6 Ways to Conquer the Fear of Rejection

The going price for any worthwhile win is 10 setbacks. If you can handle that failure rate, you have what it takes to succeed.

Cary Grant, Marilyn Monroe, Alfred Hitchcock and Richard Burton never won an Oscar.  Babe Ruth was never named Most Valuable Player.  Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson all lost elections for the presidency before they won one.  Losers?  No. Legends.

Early in my career, when I was struggling actress, I made a list of all the roles in musical theater I wanted to perform.  Some, I admit, were far out of my reach, (to young, too old, not enough dance skills, wrong color, not the right chops, ugh!), and I wasted tons of time wishing and hoping it weren’t so.

If you’re in the acting game you better get used to hearing the word “no.” If thinking that becoming a successful, heck (really?), even wealthy and famous actor was easy, everyone would want in (ooops…sooooo many do! ). Rejection helps knock out the weak. In my case, those early rejections forced me to really listen to my potential in the marketplace and find out what I needed to do and change in order to transform the “no, thanks” to “where do I sign?”

You can’t escape rejection.  You can only let it go.  Here are some exercises that paid off for me big time:

  • Dissect thoughts under the microscope. When faced with a challenge, what do you tell yourself?  “I’m no good . . . this is too hard . . . I’ll never make it . . .?”  Don’t let negative self-talk sabotage your attitude.
  • Identify realistic fears. Whom do you fear?  What might go wrong?  Who has the power to reject you?  Why would that person say no?  The answers will help you prepare your best, and facing them will help you keep your composure.
  • Focus on the moment. Keep your perspective.  Rejection lasts only a moment, and once it’s over, you’ll be able to move on to the next opportunity.
  • Be more assertive. Most fears of rejection rest on the desire for approval from other people.  Don’t base your self-esteem on their opinions.  Learn to express your own needs (appropriately), and say no when you genuinely can’t be of value or when you know you can’t fulfill.
  • Analyze every failure, but never wallow in one. Harry Truman once said, “As soon as I realize I’ve made one damned fool mistake, I rush out and make another one.”  Failure is a condition all of us experience.  It’s our reaction to our failures that distinguishes winners from losers.
  • Don’t rationalize away the hurt. Turned down for the gig? Didn’t get the contract?  No call back, or even a call period?  Lost out to your biggest competition?  Don’t let your worth be defined by others.  Get back in the game.  It’s not a permanent condition; it’s a short-term setback.

Ten setbacks are the going price for any worthwhile win. I LOVE statistics so look at the major league baseball standings at the end of any season: Out of 30 teams, only eight make the playoffs, and only one winds up winning the World Series. Out of all of the guys on the team (by the way, no women!) how many can you name?  There are the players in the Major Leagues and then there are the STARS.  In the end, the annual standings show that there are 29 losing teams and thusly hundreds/thousands of losers?  Hardly.  Really?  Come on!  Are you in the GAME or not?  In my book the only way you’re not is quitting, and YOU’RE not a quitter, are you?

Lisa’s Moral of the Story:  Don’t get dejected if you’ve been rejected. Just get your skills perfected!

7 replies
  1. Richard Mark Jordan
    Richard Mark Jordan says:

    Great article. I agree 100%. As a matter of fact, an actor’s fear of rejection makes him more likely to berejected. It takes you out of the moment. He is not letting his light shine or being his full self. I noticed the smaller the project the more I was cast because when I went in I was detached from the outcome and ddin’t look at it as a make-or-break audition. I started applying that mindset to big auditions and noticed increased wins. No one can win all the time but some teams learn how to win more than others.

  2. Shaun Nac
    Shaun Nac says:

    i am never fearful of rejection because the way i think is that at least u tried u loose some and gain some and at least got a chance to be rejected because u would never be successful unless u got rejected for something.take care and have an awesome day

  3. Sample
    Sample says:

    I am currently going through rejection right now as an actor. I asked my agent why I’ve gotten zero (Theatrical) auditions from the time I signed on 6 months ago. He basically said that CD’s weren’t biting even though I was being actively submitted. It made me depressed upon hearing that. However, I wanted to know what the Hell I could do to make myself more appealing and attractive (instead of wallowing in my hurt.) Part of handling rejection is having self confidence. I know for a fact that acting is the right path for me, and that I do have what it takes to be on TV and film. I have the look and the skills. Delusional, I know. But, it’s b/c I feel this is the truth that I am able to keep my head up, say Flip You, and find other tactics to move my career fah-werrd (as you all pronounce it in NY).

  4. lisa
    lisa says:

    These are great comments to hear. Like minded, never say die (or in this case “rejected”) and keep on keepin’ on actors. I love you guys!


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