Rejection is a normal part of a person's life but some people struggle with intense hurt and difficulty moving forward. There are basic strategies we can learn from rejection and questions to ask if professional help may be warranted.
Best-Selling Author, Entrepreneur, Wealth Creator, and TV Commentator Robert Pagliarini said, “Instead of trying to bob and weave what life throws at us, I'd rather have the comfort of knowing that I can take life's best shot and be able to get back up and move forward. To me, that's empowerment.”
In an episode of Cartoon Network’s "The Grim Adventures of Bill and Mandy," a grownup spider struggles with feelings of rejections by the father who “hatched” him — Billy. Fed up with trying to win his affection he finally snaps, corners him and yells, “Love me Dad! Looooove meeeee!”
While this is a comedic reaction to rejection it is also an accurate assessment of what many people experience emotionally. Although a normal part of a person’s life, rejection can cause many people to feel stuck, confused, or feel the hurt deeper than normal. Some people do not feel empowered.
Think of it as being deferred
“No” usually just means “not now.” It’s all about the timing. Dream job rejection? Just not at that firm. Lost the love of your life? Not at this moment and not with that person. You are only being turned away by a person or entity, not by the ability to achieve something. Intimate love, family cohesiveness, and artistic acceptance can be found at another time and with another venue, which leads to:
It's not you, it’s them — find your own people
Sometimes we will have problems with not fitting into certain groups. We won’t fit in everywhere. We don’t have to fit in everywhere. Maria Brophy, an art licensing and marketing consultant at MariaBrophy.com, wrote the following:
“ ... our persona is not going to be a match with everyone. We have our people, and they love us. And the other people, well, they have their own thing that we just don’t fit with. And that’s OK. We all have to find the people that get us, that understand what we are doing, and that appreciate it.”
After you find that you don’t fit in somewhere, take some time to grieve if it is needed, then view it as an opportunity and go and find people that get you.
Be careful of how much power you are handing over
Do you let too much ride on a relationship or project that is getting rejected? Exactly who is rejecting you? It is probably one person, one individual, or one group. It’s not the entire universe (as much as your emotions are screaming that it is). Thoughts are real but it doesn’t mean they are true. Take a deep breath and do your best to separate thought, emotion, and logic. The quicker you allow facts and logical thinking to take control the less chance there is of spiraling into a depression and slipping into old patterns of not feeling “good enough.”
Do I need help?
Rejection begins at a very young age so most people recognize the feelings immediately. Feeling low, gloomy, and despondent for a few days is normal. Depending on the nature of the rejection these sad feelings may last for a few weeks. Although there is no set time frame for when a person should be “bouncing back” C. Brendan Hallett of Salt Lake City's Center For Human Potential suggests answering some questions to determine if a person may need to seek professional help:
Do I feel badly or worse about myself after rejection for an extended period?
Do I feel less capable?
Do I like myself less?
Do I feel like I can’t bounce back and try again?
Does the rejection get turned into lower self-esteem?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes it is a good idea to find a mental health care provider that you feel comfortable with to help you understand why you are feeling stuck.
It is important to be aware of your own programming
“It begins with self-efficacy — a belief in what you can or can’t do,” Hallett says. It begins in childhood when a person may not have had a supportive environment when he or she was experiencing the normal experiences of rejection.
“So as an adult when rejection comes they feel, ‘Oh, here we go again’ and the person feels powerless, it sets them back,” Hallett continues. “For a person who was raised to feel supported, when life gives rejection — which happens all the time — they know how to better overcome it and approaches [rejection] as an opportunity.”
Hallett stresses that somehow a person needs to internalize the idea that he or she matters, to somehow separate what happened — the rejection — from his or her capabilities.
“Try to avoid letting the rejection make you feel bad about yourself or that you can’t do it,” he advises. “It comes down to that internalization, whether you can deal with setbacks or whether you need a different approach.”
Rejection is a normal — and necessary — part of a human being’s life. It is normal to want to feel secure and rejection can leave a person feeling abandoned, frightened and insecure. But these feelings don’t have to linger. Try to change the way you view rejection (seeking help if you need it) and recognize that it’s only temporary. Avoid letting the rejection make you feel bad about yourself or that you can’t do something. We can get back up and move forward. We can become empowered.
Ramona Siddoway writes from Houston, Texas. An avid traveler she has published articles in Angola, Brussels, and the UK as well as the United States. Besides contributing to FamilyShare she writes for Young Adults and Middle Grade. Ramona is married with four children, a dog that is paranoid about the outdoor sprinkler system and an Angolan cat that is incredibly snarky when she is cold.