go about doing my goal. So whether it’s losing weight, whether it’s dating to get married, whether it’s starting your business, whether it’s something else, right. I’m going to plan that failure is going to be part of the process.

So you reframe what you make failure mean. Instead of making it mean something about you, you say, “Oh, that’s one of my fails for the week. That’s one of my rejections for the week. What can I learn from this failure? What can I learn from this rejection? How do I want to think and feel about it?” When you bring that level of consciousness to it meaning you decide deliberately what you want to think about someone else saying no, you will create such a better feeling that will drive the actions that you need to take to win.

So if you make an offer to three different employers meaning you submit your application, two of them say, “No. You don’t get an interview. You don’t get the job.” The third one says, “We’d like to interview you.” You go on the interview and you get really excited, and then you don’t hear back which is basically a no.

So you have three noes. You have three rejections. You can decide not to make that mean anything about you, anything about getting your dream job. You can decide that you don’t want to feel rejection as an emotion. You can decide that yes, you made the offers. Yes, they said no. What can we learn here? What are we going to do differently? Let’s take some more action. I’m still going to get the dream job that I want. Right? We don’t want to make that rejection or failure mean anything about our likelihood of success.

What I find most common is that we break the limiting beliefs we have about what’s possible for us when we start this work. So there was one time when we didn’t even think it was possible to land a dream job or to lose 50 pounds or to get remarried, right. When you break those limiting beliefs and you start seeing that it is possible, there’s so much energy and excitement behind it that we actually just want to skip to the part where we get the results. We’re like, “No, no, no. I thought this was possible you said. I’m here for it. I believe it. I want it. Now where are the results?”

That, my friends, is not how it works. How it works is you have to be willing to experience the negative emotion, the zero to one, the transformation that it takes. It’s a lot more than three fails. It’s a lot more than three noes. It is 300. It is 3,000. It is taking enough massive action to get the result that you want. It’s taking action, evaluating, taking more action, evaluating, taking different action, evaluating. Managing your mind, taking more action, evaluating over and over and over.

If you just commit to that, you will get what you want. It will be through the transformation that you go through along the way. Just because you want it doesn’t mean you will get it. You get it when you go through the process of transforming who you are. Then you align with the result that you want.

So as you think about the next year and as you think about your extraordinary goal and what you want to create in your life, yes. Think really big and believe in the possibilities that you haven’t given yourself permission to do, but then know that the way that you go about getting that very thing that you want is by failing forward. Is by getting rejected. Is by being willing to feel the discomfort, the failure, the rejection and not making it mean anything about your worth, about your value, about your likelihood of succeeding.

We often so underestimate how many tries it is going to take. That is one of the biggest mistakes I see. I see people deciding finally that they’ll dream big. That they’re going to get remarried. That they’re going to lose the weight. That they’re going to build the business. That they’re going to make more married. That they’re going to get the job. They give themselves permission, and then they underestimate how many tries it’s going to take. They underestimate the transformation that is required.

So when you get the noes, when you miss the mark, I want you to give yourself permission to not make them mean anything bad about you. To decide I’m not going to feel shame about it. This is part of the process. I know it. I’m going to move forward, take what I’ve learned, and what I’ve experienced and move forward towards what I know is coming to me. All right my friends. Have an amazing rest of the week. I will talk to you next week. Bye, bye.

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