Everyone deals with rejection, but not everyone has developed the appropriate processes for moving past and onto the next positive opportunity. Self-care, patience and redirection can make all the difference.
No one is immune to rejection — not even your favorite compliance and risk professional. If you imagine the most beautiful, talented, well-liked people you have ever met, every single one of them has experienced rejection at some point. Frankly, rejection is healthy and if you haven’t had a good dose lately, it probably means that maybe you have gotten way too comfortable and aren’t putting yourself out there enough to strive.
Different stages in life bring different opportunities and challenges where we need to engage in more or less risk and potentially be vulnerable to rejection. Whether it is college applications, sports tryouts, budgetary requests, dating, job interviews, professional opportunities like promotions — all of these are examples of when sometimes you may venture and not reach the desired objective.
While rejection is pretty much inevitable, it still hurts. No one loves disappointment. Rejection can generate a slew of emotions. We all want to feel connected and valuable to others. When there is rejection or a lack of acceptance, it can be hard not to internalize negative thoughts about our own self-worth or to just feel isolated and alone. The pain is sometimes hard to ignore. The same area of the brain is activated when experiencing social pain as when experiencing physical pain.
Other studies have shown that emotional pain is more vivid when recalled at a later time than memories of physical pain. This accounts for why it is likely easier for you to remember that horrible break-up from decades ago than the broken bone you experienced two years ago.
With that in mind, it’s important to navigate through rejection and find a different way to contextualize situations in which you felt rejected. There are a few steps that can help you to manage through the pain.
Develop the narrative of redirection
One of my favorite ways to shift my views in the face of rejection is to recast the landscape as a redirection. Redirection is simply a moment when we are being taught something and moving toward better experiences, people and situations. It may be that this is not your moment for a particular opportunity. Rejection isn’t bad; it simply means that something wasn’t meant for us right now. There is an element of protection in redirection because we are open to something that we may never have envisioned. So rather than getting stuck in a narrative of “why not” when rejection happens, try to look at a narrative of “what if” and think about the possibilities of an alternative path.
Allow yourself to feel
The emotions that come with rejection are real and should be felt fully. Holding things in or bottling up feelings isn’t healthy. What is important in all of it however is to not get lost in perseverating on the pain. Finding ways to cope and adjust to changes is critical to long-term healing and success.
Spend time with people who are supportive
During times of rejection, make sure to be around people who are supportive and helpful. Isolation won’t help you navigate rejection, and a little help from friends to find new paths and creative solutions can help speed up the healing process. It’s also important to realize that you can’t always be accepted for every opportunity or by every person. (Can you imagine if every school you applied to accepted you and you had to attend them all at the same time? Or if every time you swiped right, you had to go on a date?)
Practice self-love and self-care
Even with the best of intentions and contextualization, it is still important to practice some self-care and have a positive relationship with yourself. Make sure to be gentle with yourself immediately after a rejection. Find the things that bring you joy and lean into them. Make a list of positive traits about yourself and list your accomplishments big and small.
Redirect your energy on going forward and finding out what is in store for you next, knowing every rejection is simply a push toward other opportunities.