Rejection stings. Though it may be presented in a very polite or harsh manner, there is no easy way to put it or sugarcoat it, you were rejected and it stings badly. Sadly, everyone has experienced rejection in one way or another, either once or repeatedly.
There are numerous possible scenarios in which one can experience rejection. From being turned down by your crush, to your date canceling on you at the last minute, to an interview you anticipated that didn’t turn out well, to being fired from a job you invested so much in
Then there’s rejection from friends and family members, which stings more than a needle piercing your skin. Actually, psychological studies have detected that the same area of your brain gets activated when you feel both physical and emotional pain. The instances of rejection are numerous and affect people differently.
The form of rejection you experience does not hurt as much as being told a polite or resounding “no” after you have put in so much work. The feeling of being left out is so heartbreaking and overwhelming that you may feel depressed for as long as it takes to pull yourself out of it.
Outrunning rejection is impossible, almost likening it to the possibility of surviving without water. Irrespective of how much you try to avoid rejection, at some point in your life, you will definitely experience it. This is a truth you must come to terms with early.
Why Does Rejection Hurt?
Social psychologist Mark Leary explains that “hurt feelings of rejection arise when an event suggests to you that someone doesn’t value their relationship with you as much as you want them to.”
Human beings have a fundamental need to belong, and when such a need is denied, we suffer pain. This deep psychological pain fosters a downward spiral in self-esteem. The pain of being repeatedly rejected is enough to make you stop putting yourself out there and many people who can’t deal with rejection are bound to face a deep seated trauma that will hold them back from living freely.
After experiencing countless rejections, you may find yourself at a crossroads, riding on a rollercoaster of emotions you can’t seem to understand. You begin to question yourself, doubt your self-worth and dampen your free spirit.
However, you do not have to stay downtrodden. In life, there are many possible ways to respond to a pleasant or unpleasant situation and these approaches may be presented in a healthy or unhealthy manner.
Dealing with rejection in an unhealthy way can negatively affect your personal life and relationships with people. These would eventually lead to depression, loneliness and physical health problems.
The good news, however, is that there are healthy adaptive methods that are all psychologically approved and productive that you can approach and that would be beneficial to you. By learning to handle rejection, you will be empowered to feel less panicked about taking risks and grow more resilient.
In this article, we’ll explore certain strategies from experts and personal experiences that can help you deal with rejection.
How to Deal with Rejection: Proven Approaches from Psychological Researches
1. Acknowledge that rejection is inevitable
At one point or another, everyone gets rejected. It is inevitable but it does not define your worth as a person. Rejection is a fact of life and acknowledging this sooner will help you bounce back quicker when you get rejected.
Acknowledging rejection does not mean you should approach a situation without confidence. It simply means that you should be willing to keep going if a situation does not go as planned. In fact, some rejections help you work harder and lead to positive change. If you don’t experience rejection, it means you are playing life safe and not willing to take risks.
2. Identify your feelings and give yourself time to grieve
Understanding rejection from an emotional standpoint helps you come to terms with your grief. It is totally normal to feel hurt after a rejection, however, by denying your feelings, you make it harder to overcome. When you identify and process your feelings, you can now decide what really matters to you. This can help you navigate from one phase of sadness to another until you go past your fears and doubts and rejection.
3. Take time to process your emotions
Some phases of rejection may pass more quickly than others. The amount of time you spend on each phase is totally dependent on you. So, it is important to be patient with yourself and take your time to process your emotions.
You have to work hard towards understanding and positively managing your emotions, try to let out steam in healthy ways rather than taking your anger out on innocent people. An activity that can help you process your feelings and emotions effectively is journaling. List all the emotions you are feeling and how they make you feel, then pay attention to each of them.
Leslie Becker-Phelps, a psychologist and author, notes that “emotions are never wrong or right, they just are.”
4. Go easy on yourself – grow self compassion
After you have processed your emotions and dug up different feelings, you are now in a better position to reassess yourself and treat yourself with compassion. Keeping in mind that rejection is not about you as a person would help you to be kind to yourself. You have to create a safe space for yourself to deal with any emotions that will come as an aftermath of rejection. Practice self-care
5. Reposition the Rejection – don’t allow rejection to define you
Reframing rejection can help you change your focus from self criticism. For example, Sarah Bentley, after being on several dates with this guy and forming a solid relationship, suddenly decided to break up. When asked why she’s no longer seen with him, she replied, ” we decided we aren’t compatible with each other.”
Now, most people would think she had to have a lot of courage to bounce back like that but she was just reframing the rejection. That action helped her to focus on herself and re-evaluate her choices in the future.
6. Get social support from people you love
Since rejection stems from being left out, connecting with people can help bridge the gap and remind us that there are people who care about us. No matter how much rejection you’ve experienced, there will always be people on your side who are willing to help you bounce back.
So if you are trying to navigate the feelings of rejection, getting support from your friends and loved ones is crucial. You don’t have to let go of important connections because you were rejected; you need people around you at this time to help you deal with yourself and give you an open ear to vent your frustrations. Research has shown that social support is very helpful in preventing future anxiety and depression.
7. Stay focused on your next goal
Most people do not accept rejection when it is thrown at them. Instead, they decide to go back to change the rejector’s mind. While this approach has worked in some cases, in others it only worsens the situation.
Responding to rejection with a more direct focus on the future is a vital way of dealing with it. At this point, you have to figure out how to move beyond the pangs of rejection and summon the courage to meet other needs you may have.
You already have a clear view of your problem, so the next step is to gather information that will serve as a solution to it. You need to spend time brainstorming in this process to get an idea that will pinpoint your next target. Having another plan in mind and actively working towards it can help you find closure after repeated rejection.
8. Stay healthy
Many kinds of rejections may take a toll on your emotional health, which in turn reflects on your physical health. Several studies have shown that keeping fit and staying healthy can help you foster feelings of positivity. When your body feels great, it can translate to your mind feeling great.
For instance, Matthew Brendan explains that, “for me, physical health controls my emotions. If I feel healthy, I automatically think I can tackle any problem. But when I’m down, my emotions go all over the place.”
Also, don’t hesitate to reach out to a health professional if you notice any signs of deterioration in your health. A psychotherapist or counselor can be of tremendous help to you in dealing with rejection.
9. Grow from your experience – don’t let rejection stop you from trying again
Rejection may come from two sides, you either did something wrong or you didn’t. In any case, know that you are human and that we all make mistakes. Dwelling on them would only draw you backward and make you think less of yourself.
However, looking at the situation objectively would help you move on. Use the lessons from your mistakes to build something more meaningful. You should also work on your self-esteem; though having a healthy self-esteem may not mean you can avoid rejection; it is crucial in helping you bounce back. Take your time, rebuild yourself and cheer yourself on.
If you have found yourself preoccupied with rejection periodically or often, these few tips can help you deal with it in a healthy way.