How Do I Cope With Rejection?
Rejection hurts. And we’ve all experienced it at one point or another. Perhaps you didn’t get the job offer you wanted, were ghosted by a friend or a romantic partner, or weren’t invited to a social event—only to see them posting about it all over social media. It hurts! We feel rejected when we’re not included, accepted, or approved of, and it involves the loss of something we had or wanted. This can leave us feeling unwanted and not good enough.
Because rejection is so painful, we naturally want to protect ourselves from any future rejection. We often do this by putting up emotional walls, or not sharing vulnerable parts of ourselves (Martin, 2021). The other thing that happens is we start to anticipate rejection, thinking it is inevitable. Because of this, we often jump the gun and reject the other person before they get a chance to reject us. We think that this will spare us the pain of losing someone or something we care about. This also makes us feel more in control. However, holding this “power position” doesn’t make the loss hurt any less.
Martin (2021) offers four tools for how to cope with rejection.
- Acknowledge the pain and grieve the loss.
Because rejection can be painful and can lead us to feeling ashamed or embarrassed, we often want to suppress our feelings, deny that we’re in pain, or do things like too much drinking or eating to cope.
However, grieving involves feeling your feelings, not denying or suppressing them. Crying, therapy, journaling, exercising, enjoying nature, self-care, and creating goodbye rituals can help. It’s important to give yourself time to let your feelings exist and process them. This can last just an hour, or you may even grieve for months if it was a major rejection.
- Don’t blame yourself.
As humans, we are constantly looking for answers to things. It’s natural to want to know why you were rejected. However, there aren’t always clear reasons. And when we don’t have answers, we often blame ourselves. We assume that we screwed up, that we’re unlovable, that we weren’t enough, etc. This dynamic becomes even more likely if you have been conditioned from a young age to believe that you’re inadequate and to blame yourself for being rejected. However, as you get older, it’s important to work on discarding these beliefs. As an adult, you’re better equipped to consider alternative theories.
For example, sometimes you don’t get the job because the person hiring decided to hire their niece. Or the person you went on a date with doesn’t call you back because they feel insecure. It’s not always about you, and it’s unfair to constantly blame yourself for things that are out of your control.
- Strengthen your resiliency.
Resiliency is your ability to recover or bounce back from a setback. This is a quality that can be learned and worked on. Things like having an open mind, avoiding all-or-nothing thinking, focusing on solutions and what you can learn from the experience, seeking support, having a sense of humor, focusing on your strengths, seeing mistakes as part of success, and practicing self-care are all things that can help strengthen your resiliency.
- Keep putting yourself out there.
Rejection can be part of the process. For example, plenty of writers and artists understand that rejection is necessary to get published or launch a successful career. And because they see it as normal and necessary, they don’t take it personally. This type of acceptance, as well as putting yourself out there, can help make rejection less painful.
If you find yourself struggling with coping with rejection, you may find it helpful to talk with one of our therapists at Symmetry Counseling. You can contact Symmetry today by calling 312-578-9990 to get matched with one of our licensed counselors.
Martin, S. (2021, June 14). 4 Strategies to Cope With Rejection. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/conquering-codependency/202106/4-strategies-cope-rejection.
Written by Kara Thompson-Miller, Licensed Clinical Social Worker: January 2023 “Why is it so hard to like my body?”: A unassumingly complex question that has been asked by many clients in many different variations, but one that, nonetheless, tends…Read More
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