Rejection: How To Embrace It

Throughout life we can find ourselves in situations in which we feel rejected which tends to occur most frequently in our romantic or social relationships or in our careers and professional lives.  When we experience rejection we are more likely to question ourselves, which can often result in self-doubt, low self-esteem, a decrease in motivation, and a fear of future rejection.  For most of us our initial instinct is to hide from rejection when it takes place because of the pain and discomfort that tends to come with it.  When we hide from rejection, we modify our beliefs and behavior in order to accommodate our fears, which prevent us from opportunities that we normally would consider seeking as well as reinforce our negative thoughts and feelings. 

Like most challenging situations, we can learn to effectively manage instances of rejection so that we benefit and grow from it.  Here are some steps we can take to embrace rejection when it happens to us:

  • Identify and acknowledge your thoughts and feelings associated with rejection in order to evaluate and clarify the meaning of it. Journaling can be an effective tool to help you do this.
  • Focus on the affirmation that rejection does not mean failure and use it to help you reframe your beliefs about the situation.  For example, if you are not offered a job that you interviewed for consider specific areas of improvement that may help you learn and grow from so that it better prepares you for the next opportunity.
  • Focus on the effort you put in to something, not on the end result.  Just because a situation does not work out in your favor does not mean that there were not positive aspects of the situation that you benefitted from.  Being able to focus on your positive traits will combat self-doubt, lack of motivation, or a decrease in self-esteem.
  • Get out of your comfort zone.  In order to challenge your fears of rejection, consider opportunities that require you to take small risks.  This may include initiating conversations with strangers or approaching a potential employer directly to propose how you may be a good fit for them. The more often you put yourself out there, the more likely your fears will decrease.
  • Look for opportunities of rejection.  Rejection tends to have the most impact on individuals who experience success and positive feedback on a frequent basis because their view of themselves is being challenged.  Consider situations that you are likely to receive honest feedback from that may not always be positive in order to learn and grow from it.
  • Be patient with yourself.  Change does not occur over night so try to be compassionate with yourself during this process.

~ Cory Stege, M.S., LMFT