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Opening Monologue: The Rejection Show

The following is a transcript of the opening monologue I do at the top of each show on WGN Radio. My show, the Saturday Night Special, is a single-topic program on which I discuss one topic all night. This week, I discussed rejection.

Rejection is a funny thing. Mostly, because we get it entirely wrong in at least two ways.

First, we define it wrong. Rejection isn’t the act of necessarily inviting retaliation and immediate contempt upon ourselves from others. It’s, simply, the refusal or dismissal of an idea or question. And, when put that way, it doesn’t sound quite so loaded, and in fact, it sounds downright weatherable.

But, that leads to the other way we get it wrong. And, that is: we avoid it. But, it’s almost natural to want to avoid it. After all, on an MRI the areas of the brain that become activated when we experience physical pain, too can be be set into action by experiencing the emotions well within the normal range associated with rejection.

Indeed– It has a mission, in the bio-evolutionary sense: that is, for our primitive ancestors, being ostracized from social groups could, quite literally mean a death sentence, as we weren’t very likely to survive alone for long. One theory among evolutionary psychologists purports our magnificent brains developed something like an early warning system to let us know we were at risk of getting dissed by our community. And those who experienced rejection as more painfully than others, gained something like an evolutionary advantage and were perhaps able to get it together and change their ways in order to stay in the group. So, if you tend to take rejection particularly hard, know that very quality could have saved your life in the time of our earliest human forebearers.

Yet, while our brains perhaps used rejection as an alert so we wouldn’t be left alone as, Sabertooth Tiger food, what if we thought about it a different way? What if– it could also be an heads up to show us situations and parts of ourselves with which we could do something remarkable.

I mean, we all get rejected— and since we aren’t really in danger of it killing us like it might have in early human times, why not put it to work a little… ? Or, at least, maybe shift into a place in which we don’t try to avoid it quite so hard.

But, this isn’t a show about empty platitudes like dusting ourselves off and getting back out there to try again, and it’s certainly not about not feeling what we’re feeling, but, rather, is a look at how we think and talk about rejection, and maybe, about how we can use it a little more creatively by, in fact, seeking it out.

So tonight, that’s what we’ll consider: rejection and the interesting twists and turns that can unfold in pursuit of the nope, the nuh-uh, the no way.

I’m Amy Guth and that’s all coming up tonight on the Saturday Night Special on WGN.

(Break for show opener music)

Tonight on the program, we’ll be talking about a word many of us dread and with good reason– rejection. But, we’re not after some big downer of a show here, but instead we’re after what we are often looking for on the program– a different or more expansive way to perhaps think about something.

We’ll look at the idea of not just embracing rejection, but we’ll talk with a few people who straight up pursue and invite it. And, it isn’t killing them; in fact, fascinating things have occurred by, in a sense, preparing their minds for the absolute worst.

We’ll be talking with NYT bestselling author Harlan Cohen, who has built a whole career on getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, and helping others to do the same– we’ll also talk with a professor and co-author of a study about how the language we helps or hurts our shot at our goals– and with an author who aimed to get 100 rejection letters.

We have a pretty packed show, so I can’t swear we’ll be able to take too many calls, but 312-981-7200– and esteemed producer Tom Hush will be the first voice on the other end of the line if you would like call and share a story of your own about rejection.

We’ll be right back to get this conversation underway, on 720-WGN.

(Listen to full show)