Do you crumble to pieces in the face of rejection or failure? Do you have a hard time dealing with someone not liking you or things not going the way you had planned? If so, that just means you’re probably a human being with a beating heart.

No one likes to feel unloved or disappointed . . . the problem is that everyone is going to have to deal with these things at some point in their lives. Today, we’re going to help you learn how to deal with these inevitable challenges so that you can get back on your path to greater confidence.

There’s no way to gain confidence without facing and overcoming setbacks. The trick, however, is learning to handle it well.

How do we love ourselves in spite of falling short? How do we develop the courage and tenacity to get back up and keep going even though we’re scared or hurt?

If you watched last week’s episode, you already know that we have to take risks in order to increase our confidence. So, what holds us back? We may be telling ourselves that it’s because we don’t want to fail, but here’s the truth of it: we don’t want to feel whatever it is that we’re going to feel after we fail.

Right after we get rejected or fail, we tend to fall into what I like to call the post-rejection shame spiral. We replay the failure highlight reel in our heads, recounting the worst moments over and over again—maybe we even talk ourselves into believing it was worse than it really was.

At that point, we typically go down one of two mental paths, regardless of what topic we happen to be dealing with:

1. I’m not good enough, and I never will be.
2. Someone else could have done it better.

These two thoughts can really take the wind out of your sails in ways you can’t imagine. Not only do they keep you in “failure mode,” but they also make the experience of rejection worse than it needs to be.

If you think about it, the rejection we experience in moments of failure is not that intense:

So that prospect doesn’t want to buy from me . . . all right, well, how many more presentations can I set up this week?

So that woman wasn’t interested in meeting for coffee . . . I wonder if I’ll meet anyone else interesting this weekend?

We’re not living in so much scarcity that there’s literally only one potential customer or one potential person to date. We’re not going to physically suffer if we don’t succeed at every effort. The actual pain comes from what we put ourselves through during the post-rejection shame spiral.

So, how do we move past it?

First of all, you’ve got to stop the madness—notice when you’re in that mode, and put on the brakes. This is just one reason that I give it a silly name (post-rejection shame spiral): because it helps me realize just how ridiculous it is. To attack yourself for your shortcomings is pretty unreasonable, so it helps to name the monster. It’s the same thing you’d do if someone else were attacking you for no reason. You’d figure out what was really going on and deal with it accordingly.

Step one is interrupting that pattern of self-attack.

Step two is showing yourself a little compassion—a little empathy instead of criticism. Empathy is merely the acknowledgment of the pain or experience of someone else. In most people, however, the empathy muscle is pretty weak. When something goes wrong for someone, we usually give the obligatory pep talk and get on with whatever we were doing.

Firstly: the pep talk sucks. It’s a glorified change of subject. If you can refrain from engaging in the obligatory pep talk, please do so, for the betterment of humanity.

What people really need is acknowledgment. When they’re hurting, they want someone to see and acknowledge what they’ve gone through in a relatable way.

If my nineteen-month-old son falls down while I’m getting ready in the morning, do I stay engaged in my morning ritual and tell him to shake it off from afar? No. I stop what I’m doing, get down to his level, and ask him what happened. He doesn’t want a pep talk in that moment; he wants to know that someone is on his side—that he’s important enough for me to pause my day and acknowledge what he’s going through.

This need is hardwired into us, and, interestingly enough, we can satisfy it for ourselves. By simply using our own names and talking to ourselves like we would a best friend, we can provide the acknowledgment we need right on the spot:

Aziz, that was tough, man. I know how hard that must have been for you, and I’m sorry you had to go through it. They were really giving you the third degree there. I don’t know how you did it. Those presentations would be tough for anyone to get through.

Now, notice how there was no pep talk involved. You can give yourself a pep talk eventually, but try to hold off and allow yourself to feel acknowledged.

Once you are ready for the pep talk, there’s a much better way to go about achieving it, and it’s something I teach in my module, The Confidence Code. In this module, we learn “optimal self-coaching” and dozens of practical strategies for overcoming our fears, going after what we want and dealing with rejection and failure like a champion. Once we conquer these practices, we learn to take them into the real world: your social life, your dating life, and your business life. If you want to become extremely skilled at starting and carrying on conversations with people, asking for what you want and engaging with people, then this is the course for you.

You can check out The Confidence Code (YourConfidenceCode.com) and watch other episodes by clicking the available links. You can also “like,” subscribe and leave comments below. How can you relate to the post-rejection shame spiral? Research shows that simply talking about your problems can actually help free you of them. The more we help each other move forward by sharing our experiences, the more powerful we’re going to become.

Until we speak again, may you have the courage to be who you are and to know on a deep level that you’re awesome.

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