Dealing With Rejection

To Deal with Rejection: Change Your Perspective

Rejection is an almost unavoidable aspect of being human.
Nobody has ever succeeded in love or in life without facing rejection. Most of
us experience it, and yet, those times when we do are often the times, we feel
the most lonely, outcast, and unwanted. In reality, a lot of the hurt and
struggle we eventually overcome, is not dependent on the reduction of the
feeling itself but on what we tell ourselves about the encounter.  It involves the unkind ways we put ourselves
down or the way we flood ourselves with hopeless thoughts about the future.
Studies even show that our response to rejection can also be based on
components and events from the past, such as our attachment history. Because of
this, how we respond to rejection is often equally or more important than the
rejection itself. This is the reason learning how to deal with rejection is so
important.

There are a number of ways to learn how to manage rejection.
These include psychological and spiritual approaches and techniques which
involve positive reflection on our past, improving our self-awareness, and
strengthening our sense of self-worth to feel more in control when coping with
a present struggle and facing an uncertain future. Here are a few of the most
effective strategies for how to deal with rejection.

Our ability to observe things as “changeable" can have
a strong influence on how we cope with rejection. Stanford researchers recently
discovered that a person’s basic beliefs about character can contribute to the
pain of rejection. Their research revealed that people who have “fixed
mindsets" and see character as “set in stone” are more likely to blame
themselves and their own personality for a relational separation. When they
encounter a rejection, they are inclined to second guess and criticize and
therefore view future relationships less optimistically. On the other hand,
people who have a “growth mindset" see their character as something which can
be adaptable or developed. They're able to view the separation as a chance to
grow and change. They are optimistic that their romantic future will evolve,
and relationships will get better. If we can adopt the perspective that life is
flexible and losses offer us a chance to develop and evolve into a whole
person, we will suffer less when we encounter rejection.

How to Deal with Rejection: Pay Attention to Your Internal
Critic

As human beings, we are not only influenced by what happens
to us but by the filter through which we view what happens to us. Dr.'s Robert
and Lisa Firestone have written extensively about the function of an individual’s
“critical inner voice" in coloring how they see the world. Like a mean
trainer living inside our minds, this inner critic is intended to condemn,
undermine, and deceive us. This "critical inner voice" often develops
from negative early life experiences which gave us a basic feeling of being
wrong and never measuring up. During our lifetime, this negative voice
represents a type of "anti-self," the side of ourselves that always
seems to turn against us.

The "voice" signifies a harmful thought process
that often hurts us in life and in relationships, frequently attacking us when
we're most vulnerable. When we're dealing with a rejection, this voice whispers,
"See, I told you it wouldn’t work out. Nobody will ever actually like you.
You will never find anyone who values you.” Additionally the voice says, "You
should not have put yourself out there. You can't ever trust anyone again. You
will only get hurt."

We're all human and flawed and probably have actual things
we would like to work on within ourselves, but this voice is never a friend to
us and isn't conducive to real change. When we need to deal with a breakup, we
can feel a lot stronger and much better able to proceed down the corridors of
life when we are able to accept ourselves.

When we encounter rejection, we will evolve if we’re able to view whatever or whoever is rejecting us as instruments of change. Jobs will be seen as stepping stones when we don’t get them. Dates can be viewed more positively when they don’t call back. And relationships which were difficult or made us unhappy we will begin to accept as learning experiences once they’ve ended. Handling rejection is much harder when we're mourning something that didn't really exist in the glowing ways we tend to remember them. We seem only able to recall the few positive experiences in that relationship instead of the array of negative experiences.

Many times, couples who struggle with closeness are already
dealing with a certain amount of what Dr. Robert Firestone calls a "fantasy
bond," which constitutes an illusion of security and connection that
replaces real love, intimacy, and affection. Eventually, when one partner
decides to terminate the relationship, the other person is left feeling
victimized, not just concerning the relationship, but also the dreamworld they
created of being positively attached to another. They forget or ignore the ways
they fought, the elements of their relationship that did not gel with the other
person, as well as the qualities they did not like in that partner or about their
connection.

When we feel rejected, even if we feel anger towards another
person or circumstance, we are frequently, on some level, more prepared to tear
ourselves apart, while reinforcing the person who's rejecting us. We idealize
the individual or the connection and long for this situation, while
simultaneously strengthening the concept that we are ‘less than’ or ‘unworthy’.
What we must realize is that this sense of unworthiness often has much deeper
roots within us. Therefore, what is tormenting us often has less to do with the
reality of what we lost and much more to do with the underlying feelings about
ourselves which compel us to think fantasy over reality.

To Deal with Rejection: Practice Self-Acceptance

At the University of Arizona researcher David Sbarra found
that people who had gotten divorced but had a high amount of self-acceptance reported
fewer intrusive negative thoughts, fewer bad dreams about the divorce, and less
negative reflection.

Self-acceptance as characterized by lead researcher and
writer, Dr. Kristin Neff, involves three important elements.

Fundamentally, we should treat ourselves the same way we
treat a friend; sensitive and empathetic to our struggle.

  1. This is not about feeling sorry for ourselves or
    denying our errors, but it's about not being judgmental or unkind toward
    ourselves.

  • Practice assimilation versus isolation: Neff
    highlights the recognition that nobody is alone in their struggle, though it
    may feel like this at times. All human beings suffer, and many have experienced
    rejection. Lots of individuals have been down a similar path, and we ought to
    feel confident and connected when it comes to our future.

  • Practice mindfulness: Along with having almost
    countless physical and mental health benefits, mindfulness helps us to prevent
    over-identifying with painful thoughts and feelings that come up.

Whether you learn about areas in your life that need
improvement, or you simply recognize that getting brushed off isn't awful as
you imagined, rejection can be a good teacher. Use rejection as an opportunity
to move forward with more wisdom.

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