“Become independent of the good opinion of others.”
We all know that rejection really hurts. That job interview that seemed to have gone so well? The first date that, despite all the positive signs, turned out to be the last? Been there, done that.
Rejection confirms our worst fear: of being worthless, unlovable, destined to be alone. It is, in fact, the most common emotional wound we sustain in daily life. And it usually hurts more than we care to admit.
This emotional pain impacts our well-being on so many levels. We withdraw from people rather than risk reaching out. We hold back from expressing our authentic feelings. We abandon others before they have a chance to reject us.
Dealing with many personal and professional challenges lately, I found myself repeatedly paralysed by the fear of getting hurt and rejected which, in turn, had a direct impact on my self-esteem, confidence and motivation, not to mention my happiness levels.
I realised that it is essential for me to reclaim my power and develop a better coping mechanism, one that is guided not by fear, but by self-trust and confidence in my capabilities to survive whatever life throws my way.
The reason why rejection hurts so much is because we give away the power to another person, often undeserving of that responsibility, to reflect our own worth. We allow somebody else’s complexities and insecurities to set our value.
What’s more, the act of rejection is an avoidable part of our lives and it’s rather unrealistic to expect that everyone will like and love us in the same measure, all the time – so we might as well learn to deal with it better.
This is not about being optimistic or positive. It’s about looking for hidden gifts, being practical and focusing on how we can deal with the situation in a way that serves us better.
Here are a few thoughts that helped me reframe rejection in a more positive way and that, hopefully, will help me soothe emotional pain and speed up the recovery process in the long run.
1. It is inevitable. I will never be beautiful enough, smart enough, kind enough, funny enough, to avoid rejection – because rejection is inevitable. Everyone gets rejected and there’s no way to avoid it.
2. It is reciprocal. We all reject things from time to time – we reject items we don’t want, ideas we don’t like and opportunities we don’t see fit. Rejection is as much a part of our world as is approval.
3. It is not personal. When rejection occurs, we blame ourselves for the other person turning away from us. Yet, oftentimes, their reaction has nothing to do with us and everything to do with circumstances we might know nothing about.
4. It is about them. When somebody rejects us, they are acting on their own insecurities and fears. All of us undoubtably have desirable qualities and characteristics to offer, they’re simply being overlooked by someone else.
5. It’s about us. Rejection hurts because we turn to others to validate our feelings and worth. We base our self-esteem on other people’s opinion, when in fact acceptance begins with accepting ourselves first.
6. It is not new. Regardless of how much we want to avoid it, we’ve been hurt before and we’ll get hurt again. Most importantly, we’ve managed to defeat this unpleasant emotion and emerged stronger every time.
7. It’s circumstantial. Often, people are not rejecting us – they’re rejecting our behaviour. Sometimes rejection is simply caused by an incompatibility of values, beliefs, or personality types between people.
8. It’s relative. Do I really want to be with someone who doesn’t want to me back? That’s not rejection – it’s a poor fit, the wrong person. It doesn’t mean I lack intrinsic values, but rather that we all have different preferences and world-views.
9. It takes practice. Avoiding situations only makes us more fearful of them. Rejection is simply an obstacle that prompts us to train ourselves harder to be able to move forward towards greater things.
1o. It brings something better. Rejection sometimes means that the thing you are attempting isn’t something you are ready for just yet. Often, we feel that we know exactly what we need to succeed and be happy in this world, but is it always true?