We’ve all experienced the pain of rejection. It’s disappointing to pour your heart and soul into an endeavor and fail. Everything you wanted seems to disappear into thin air. Our first thought is usually, “What’s wrong with me?” Yet, rather than letting rejection undermine your self-confidence, you can see it as a positive force leading to self-growth and clarity about what makes you happy.
Three Reasons Why Rejection is Painful
The pain of rejection is more profound than the disappointment of not getting what you wanted; it involves psychological issues involving appreciation, evolution, and upbringing.
Feeling appreciated is uplifting. We feel safe when we’re appreciated. Being rejected often undermines our security. If our mate rejects us, we think there’s something wrong with us. We think we’ve failed if we don’t get our well-earned bonus at work. We feel insecure about our value and erroneously believe we’ve got nothing to offer. Even though these feelings are painful, we can grow from them and feel more secure in ourselves.
The fear of rejection goes back to our ancient roots. When we lived in tribes and survived as hunter-gatherers, the price of being rejected or ostracised was equal to death. You couldn’t survive without your tribe and the warmth of the community fire. Fear of rejection is in our cells, making our response to it a normal part of being human.
3. Attachment Style
The need for connection is wired into us from birth and shapes our interaction with others. You may have heard of the term “attachment style,” which is a way to describe how people form relationships. People who felt supported and cared for as children develop a secure attachment style. They view themselves as being worthy and lovable. They react to rejection with perspective. On the other hand, children who didn’t feel secure and appreciated typically develop an insecure attachment style. Rejection can debilitate us when we feel unlovable. However, we can transform self-criticism into self-appreciation with practice.
The Error of Creating Emotional Walls
It’s natural to want to protect yourself from rejection. We falsely believe that we won’t get hurt if we keep our walls up. Some people hide behind a facade to manage what other people think of them. Unfortunately, when we keep our authentic selves hidden, we may unknowingly miss out on incredible opportunities.
The other thing that happens when we fear rejection is that we start to anticipate it. We think rejection is inevitable, so we jump the gun and reject the other person before they can reject us. You may feel a sense of control by being the rejector; however, you could also block yourself from connecting to someone or something that could be perfect for you if you had given it a chance.
It’s Not About You; It’s About Them
Most people don’t understand that rejection is not about them; it’s about the other person. Another person’s impressions of you are based on their attitudes and beliefs. For example, if you go to a field to pick flowers, you’ll see some flowers that attract you and others that don’t. There’s nothing wrong with any of the flowers; they are all beautiful, yet you prefer certain flowers over others. The flowers you weren’t attracted to don’t think they need to change; they know they’re perfect just the way they are. Like flowers in a field, we are all perfect, whether or not we are accepted or rejected.
Rejection Equals Protection
Like many, I’ve been rejected many times. Through therapy, I learned that “Rejection equals protection.” Something about the situation wasn’t good for me, but I couldn’t see it. Now, I trust that if I’m rejected, I’m being protected from a negative experience. If you’re rejected, have faith that you’re being shielded from something not in your best interest.
How to Manage Rejection
Getting rejected doesn’t have to be the end-all-be-all, and the experience can help you love yourself more deeply and discover your true desires. Here are four ways to grow from rejection.
1. Don’t Let Rejection Define Who You Are
Don’t allow your self-worth to depend upon someone else’s opinion of you. Other people’s impressions of you don’t mean that they’re true. Be careful not to make sweeping generalizations. If one company turns you down for a job, don’t decide that you are incompetent. If you get rejected by a love interest, don’t conclude that you’re unlovable. Keep rejection in perspective.
2. Acknowledge Your Emotions
Acknowledge your emotions rather than suppress, ignore, or deny them. Admit when you’re embarrassed, sad, disappointed, or discouraged. Trying to block out the pain only prolongs it. The best way to deal with uncomfortable emotions is to face them head-on.
3. Treat Yourself Gently
Rather than beating yourself up, be gentle and compassionate with yourself. When you experience negative self-talk, replace it with thoughts of self-affirmation. Speak to yourself like a trusted friend. Override your inner critic with positive thoughts.
4. See the Value in Rejection
Be grateful for the experience. Rejection is a stepping-stone to success. It will make you wiser — more attuned to the things you want out of life, and more knowledgeable about the best next steps. Use it as an opportunity to move forward with confidence.
See rejection in a positive light. Don’t give up! Colonel Sanders was the late founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) restaurants. He failed in just about every endeavor he was involved in throughout his life. However, at the age of sixty-five years old, he set out with his famous chicken recipe and only a $105 social security check to his name in an attempt to sell his franchise chicken model. Over 1,000 restaurants rejected him before one accepted his offer!
I am helping singles, couples, and families build loving relationships. Rejection is a part of relationships, and I can help you handle it with less pain. I offer safe and confidential coaching sessions designed to comfort and inspire you. You can contact me at (512) 922-4822 or buildlovingrelationships.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.