How to Handle Being "Bested"


I was pacing around the room. My nerves were frayed and I was having a hard time waiting. My mind whirled and I had butterflies in my stomach. “Oh, if I get this mentorship…” and I planned and dreamed and the anticipation of my acceptance grew and grew. He said he was making the announcement five minutes ago….why didn’t he send the email yet???

And then I got the email and my heart just dropped.

I didn’t get it.

Someone else was picked. Not me.

I was angry, sad, and jealous all at the same time. A swirl of negative emotions hung over my head for weeks afterward. I felt cheated. I felt passed over. I was “bested,” and I absolutely hated it with all my being.

I’m sure you have shared those feelings at some point. Being “bested” in anything is not fun at all and it can bring out the worst in us. It turned me inside out and I was not at all pleased with the thoughts, feelings, and behavior that came out as a result.

How does one get through hard things like this without turning into a beast?

Here’s a couple things I’ve learned:

Write out your feelings or talk them out with a trusted friend. Being passed over usually brings a lot of emotions that need to be processed. I wrote all my down in my journal and I was very, very honest. There’s no sense in sugar coating or censoring your own journal. It’s a safe place to be completely authentic. You don’t have to show your words to anyone. If you are like me, and process things verbally, I also find it very helpful to share my feelings with trusted friends. Mainly my husband, because I know that nothing I would say would surprise him or cause him to love me less. He is also incredibly objective and doesn’t fuel my feelings of jealousy and sense of fairness. He just listens and that is usually what I need.

Remember what is true. Another common reaction to being “bested” is allowing your inner dialog to start spewing all sorts of lies and half-truths.

“I’m a terrible artist.” “I never get picked” “I am such a loser.” “No one understands my art.” “Everyone is against me.” “I should just give up.”

Notice something about most of these statements? Exaggerations…”never, no one, always…” These types of phrases should send up alarms right away. Really? You’ve never been picked? NO ONE understands your work? Combat these words with what is actually true

I was picked for this, and this, and this.

I am very proud of this latest piece I did.

So and so recently told me that he/she really enjoyed this piece.

I’m a growing artist that isn’t done yet.

I have so much more to learn and I will keep getting better and better.

My worth is not determined by who likes or dislikes my work.

Plan for the future. Once you’ve processed the emotions and mental conversations, creating a plan for moving forward can help tremendously. You didn’t get the exhibit...what are you going to apply to next? I didn’t get the mentorship I wanted, so instead, I decided to learn from several teachers through online classes and informal teaching. I also decided to pursue another dream I had, which was to do a road trip to the East for some shows. Sometimes doors that slam in your face just mean you have a lot more time to explore the room you are currently in or perhaps jiggle another door handle.

Be a good loser. This is by far the hardest, but it will be incredibly character-building for you. I noticed that I wanted to dislike and criticize the artist that received the mentorship position. I scrutinized her work, her speaking abilities...I was brutal. Then I paused and realized something….I don’t even know this person and yet I disliked her so strongly for something she couldn’t even help! What kind of person am I? What am I about? This really was a kick in the pants. I was being a terrible loser. I combatted this by making a conscious decision to speak positively about this artist, learn from her, and see the good. I didn’t feel like doing this at all, but I put my big girl panties on and did it anyway. The feelings came around later, as they often do.

Being “bested” is never fun, but good can come of it if we learn to use it in the right way. I hope these tips help you as you encounter these hard events in your own journey.

Have you been “bested” recently? How did that make you feel? How did you deal with it?

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