Do you remember the last time you felt rejected? When you hear the word rejection--you may even begin to feel the beating heart, the tears welling up in the corner of your eyes, or the dead feeling inside your body. Research actually shows rejection activates our brains the same as if we were experiencing physical pain.
Maybe facing rejection sends you into a spiral that you feel you can’t come out of or makes you think about really drastic actions you could take to feel better. It may make you feel embarrassed, ashamed, anxious, depressed, jealous, or just want to avoid people and stay home watching Netflix and eating ice cream. Perhaps a recent rejection put you into a deep depression or really damaged your self-esteem. Maybe it made you call yourself names.
In today’s world more than ever we feel rejected, due to social media, dating apps, text messaging, and more. It can sting to see our friends hanging out without us, that we aren’t getting any likes on a picture, knowing we didn’t make a match online, or seeing someone else live what appears to be a perfect life while we are stuck. This is why it is important we know how to handle rejection in a safe, healthy, healing way.
Here are steps on how you can deal with rejection and still feel strong and capable to put yourself out there again.
1: Take a Deep Breath And Take Time To Cool Off
No seriously, take a deep breath. Look around you and find five things you love or pull up a photo of a good time you had recently with friends. Take a break to be you and take care of yourself whether it is watching a funny YouTube video or romantic comedy or going on a run. If you are still struggling to control your emotions, check out our blog post here.
Getting grounded after being rejected is important, versus staying in the moment, replaying it over and over in your head. Remind yourself that your purpose is to be yourself. Your purpose isn’t a job, relationship, or friendship--but it is to be you.
2: Reach Out To Someone Supportive
You’ll notice I said someone supportive. There are lots of people in your life, but there are probably some that you don’t feel heard with, that will make the rejection seem like nothing or who aren’t very supportive. Reach out to someone who knows how to comfort you, make you laugh, or realize your true worth. Perhaps someone who can also tell their story of being rejected or remind you that you aren’t alone. When you feel rejected, it is important to get back connected to the people that you love who remind you that you are worthy, no matter what.
3: Work On Your Self-Esteem
Rejection can make you feel like you are left behind sweaty gym socks at the bottom of a gym locker just knowing you are destined for the trash. However, I like to remind my clients that it is okay to get rejected. If you read this, you are probably thinking, “what? It’s okay?” Yes. “Why?!?!” might the alarm bells go in your head. What I usually tell my clients is to think of their favorite brand of milk as a kid. For me, it was chocolate milk. Guess what? Not everyone likes chocolate milk. That’s okay and it doesn’t make chocolate milk any less awesome. You can’t be everyone’s favorite brand of milk.
So check into those thoughts, practice a few “I am awesome, I matter, I belong” statements in the mirror, on a walk, or while doing dishes and remind yourself--you are amazing just the way you are. To take it another step further, you can even make a list of reasons why you are awesome to remind yourself when the rejection starts to sting again or the next time you get rejected.
4: Recognize That Rejection Isn’t Always A Bad Thing
Yes, rejection isn’t always a bad thing. Rejection can be projection or protection.
If someone makes fun of you or you are excluded from an intense clique, they are most likely deeply insecure. They have their own stories going on that cause them to need to make fun of people or bond together to feel better. Once again, it doesn’t make you any less awesome. It means there is more to the story than meets the eye.
If you get denied from something you want like a job or a relationship, it can be protection. It doesn’t make you flawed or wrong. Possibly that job wasn’t the right fit or in that relationship you would have been deeply unhappy the more it progressed. Perhaps those friends aren’t right for you or don’t share your values. This TedTalk on rejection is awesome at exploring these two topics.
5: Remind Yourself Of All The Times You Didn’t Get What You Wanted And How It Worked Out.
Remind yourself of that time the relationship ended but then you found a new friendship. Or the time you got denied from a job but then found a better job. There have been plenty of other times where things worked out exactly as they should have. It can be helpful in times of painful rejection to reflect back and analyze old experiences of rejection and what you gained from them. If you believe in a higher power, purpose, plan, etc., then remember--this is all in a plan.
Rejection doesn’t always have to be bad. It can be protection, projection, or leading you to where you should be. Rejection stings and it can be a time where you need to self-care the most by taking time, contacting supportive friends, or working on better self-esteem.
If you are still struggling with rejection or want a dedicated place to explore handling rejection and other sensitive topics--feel free to reach out to us at Willow Tree Healing Center and book an appointment. We would love to help you feel connected and give you a safe space to feel heard.
If you are looking for counseling, Mary Willoughby Romm is a licensed professional counselor in the state of Virginia who provides online therapy for Willow Tree Healing Center. She enjoys transforming the lives of women, college students, kids, tweens/teens, and families through providing communication strategies, coping skills that work, allowing a safe space to be heard, and actively working towards helping you with your challenges. She is certified in Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (ages 2-7) and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, counsels substance abuse in teens and adults, and practices Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy.
Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to explore working together.