Ugh, rejection. We have all been there. No one wants to go there again, but if you’re pushing boundaries and trying to grow, you’ll probably be rejected here and there. Today I’m talking about ways to deal with it so it doesn’t suck quite as much.
If you’re old enough to be reading blogs, then you’ve dealt with rejection in the course of your life. Maybe you were always picked last for dodge ball, or your high school crush wasn’t interested in you, or you got turned down for your dream job.
Regardless of the source of the rejection, I’m sure it hurt. And depending on the magnitude of the rejection it might have been devastating.
In fact studies actually show that the same places in your brain that get activated from rejection also get activated from physical pain. So when we say rejection hurts, we mean it.
To top off the misery that comes from the actual rejection, many of us make it worse by going down the road of negative self talk. We beat ourselves up over what we did wrong or how we could have said something different. This makes the pain of rejection worse and digs ourselves deeper into the depression pit.
While nothing will completely remove the sting that comes from rejection, how you handle it can have a huge effect on the impact of the rejection. If you are able to change your perspective and view the rejection as a learning experience you’ll likely to suffer less and move on more quickly than if you ruminate over the experience and take the rejection personally.
Before you suffer your next rejection, read on for 5 dos and don’ts to help you cope, and even thrive, through the experience.
DO DEAL WITH THE FEELINGS CAUSED BY REJECTION
Rejection sucks! Did I say that already? Well, it stands repeating.
But there’s just no getting around it. If you are being rejected then take that as a sign that you are out of your comfort zone and pushing your boundaries. And if you never get rejected then you might not be stretching yourself enough.
That doesn’t change the negative feelings you’re bound to have after the event.
Man is essentially a pack animal. We evolved in tribes and getting kicked out of the tribe was akin to death. No tribe, no fire, no protection, no safety.
While we no longer necessarily need other people to keep us alive in the same way we did 100,000 years ago, we still have that psychological dependence on those close to us. And when that gets violated, it hurts.
As with most things involving the brain the first step in dealing with it is to face the issue – in this case your feelings. It helps to label them: grief, frustration, anger, etc. This gives you a bit of distance from your emotions so you can start to analyze and work through them instead of swimming around in them until you drown.
This part is hard, but so important. Blowing them off or pushing them down will only lead to more struggles in the future.
And remember to treat yourself with compassion through this process. Rejection is hard enough without beating yourself up even more.
Allow yourself time to process your emotions and regain your confidence so that you can start swinging for the fences again.
DON’T AVOID REJECTION AT ALL COSTS
Some people, in an effort to avoid the discomfort of rejection, will avoid situations where they can be rejected. This gives power to that situation and can cause you to have anxiety about it.
If you’re afraid of being rejected by new people, for example, then you might start avoiding social situations. Before you know it you’re dealing with social anxiety and refusing to go to gatherings.
This behavior can then cause loneliness and depression. And then by continuing to avoid the social situation, you aren’t able to maintain friendships that could help you combat your feelings. It’s a negative cycle that feeds on itself.
People that avoid rejection to this level might be overly sensitive to it, or they might just have a fixed mindset. More on this in the next section.
If you’re having trouble coping with your feelings around the rejection seek out some trust worthy friends to discuss your feelings. Some outside input and some compassion from others can help you get a better perspective on your reaction.
DO ADOPT A GROWTH MINDSET
If you have a fixed mindset about a situation you take to heart the rejection on a personal level. You see the rejection of you as a person – that in your eyes can never change who they are.
If you were rejected for a job it’s because you’re stupid or unskilled. If you got rejected for a that date it’s because you are unlovable. Did you get voted off the island? Clearly you weren’t meant for reality tv.
All of these viewpoints are from a fixed mindset. They are of the belief that you are who you are and that can’t be changed.
However a person with a growth mindset would see things in a different light. Didn’t get the job? Maybe you just weren’t a good fit for that role. Didn’t get that date? Maybe they weren’t ready to date again. Voted off the island? Maybe you were so good you were a threat to the competition.
The rejection has happened. There’s nothing to be done about that part, but the way you view it can change how you handle it. By simply changing your mindset you can relieve so much self imposed stress.
We internalize so many things that happen in the world and view them as being caused by some shortcoming of our own. However, what if it’s not you, it’s them? And maybe because you didn’t get this opportunity, you’re able to grow from it and get something even better down the road.
While rejection isn’t fun, take it as a sign of growth. Even if you didn’t get your article printed, or land that job, or get that date, you probably learned something in the process which will make you a better person.
For more on developing a growth mindset, check out this article.
DON’T LET REJECTION SEND YOU INTO A NEGATIVE SPIRAL
Did you ever fail a test that you thought you had in the bag? What were your thoughts afterwards? Was it something along the lines of how stupid you were and how could think you could even pass this test? On and on and on and on?
Been there, done that, got the t shirt.
Rejection is hard enough without us making it worse. Psychologist Guy Winch says that the pain we deal with is 50% the rejection itself and 50% us beating ourselves up over it afterwards.
I don’t know about you but I feel all of that.
The first step to stopping the self talk is to cut it off in its tracks. As soon as you hear yourself talking to yourself in a negative way stop yourself and reframe what you were saying. If you were calling yourself dumb for having messed up an interview, switch that comment to remind yourself about something that you’re good at.
It will be hard at first, and might feel like a waste of energy, but it will save you in the long run. The less you go down that negative self talk road, the less you will do it. If you allow yourself to beat yourself up, you are letting negative self talk become a habit.
If you struggle with negative self talk, check out this article for the full method I used to quit being so mean to myself.
DO A SELF WORTH CHECK IN
A self worth check is a way for you to get your mind off the negative and back onto the positive.
Because our minds have evolved more to keep us safe from danger and alive than to savor happy moments, we tend to dwell on negative experiences. That makes the reason for the rejection more top of mind than all the other great things about you.
In an effort to switch this thinking, Guy Winch offers the self worth check in.
Take a moment to list 5 things that are valuable about yourself. Then once you are done with your list pick 1 think and write (yes with pen and paper – not just in your head) why this thing matters.
For example, are you a good listener? Who does that impact? How does that improve your and/or someone else’s life? What good does this trait bring to the world?
This exercise can either be done immediately before a potential rejection which will help your bolster your resilience through the situation if you do get rejected or as emotional self care after a rejection.
Rejection sucks. But if you’re growing and improving, you’re likely to get rejected here and there. By dealing with your feelings, changing your perspective, and viewing the potential learning opportunities you cut back on the negative feelings and move on more quickly.
If you’re struggling with finding your path, moving forward, and getting the things you want in life, please contact me here. Coaching with me can help you work through what’s stopping your growth and give you the clarity you need to move forward.