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.  

Our Attachment History

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 that 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.

Rejection Is A State of Mind

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 rejection, they are inclined to second guess and criticize and therefore view future relationships less optimistically.

A Growth Mindset

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

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.

View Rejection As Change

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.

Illusion of Security

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.

Fantasy vs Reality

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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