Rejection is a normal part of life, though it can certainly be a painful part. It can take many forms, from romantic rejection (e.g. a rejected marriage proposal) to social rejection (e.g. not being invited to an event) to professional rejection (e.g. not getting a job you’re applying for).
Certain individuals can be more sensitive to rejection than others, and psychologists have even postulated a condition known as Rejection-Sensitive Dysphoria. A sensitivity in which people’s self-worth is particularly vulnerable.
Indeed, rejection can take a toll on our well-being, leading to increased anger, anxiety, depression, and other negative emotions. Possibly even reducing intellectual performance and contributing to aggression and decreased impulse control.
But how we deal with rejection may be more important than avoiding it, which seems to be an inevitable part of life.
1. Be Honest With Yourself
Welcome to being human—it comes with a whole bunch of unwanted feelings! When we are rejected, we may experience discomfort, anger, jealousy, or a whole range of other feelings. Allowing ourselves to genuinely feel these feelings sets the stage for being able to process them and deal with them.
We’ve all met (or at times even been) the person who says that everything is fine when things clearly aren’t. A commitment to maturity is a basic requirement for healing in earnest, and maturity involves being honest about how you’re feeling with yourself and with others.
2. Don’t Take it Personally
The most powerful tip for dealing with rejection may just be to not take rejection personally. This is certainly easier said than done, but rejection has more to do with what other people are wanting or needing than it has to do with you and your worth.
In a way, rejection is not about you, it’s about them. Your self-worth should never be determined by someone else’s needs.
3. Rejection Does Not Mean Never
Sometimes, rejection is less about no and more about not now. Say for example you’re applying for a job and you don’t get the position; this doesn’t mean that you’re never going to be a match for that position, only that you’re not what that employer is looking for at that time. Making the shift from “not me” to “not me now” makes room for personal and professional growth.
This is also true in a social context. Maybe you’re looking to rekindle an old friendship in which mistakes were made and people were hurt. That person may not be interested in going there with you, as trust has been broken… but that doesn’t mean that that bridge is burned, only that it’s out of commission for the time being.
4. Rejection Is Redirection
Over the past few months, a new hashtag has been trending on Twitter. The hashtag is #rejectionisredirection, and the posts are heartwarming and inspiring. As professionals, and also as humans and emotional beings, we really have to put ourselves out there. And sometimes, the answer to all we have to offer is no (or not now).
But this doesn’t mean we have to kick ourselves and tell ourselves that we have failed. If we can see rejection as redirection, rejection becomes a sort of gift that helps us to recalibrate or to steer our lives in another direction… maybe an even better one!
5. Focus On Gratitude Instead Of Rejection
In a previous post, we’ve talked about the importance of gratitude and specifically of making yourself a list of things you are grateful for as a resource that you can use in your self-care and recovery. Feeling gratitude is in some ways the opposite of feeling rejection.
It helps us to take inventory of the many amazing things that we do have in our lives rather than hyper-fixate on the one thing we were not given when we asked for it. By focusing on gratitude, we can mitigate the negative effects of rejection and welcome more harmony into our lives.
Rejection In Addiction
It’s not uncommon for people who are living with addiction and problematic substance use to live with a pervasive fear of rejection. In the words of Gregory L. Jantz Ph.D., “addiction wants to leave loved ones in the dark as long as possible.”
People live with the pervasive fear that they’ll be discovered as an impostor, or that they’ll be abandoned by the ones they love once the truth gets out. With such fear of rejection in place, it’s no surprise that many people choose not to open up about their substance use, even when they know it’s problematic and not sustainable.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
At Sunshine Coast Health Centre and Georgia Strait Women’s Clinic, we support individuals through an evidence-based holistic approach that focuses on all aspects of individuals’ healing. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction or mental health, give us a call today.