The experience of rejection is a painful, yet common one that will affect most people at some point in their life. It may occur in the following situations: interpersonal, romantic, family estrangement, and employment..
One of the reasons rejection can be a difficult and unpleasant experience is that we all naturally have needs for acceptance, love and belonging, and that humans are fundamentally a social species dependent on connections to survive and thrive.
Some of the effects of rejection can include: loneliness, depression, low self-esteem, aggression, insecurity, and a heightened sensitivity to future rejection.
Below are a few tips that should help soften the blow, and allow you to bounce back quicker.
Tip 1: Don’t take it personally
Understandably, it is really difficult to not take it personally when you have been rejected, whether that is from a potential friend, romantic relationship, or an employment opportunity. Fortunately, we do have some control over how personally we take it, and therefore how much pain we feel .
The first part is to realise that just about everyone will experience some amount of rejection in their life. Not everyone wants to be friends with everyone, not everyone is compatible for relationships, and not everyone will get the jobs they apply for. Therefore, it should be comforting to realise that at least you are not alone.
The second part is to avoid statements and beliefs such as “I am worthless”, “I don’t deserve anything”, or “I am a total failure”, which are overgeneralising, self-defeating and unhelpful. It is far better to adopt a more flexible and growth-based mindset, such as “What can I learn from this?”, “Oh well, you cannot win them all”, and “I choose to see this as an opportunity for self-improvement.”
Tip 2: Self-esteem
Positive affirmations – Some studies show that positive affirmations can lead to positive thinking, and help to decrease anxiety, negativity, guilt, fear, and pain. Some examples include “I am worthy”, “I can handle challenges”, “I am enough”, “I refuse to give up”, and “I choose to do great things today.”
Strengths and weaknesses – We all have strengths and weaknesses. Having the humility and honesty to be aware of our weaknesses, whilst also reflecting on and being happy with our strengths, can help with self-esteem.
Self-compassion – If we can show compassion to others for their pain and suffering, then why should we not deserve it too? The more compassion you can show towards yourself, the more you will soothe the negative feelings associated with rejection. A tip is treat yourself like you would a good friend.
Tip 3: Gratitude
Even though gratitude may be the last thing on our minds when we experience a rejection of some kind in our life, it is still a wise and beneficial thing to practice. Gratitude is defined as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” It is an often under appreciated (irony not intended) virtue, that also compliments other virtues such as hope, joy, and peace. You are training your mind to not only appreciate things when they are happening, but to remind yourself of positive events from the past, and give thanks to the contributions from other people that have helped make your life better in some way.
There are a number of scientifically proven benefits for practicing gratitude, including: physical health, mental health, empathy, self-esteem, and mental strength.
Try the following exercise: to write a list of around 5 to 10 things that you feel grateful for. This could include good memories from your life, your best traits, acts of kindness from others, family, friends, pets, or anything related to science, technology, or even the natural world.
“The biggest hurdle is rejection. Any business you start, be ready for it. The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is the successful people do all the things the unsuccessful people don’t want to do. When 10 doors are slammed in your face, go to door number 11 enthusiastically, with a smile on your face.” ~ John Paul DeJoria
“Rejection is a common occurrence. Learning that early and often will help you build up the tolerance and resistance to keep going and keep trying.” ~ Kevin Feige
“I believe that rejection is a blessing because it’s the universe’s way of telling you that there’s something better out there.” ~ Michelle Phan
“We all learn lessons in life. Some stick, some don’t. I have always learned more from rejection and failure than from acceptance and success.” ~ Henry Rollins
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~ Sharon Salzberg