Rejection hurts. We have all experienced the pain of rejection, perhaps a job you did not get, that scholarship application you have been applying for years and you keep getting rejection emails, being ghosted by a friend, being rejected by the one you love, or not being invited to a social event and then seeing your friends post about it on social media.
What is rejection?
We feel rejected when we are not included, accepted, or approved of. Rejection involves the loss of something we had or wanted. And rejection, like abandonment, leaves us feeling unwanted or not good enough.
Did you experience any of these common childhood or teenage rejections?
Being bullied, trying out for a team or school play and not making the cut, having no one to sit with at lunch, not being asked to prom or invited to a party, not getting into the college you wanted, and so on. Unfortunately, some children also experience rejection at home. This adds another layer of pain. Rejection from your parents or family might have included:
Being criticized, told you are not good enough, or called derogatory names, Being abused, neglected, or abandoned, Being placed for adoption (even though it is done with love, it can feel like rejection), Being ignored, Being told your feelings, ideas, or beliefs are wrong or do not matter, Your parents favoring your sibling, Being sent away because you were “difficult” or “troubled”, Being told you are not talented and should give up your goals and dreams, Lack of support or disapproval of your sexual orientation or gender identity.
How to cope with rejection
1. Acknowledge the pain and grieve the loss
Rejection is the loss of something or someone you had or hoped to have. Often, we feel ashamed or embarrassed when we are rejected and just want to put it behind us. Sometimes, this results in suppressing our feelings, denying that we are in pain, or doing things like drinking or eating too much to cope. The duration and intensity of the grief will depend on what you have lost; it could last just an hour, or you may grieve a major rejection for months.
2. Do not blame yourself
It is natural to want to know why you were rejected. However, in my experience, there are not always clear reasons for rejection. And usually, when we do not have answers, we blame ourselves; we assume that we screwed up, we were not enough, we are unlovable, difficult, or stupid, to mention but a few. Remember that you may have been conditioned early on to believe that you are inadequate and to blame yourself for being rejected. These are beliefs that you can now choose to discard. As an adult, you are better equipped to consider alternative hypotheses—other reasons for rejection. There are so many possible reasons for rejection and even the most attractive, smartest, accomplished, and likable people get rejected.
3. Strengthen your resiliency
Resiliency is your ability to recover or bounce back from a setback. And psychologists believe it is a quality that you can learn. Things like having an open mind, avoiding all-or-nothing thinking, focusing on solutions and what you can learn from the experience, seeking support, maintaining a sense of humor, remembering your strengths, seeing mistakes as necessary steps on the road to success, and practicing self-care contribute to resiliency.
4. Keep putting yourself out there
Writers and artists are notorious for persisting despite being rejected over and over again. Part of their ability to do this is their mindset—they accept that rejection is part of the process; it is necessary to get published or launch a successful career. And because they see it as normal and necessary, they do not take it personally. This type of acceptance and repeatedly “putting yourself out there” can help make rejection less painful.
A combination of grieving the loss you feel when you are rejected, not assuming you caused the rejection, focusing on your strengths and resiliency, and accepting that rejection is a normal experience, can help you to cope more effectively with rejection.
5. Take every rejection as an opportunity.
Whenever you are rejected, position your mind that you have the opportunity to explore other numerous alternatives. Utilize that opportunity and diversify your pursuit and growth.
Make your rejection an opportunity today, you are close to success.