Rejection is negotiable: what we are teaching kids when we yell at refs

People just don’t take criticisms and rejections very well. We are raised in an era where we were threatened with consequences if we failed. Either we win the meet or we are losers and had to come home to a grumpy parent. We couldn’t predict what was good enough and how adults were going to respond to a second place. I’m 180 % improved from my last time but am still in the bottom 10 % of the class. Is that going to bring praise or punishment? Consequences are severe – there was a threat of flipping burgers all our life if we didn’t succeed. Not “if we didn’t try hard.” It was result-based.
Criteria for result were confusing. Is 98 % on this test going to bring praises for the 98 or criticism for the 2? There were a lot of fear and unknown.

No wonder people react so poorly and non-constructively to criticisms and rejections. The harm and pain of being wrong is so huge that it outweighs the benefit of criticism. 

Because it’s a big painful thing to protect and defend ourselves from.  Even though we don’t really know what that big painful thing is.

Because we were taught succeeding today is our goal. We were not taught that failing today might lead to a greater tomorrow. We were taught there is no silver lining in a fail.

And… Because people are raised seeing rejections are negotiable. You can manipulate a situation.
You can counter-reject so you weren’t rejected. “No, you aren’t going to dump me because I already dumped you!”
You can dispute their facts.
You can humiliate them in public so no one takes their words seriously.
You can claim they bullied you or are targeting you, so it’s their behavioural issue, not your failure.

The first place we learn this: a referee calls a blatant hook, and adults scream at the ref to get their glasses.

When we fail, be rejected, or receive criticism, that’s a gift – the only opportunity to grow as a person.
And we are the generation who is deprived of growth.


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