Rejection stinks—no denying it. After a rejection or two, you might think it is hopeless, but have no fear: your unchosen status can be left behind.
Not being chosen for something, or by someone, you really want is tough. It might even make you start thinking that it’s you, and not them, with the problem. This is common behavior after a rejection, and finding your motivation and spirit again can be an arduous process.
You have to take time to explore the situation to learn from it and grow. Doing so gives you the opportunity to make changes where necessary, and to become more secure with the person you are, so rejection doesn’t throw you for such a loop the next time.
Have you ever wondered why being rejected sucks so much? It all started back in ancient times.
No man left behind
Being part of a group used to be more necessary and important than it is now. Ancient cultures were built and maintained by a group. It was nearly impossible for one individual to gather food and protect himself all on his own; instead, it was the group that made it possible for everyone to survive.
If, for some reason, you got separated from your group, you most assuredly would die. Therefore, the fear of being alone is hardwired into our brains.
While being turned down for a date or not getting a promotion are not life-or-death situations, your brain still responds as if they are. This is why you feel so lost and desperate when you get rejected.
Getting over rejection and moving on for good
Now that you have a better understanding of rejection and why it hurts so much, it’s time to start getting over it. Here’s how you can bounce back from rejection and become stronger in spite of it.
#1 Take care of yourself. When your situation makes you feel worthless, it’s easy to let yourself go. After all, why should you care about yourself when no one else does? This is harmful, unproductive thinking that gets you nowhere.
Instead of vegging in front of the TV, or lying in bed all day, moping, get up, shower, and get dressed. Treat your body well by eating healthy foods and exercising, even if you have to force it. The better care you take of yourself, the better you’ll feel.
#2 Believe the truth. The rejection you experienced is simply one person’s opinion at one particular point in time. It’s not the ultimate opinion about who you are or what you’re worth. Heck, the rejecter may not even know you that well. Choose to believe this as truth. And choose this truth over and over, especially when you find yourself dwelling on the rejection again.
#3 Realize the pain will end eventually. You know the old saying, “Time heals all wounds,” don’t you? Well, it definitely applies here. You might feel as if the pain of rejection is going to last forever, or at least until it kills you, but the truth is that the pain ends eventually, all on its own.
One day, you’ll wake up and realize you feel a little better—that life just might be worth living again. It’s okay to take some time to grieve your rejection, but keeping in mind that the pain of it is temporary helps you get over it that much quicker.
#4 It’s okay to grieve. No matter the reason for the rejection or area of life it occurs in, rejection is usually accompanied by strong emotions. In many cases, they can be overwhelming. Fear, anger, grief: they’re all normal feelings after being rejected.
The trick to overcoming the rejection, though, is to not squelch the feelings you’re having. The grieving process includes several stages, so allow enough time to experience and work through each one properly in order to get past your rejection.
#5 Share with people you trust. Don’t be afraid to talk to people you trust about how you’re feeling. Talking to friends and family helps you realize you’re not alone and, regardless of what the person who rejected you thinks, other people do like you and want you around. Talking about your feelings with others helps you process your emotions and gain insight and opinions you might not have considered before.
#6 Stop obsessing about the rejection. After being rejected, many people tend to revisit the rejection over and over again, hoping to figure out why it happened. Stop it. Don’t do it. Replaying the rejection again and again, looking for mistakes you might have made or things you might have said wrong isn’t going to help you move past it. It will keep you in the moment for as long as you obsess over it, so do yourself a favor and let the moment stay where it belongs: firmly in the past.
#7 Counteract self-critical thoughts. Right away, most people blame themselves for their rejections. “If only I had…” or “Why can’t I be more…?” These types of thoughts never make you feel better, and the majority of them are not true.
For instance, if you’re passed over for a job, and you start blaming yourself for not taking an internship the previous year instead of traveling, stop right there. Instead of taking the blame for not scoring that job, tell yourself, “No, you know you wouldn’t have been happy in that internship instead of traveling. Besides, I learned more traveling the world than I ever learned at any job.”
Being able to be objective about rejection allows you to see that it probably wasn’t completely your fault.
#8 Don’t get stuck. Earlier, I said you should feel your feelings. Now, I’m saying don’t get stuck in them. What I mean by that is, it’s one thing to allow yourself to grieve and process your emotions, but it’s another to let them run your life. If you begin noticing your feelings turning into bitterness, or if anger or depression keeps you from taking part in everyday life, do what you have to do to move on from those feelings.
Seek therapy or take medication to regulate your emotions until you get to a better place. Sometimes, being rejected can have such a profound effect on us that we aren’t strong enough to overcome it on our own—and that’s perfectly alright.
#9 Learn your lesson. Each rejection carries a lesson with it. Figuring out what this lesson is could make it easier to move beyond the rejection. The lesson could be something you would do differently if ever you were in the same situation again, or it could simply be learning that not everyone sees things the same way you do.
#10 Consider making changes. Even if the rejection was not your fault, you might consider making changes in how you handle a situation like that in the future. For example, you might practice an interview before actually going to one next time. Or maybe you’ll choose not to participate in online dating again.
#11 Get back on your feet. All of the tips thus far will certainly help you bounce back from a rejection. Ultimately, though, the best way to get past it is by getting back out there. Make new friends, apply for another job, or ask someone out on a date. I’m not saying you have to do any of this right away, but it should be something you keep in the back of your mind from the beginning.
If you find it hard to get back into the swing of things, making small victories can help you regain your confidence. You might stage a mock interview with a friend who does the hiring at his job to get feedback on what you can do better. Or, you might take a friend out on a date just to get your feet wet again. Whatever you choose, remember that practice makes perfect—in all areas of life.
Rejection really sucks, but with just a little willpower on your part, and the help of some good friends and family, you can bounce back and move beyond the hurt and disappointment. In fact, you can be even stronger than before.
Using these tips as a guide, you can identify what you can learn from rejection and how to get over it, and move on as a happier, healthier, and stronger individual.