No one likes to be rejected. No one.
Whether it’s not landing that job you desperately wanted or getting turned down for a date by someone you’ve been crushing on, it’s painful to be told “no.” And what can be even worse is that these kinds of experiences can send you spiraling into self-doubt. Negative thoughts like, “what’s wrong with me?” or, “I’ll never be able to get ahead in my career” can add to your frustration and may even limit you from pursuing goals in the future. But the truth is that rejection is universal and unavoidable; everyone is rejected at some point! Thankfully, there are some key things to remember and strategies to help you avoid getting emotionally crushed.
Here are some ways to deal with the reality that not everything you want or go for will work out:
If you find yourself obsessing over being rejected, you might want to step back and view what happened as objectively as you can. We sometimes have a tendency to catastrophize, or make some things seem worse than they actually are. Keep in mind that just because you feel rejected doesn’t mean you actually are.
Also, consider the source. There are certain individuals whose feedback you should listen to (such as your boss, spouse, or close friend), but if you don’t really value the person who rejected you or put you down, try not to waste your time or energy worrying about what he/ she said.
But what if the rejection is personal? What if someone you care about has rejected you?
Though it’s painful, you can use the opportunity to self-reflect and if necessary, course correct. Is there something you missed in the relationship? How could you improve next time? I know a young man fresh out of college who had a tough experience with an internship. His goal was to work for a few months, then be evaluated to see if the company wanted to hire him full time. When it came time for his review, his employer had some poignant words for him about his shortcomings and ways that he could have performed better; he was rejected from the position. He recounted to me how he was embarrassed and disappointed in himself, but also that he’s never forgotten some of the parting advice his boss gave him. This young man was able to take his rejection and learn something from it that would benefit him in his future career.
If you still can’t shake the sting of rejection in a reasonable amount of time, consider reaching out and sharing your feelings. I’m not suggesting you post on social media, but I’ve found that calling up a friend who I know will lend an ear can be a great help. You can express your pain and frustration, cry if you need to, and brainstorm your next move. My only word of caution: don’t allow the vent session to go on too long or expect someone else to solve your troubles.
And finally, I truly believe that the most important thing you can do to cope in a healthy way is to understand that rejection is not a reflection of your self-worth.
You are unique, valuable, and worthy of love. I have a good friend who was rejected in love. She had just moved to a big city and met a man who was good looking, funny, and successful, but what really attracted him to her was that he was kind and considerate to her. My friend quickly fell in love with him, but he did not return her affections. Understandably, this was disappointing, even heartbreaking for her, but she also knew that it didn’t mean she was less of a person or unattractive to men. Although she was hurt, she knew that her self-worth remained untouched, and she later went on to find love again.
All in all, experiencing rejection is never fun, but it doesn’t have to deliver a permanent blow to your self-esteem. Viewing the rejection in context, practicing self-compassion, reaching out for connection, and using it as a teaching lesson can help you bounce back and thrive.