How To Deal With Rejection The Right Way
By: Rachel Lustbader
Updated March 19, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Martha Furman, LPC, CAC
At one time or another, everyone experiences rejection in some form. Whether a romantic interest turns us down, a friend leaves us, or a professional opportunity passes us by, there are right ways and wrong ways to deal with rejection. Knowing how to handle rejection the right way will be the difference between healing from experience and becoming a stronger person and letting the experience ruin future opportunities for us. If you want to know how to get over rejection, read on.
Understand How And Why The Rejection Hurts
Before you can move on from any rejection, you have to allow yourself to feel the emotions that come on because of it. Some people react to rejection with anger, others sadness, but many other emotions can surface as well. There is no wrong way to feel when it comes to rejection. Sometimes what we feel impacts us only mentally, but it is not unusual for the pain of rejection to manifest physically too. Body aches, nausea, and shaking are all completely normal responses.
It is often difficult to understand how to deal with pain once you welcome it into your life. Everyone processes negative emotions differently. For some, journaling their thoughts and feelings helps, others turn to exercise or art. While everyone copes in their way, it is important to stay away from addictive substances like drugs and alcohol when in a vulnerable state as they only numb the pain, not manage it.
While you work to feel the emotions that come with rejection, it is also important to understand why they hurt so bad. After all, if the rejection were not important to us, we would not have much of a reaction. If what you are feeling is intense, it helps to know why that might be the case.
For example, if your long-term partner leaves you, the rejection may hurt because you envisioned marrying this person and starting a life with them. If a potential employer chooses another candidate for a position you were eyeing, you might feel hurt because the extra money would have given you financial freedom. Identifying the why behind the hurt, lets you mourn what you lost when that rejection happened.
Determine If The Rejection Has Any Truth
Once you have dealt with the difficult emotions associated with rejection, you can start to look at it more objectively. In most cases, we have a general understanding of why someone has rejected us. Perhaps the long-term partner accused you of not being easy to talk to. Maybe the potential employer claimed you do not have enough experience for the position you wanted.
Determining if the rejection has any truth is a step that requires a great deal of insight. You must have enough self-awareness to understand your strengths and weaknesses. It helps to list your traits out on a piece of paper to see if you can create an argument for or against the reason for rejection. Feel free to list things about your personality, professional experience, education, or anything else you feel relevant to the issue.
Compile a list similar to this:
BA in Business
Enjoy time alone
Spend a lot of time playing on the phone
Once you create a list of your strengths and weaknesses, evaluate it carefully to see if there is a truthful reason for your rejection. In this case, a romantic partner who criticizes you for being difficult to talk to may have some reason to believe that is true. Being easily distracted, spending a lot of time on electronics, and speaking critically of others may signal some underlying issues with communication. Likewise, if a job passed you up because they needed an outgoing, organized go-getter for their position, you may see your personality traits do not exactly align with their vision.
How you deal with the rejection depends on if there is any truth behind it. While it is often difficult to accept someone's reasoning for rejecting you was valid, think of it as an open invitation to become a more well-rounded and successful individual in the future. However, if their reasons are not valid, there is a lot you can do to rebuild your self-confidence and inner strength.
If The Reason For Rejection Is True
If you find that the person who rejected you had a good reason for doing so, it does not mean you are a bad person. In fact, being able to understand their perspective and use it to make a change, if you want to, is a very courageous step. It is also important to note, that just because someone's reason to reject you was valid, does not mean you have to make a change if you do not want to.
And You Want To Change
You should never change just because someone else has criticized you. The desire to change should come from wanting to better yourself and show up for yourself more reliably and confident in the future. If you do want to make a change that would better your future self, keep these steps in mind. Once you accomplish them, you can move onto the healing phase.
Set simple, and achievable goals that help you work toward becoming the person you want to be. If you want to improve communication skills or become more qualified for the jobs you are seeking, research what you would need to do to make that happen.
Appreciate The Process
Remember, no one can change overnight, so even if the first step towards what you want is small, it is still progress. If possible, embrace opportunities that allow you to use your new skills. For example, someone wanting to improve communication would need to place themselves in more situations where they must rely on communication skills.
Every time you do something that gets you closer towards your goal, celebrate! Changing is difficult, and not everyone is brave enough to try it. Acknowledge what you have done to work towards your goal and always be looking for the positive things that change brings.
…And You Do Not Want To Change
You should never feel pressured to change for someone else. Even if someone's reason for rejecting you is true, that does not mean you have to do anything different unless you want to. Happiness with who you are is one of the most important things to achieve in life. If you do not want to change things about yourself, you can move on to the healing phase.
If The Reason For Rejection Is Not True (Or You Do Not Know The Reason)
Sometimes we do not know why someone rejected us, or worse, we know why and know their reasoning is not true. Getting over rejection when we do not have all the answers or answers that do not make sense is difficult, but it can be done. If you are dealing with rejection in this way, it is time to jump right into the healing process.
Healing From The Pain Of Rejection
The healing process for rejection takes time, but it is simple when put into practice. Healing from rejection is important, as it will boost your self-confidence, and create a solid foundation to help you navigate difficult emotional experiences in the future.
Accept It Happened
At some point, you must accept that rejection has occurred. Accepting that rejection happened, no matter if the reason is known, unknown, true or untrue, is the first step to closing the door on the experience and moving on. This type of acceptance should emotionally resemble what it feels like when someone gives you an unexpected gift, you simply take it, and go on your way. Acceptance should never feel like you are admitting defeat. If negative feelings come up while you are trying to accept the rejection, you may still need more time to process your initial feelings.
Think About All The Great Qualities You Do Have
When overcoming rejection, it is hard not to succumb to the belief that there is something "wrong" with you. Instead of focusing on your shortcomings, train your brain to see all the good things you bring to the table, that the person who rejected you failed to see. The more positive you can see in yourself, the smaller the rejection will seem over time.
Create Distance From Your Pain
Just like you would not keep hitting your finger with a hammer repeatedly, do not keep welcoming opportunities for hurt when handling rejection. Create physical, mental, and emotional distance between yourself and the person that hurt you, even if its temporary. A mental health professional, like those available through BetterHelp, can teach you how to create healthy boundaries in your life that serve you.
Practice Self Love
The most important part of healing from rejection is being compassionate with yourself. No one is perfect, everyone has weaknesses, and every single person has felt rejection at some point. Remember, only you know how to meet your needs. Work on showing up for yourself, loving yourself, and being compassionate with yourself so that no one can shatter your self-confidence should rejection happen again in the future.
No one likes dealing with rejection, but everyone has experienced it at some point in their life. Instead of letting what happened to take away from who you are as a person and shape how you act and think in the future, work through the difficult feelings now. Handling rejection the right way will only better help you deal with what's to come, so take the initiative to overcome your feelings and heal from experience so that you will be stronger, more confident, and happier day by day.