I witness a lot of heartache in my therapy work.
One of the biggest causes is rejection.
The circumstances may be different: for one person it’s being told by their spouse of twenty-five years that he or she wants a divorce, for another it’s not being asked out on a second date; for someone else it’s not getting the job they wanted after an interview, or being slighted by a close friend; rejection comes in many forms.
But the feelings that arise from it are always the same: pain, anger, disappointment, self-doubt, sadness and despair.
I’m pretty sure you can relate to these feelings since we’ve all been rejected at some point in our lives. Sadly, it’s an inevitable part of life.
If a rejection has caused you distress, then take a look at these nine tips on how to deal with and move through it. They’ll help you to handle your emotions and get over the pain.
1. Know it will pass
It’s not uncommon to get stuck in a rut where you start to believe that your emotions and situation will never change. The truth is, feelings and life situations are always temporary. No-one’s life stays exactly the same over time, neither on the inside nor on the outside. Just because you’re facing a rejection now doesn’t mean things won’t feel and get better soon.
Remind yourself that in time these difficult feelings will pass. Instead of labelling or judging yourself negatively carry on moving forward, learning, growing and doing your best; and as you grow and evolve so will your life situation.
2. Take time to process your feelings
In the face of rejection, it’s easy to kid yourself that it doesn’t matter to you; you force yourself to be positive and attempt to carry on when the truth is that you’re in a state of emotional turmoil, or even shock.
Suppressing your true feelings like this is a tactic that rarely ends well because you haven’t processed the difficult feelings; they’re still lurking around inside you. The likelihood of these feelings reappearing later in life in the form of mental and physical illness is high. These are the kind of suppressed emotions that cause inappropriate and disproportionate angry outbursts, bitterness, resentment and a negative attitude, as well as disease.
It’s best to take some time to face the feelings so they can be processed in a timely way. This requires courage and patience, but it’s in your best interests: facing them allows you to release them faster. There’s more information on this in my earlier blog: How to Deal with Difficult Feelings.
3. Shift your focus to what you still have in your life
Whilst it’s important to take some time to sit with the difficult feelings, at the same time you don’t want to become stuck in an ocean of self-doubt and negativity. The best way to avoid this is to focus on what you still have.
Focusing on the positives, such as the people who love you, the roof over your head, the food on your table, and the hobbies, dreams and passions you still have to look forward to will uplift your mood and shield you from becoming overwhelmed by the negativity of the rejection.
4. Say no to your inner critic
Rejection will always feed your inner critic if you allow it to. The inner critic is that little voice we all have in our heads that whispers things like ‘You’re a loser … you’re not good enough … you’re not smart enough … you’re not thin enough … you’re not pretty enough …’ In this situation it will gleefully add ‘… and that’s why you got rejected.’
When you notice this voice is starting to pipe up, immediately shut it down or it will snowball into a dark mass of negative thoughts that you will find difficult to halt.
Whenever I become aware of my inner critic, I call up the image I’ve created for it – it resembles Dobby from Harry Potter – and I point at his little face and shout, “No. Shut it!” I simply don’t allow him to undermine and disempower me; he gets the message and quietens down.
5. Talk about it
As a counsellor I see the transformative power of talking and how it can help a person release pent-up emotions, make sense of their life situation, discover their inner strength and resources and move on in life. Talking about the rejection you’ve experienced with a trusted confidante – this can be a family member, a friend or a trained therapist – can help you feel less upset and see the situation in a clearer light.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by everything when it’s whirling around in your head. When you talk to someone else honestly and openly, you not only make space for the release of emotional energy but also benefit from the new perspective that someone else can bring to the situation. This can help you to move forward.
6. Don’t think it’s all about you
It’s common to fall into the trap of thinking there’s something wrong with you if you find yourself on the receiving end of a rejection when, in fact, life is far more complicated than that. The fact that someone else is involved automatically means it can’t all be about you.
If you’ve been out on a date with someone and they don’t ring back, how do you know it’s not because they’re still getting over someone else? Or fallen ill? Or had a sudden death in their family? Or, that they really liked you but have a fear of commitment and ran away?
If you’ve been rejected after an interview, how do you know you didn’t miss out by a single point? And that had the winning candidate not shown up on that day you would have secured the job?
That’s just how life works. Of course, it’s healthy to carefully consider what you can learn from the situation, but try and widen your perspective from simply ‘It’s all my fault … I’m rubbish, dumb, etc.’ Ask yourself what’s the bigger picture here. Much as our egos like to believe everything is about us all the time, it isn’t!
7. Be constructive and focus on what you can learn
Rejection isn’t always a bad thing: it can be an incredibly powerful learning opportunity. Most successful people will tell you that rejection was a valuable part of their journey to success, because it forced them to reflect and consider not only the direction they were moving in but also what they needed to do differently in the future.
The fact that you’ve been rejected indicates you’ve been forced to step outside your comfort zone. If things didn’t work out the way you wanted them to, then why not reframe the situation to your advantage and use it as a learning opportunity? Once you’ve dealt with the pain, get into a constructive headspace and ask yourself: ‘What’s the one thing I can learn from this? What’s the one thing I would do differently next time?’
If you’ve worked with me, you’ll know I try to bring a higher perspective to issues in life. I believe there’s a higher plan unfolding in everyone’s life; a plan that our smaller, egoic selves don’t initially understand. If you’ve tried moving your life in a certain direction and keep experiencing setbacks, then think about the bigger picture. Maybe you’re being redirected so you take a different route. Perhaps life has something else, something better, in store for you.
If you’d like to explore these deeper issues, then check out my Soul Contract Reading service. It’s given hundreds of people a clear perspective on who they are and what they’re here to do. When you’re in alignment with the highest parts of your being, life begins to flow.
8. Bolster your self-esteem
Having a high level of self-esteem won’t necessarily protect you from future rejections, but it will make you feel stronger and less vulnerable to other people’s opinions.
Self-esteem is “how one feels about oneself in any given moment”. Self-worth is “the sense of one’s own value or worth as a person”. If you feel good about yourself and have a high level of self-worth, you’ll be less likely to allow one knock-back to drag you down. Have a look at my earlier blog on How to Cultivate Greater Self-Worth if this is something you need to work on.
9. Keep going
It’s important to process what’s happened and spend some time reflecting on what you can learn from the situation, but it’s just as essential that you don’t let the rejection stop you from moving forward. Resolve that it will not stop you from living your life.
And remember, it’s not the rejection that’s the real issue; the real issue is your ability to get back up, dust yourself down, and carry on.
As Robert Kiyosaki, an American businessman and author has said,
“Losers quit when they fail. Winners fail until they succeed”.