Sally met Harry back in the early ‘90s and, after a tumultuous courtship, went on to marry him. Now, almost 30 years and three children later, she finds out that Harry has a lover on the side and he wants a divorce. Devastated and feeling the full weight of rejection, Sally retreats into herself and begins to ruminate over her relationship with Harry, telling herself that she “just wasn’t good enough” and “there is something wrong with me – I just can’t make anyone happy”. Her negative thoughts go on for days, and Sally just stays home and away from her friends. The idea of encountering anyone just makes her cringe.
Ernest is a writer who loves to weave stories together. Ever since he was a child, Ernest felt he expressed himself best when putting words down on paper. He has worked on his latest book for two years and is really proud of his accomplishment. Ernest submits his book to eight publishers. Ernest receives eight rejection letters. None of them offer any advice or reasons to the rejection. Ernest starts to feel deflated. However, he sends out manuscripts to four more publishers. Four more rejection letters follow. Then his wife says that she found his writing to be dull and unimaginative. Ernest is completely deflated and hangs up his writer’s cap, letting his keyboard gather dust, not putting another word down on paper.
What do these two scenarios have in common? Both Sally and Ernest experienced profound rejection. Both let the hurt and negativity of rejection overwhelm them and change who they intrinsically are as individuals. And both chose a negative course of action – pulling each away from their true selves.
Rejection is a fact of life. Not all relationships and situations work out. Developing effective responses to rejection is an important life skill.
Having Self-Confidence is Vital to Rebounding From Rejection.
“Bah!” you say. How can I have self-confidence if I’ve just been rejected? Rejection is fundamentally a part of risk-taking, through taking chances by following your calling or passions. Knowing who you are and what you are about is vital to maintaining your confidence. Don’t let the actions of others dictate who you are. Remind yourself of the things you have done well. In the morning, write down two or three things that you did well the day prior. Review the list again at night before you sleep. Keep reinforcing the positive that you bring to this world to build your confidence – your self-esteem with thank you for it.
Don’t Get Mad/Sad/Bad – Get Creative!
With rejection comes opportunity. The feelings of rejection can actually help us access our more creative selves. Free from the expectations of group norms or loved ones, we can push the limits of change. Instead of dwelling too much on the pain of being turned down or turned aside, consider the freedom you now have to explore new possibilities – meet new people, try new things, look for new outlets. Let the pain of rejection fuel your drive to break out of your routine and preconceptions. Write down a list of five unique (and possibly groundbreaking for you) things you can do to move out of your current situation and then put your plan into action.
Tell Yourself The Truth and Build Yourself Up.
The experience of rejection activates memories of other times in which we felt shunned, dismissed, or disregarded. Many people have grown up in environments where they were told they were worthless or useless. Humans inherently internalize these negative messages because our brains are hardwired (survival trait) to belong to the herd and to do what is necessary to conform and remain a part of the group. So, we change our behavior, letting these negative messages often carry over into adulthood and relationships.
It is time to take notice of what you say to yourself after feeling rejected. If your thoughts hover around “What’s wrong with me?” (false belief) and “This is all my fault.” (false guilt), then you should start reinforcing the positive by telling yourself the truth. Reach out to friends who really love you and are safe. Ask them for the truth. Build yourself up – don’t tear yourself down.
Choose to Reframe the Rejection.
When we immediately react negatively to rejection, we miss an opportunity to know the truth of the situation. Rather than letting oneself be inundated by negative emotions, now would be a good time to step back and ask, “What can I learn from this?” Relationships are hard – for everyone. Finding the right gallery or publisher for your creative work is hard – for everyone. Every time you take a risk and the door closes on you, look for the nuggets of wisdom in the experience. Learn from your mistakes and let them drive change in you for the better.
Let it Pass and Let it Go.
Realize that the pain of rejection is not forever. It is but a moment in time. Don’t let a disappointing experience diminish who you are and what you have accomplished. Remind yourself of all the positive accomplishments you have achieved and know that no one is defined by one experience. And let yourself deal with the pain of rejection – but not for too long. Set an actual time limit to mourn the rejection (for example, next Thursday at 10:00 PM) and then let it go.
Rejection is a fact of life. Responding rightly to rejection can open up a new world of possibilities and happiness for you.