Have you ever been rejected by someone important in your life? Perhaps you’ve been betrayed by a loved one, discarded by a narcissist, cheated on by a spouse, fired from a job, or left by someone you cared about with no explanation given.
Experiencing the sting of rejection is very difficult to come back from, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bounce back from it. In fact, I contend that you can be even more confident in yourself after the rejection than before.
The best thing to do if you have been subjected to this type of pain is to learn from it. Take this experience and use it to help yourself become resilient, mentally tough, self-accepting, and stronger than steel! Never waste a good trial. This is your opportunity to grow.
Here are some suggestions for how to not only heal from rejection, but also to grow from it.
- Let yourself grieve. Cry about the hurt and disappointment you feel over someone betraying you or abandoning you. Allow yourself the time you need to feel your pain. It is hard to be rejected. Acknowledge this for yourself without judgment. Grieve over the reality that this happened to you.Here’s a quote that can help you with this process (source unknown):
“Let yourself grieve, but don’t pitch a tent in the darkness. Look up at the stars and look forward to the dawn.”
- Talk to someone you trust about your feelings. Don’t keep yourself alone through this pain. When you tell your friends about your experience it helps remind you that you are lovable and valuable. Don’t let the rejecter in your life define your value. Ever.
Talk with safe people who will allow you the space you need to have your voice heard. Find validating and empathic people who can help you process your feelings. This is not the time to talk to people who will reinforce your worst thoughts about yourself. Do not spend time processing your feelings with critical or blaming people.
- Believe in yourself. Be determined to overcome this loss. Tell yourself, “I know this hurts, but I’ll survive and be fine in the end.” If someone rejects you, it is simply that one person’s opinion. Don’t make that one person’s opinion of you more valuable than your own opinion of yourself. Encourage yourself and never stop believing in yourself.
- “Get back up on the horse.” If you got fired from a job, for instance, go apply for another job and keep applying until you find one. If you got dumped by your girlfriend or boyfriend, once you’ve grieved enough, start dating again. Don’t let your experience remain one of rejection. Instead, let it be one of fortitude and resilience.
Watch yourself do the thing you are most afraid of doing. Watch yourself get up off the floor, shake the dust off, straighten your hat, and try again. The process of experiencing yourself persevering through a hardship is healing in and of itself.
If you find yourself just wallowing in the muck of your negative feelings, that is what you will experience about yourself. Part of healing and growing through rejection is learning to admire your own courage and fortitude. You can’t do this without action.
- Be okay with failure. The best way to overcome failure is to not only accept it, but embrace it. As Brene Brown likes to quote from Theodore Roosevelt:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
When you are willing to allow yourself to fail, then you can give yourself credit for merely trying. Let your success be measured by your willingness to attempt the challenge, rather than by the outcome.
Suppose you have been rejected by a lover. The way to apply this principle is to give yourself credit for being willing to love. Some people never take that risk. Remember, no one fails anything they don’t attempt in the first place.
- Accept yourself. No matter what you go through or who hurts you, it is wise for you to remember to always love and accept yourself. This does not happen if you berate yourself or blame yourself for the rejection.
Instead of allowing your “inner critic” a voice in the process of recovery, allow your “inner compassionate companion” to speak words of encouragement into your heart and mind. Make comments to yourself that reflect this:
“You can overcome this.”
“Everything will be okay.”
“Never give up; things will get better.”
“I believe in you.”
If you find yourself starting to be inwardly critical, change your inner dialogue. Do not indulge your “inner critic.” You aren’t going to heal from rejection if you keep rejecting yourself. Healing requires self-acceptance and self-love.
There are many things to learn about yourself when you have to heal from rejection. You will find, after the sting is gone and the grieving is underway, that you get to a place where you realize that the reject-er did you a favor; that you’re worth more than being somewhere where you are not wanted, and that you aren’t defined by your losses. In fact, you are better defined by what you do with hardships, rather than with the hardships themselves.
Remember the quote by Winston Churchill during World War II, as England was being battered by Hitler:
”Never, never, never give up.”
When Churchill made that declaration he had no guarantee of winning the war against Germany, but as history played out, we know the ending of the story. That type of grit, perseverance, and determination, will help you overcome and thrive after rejection.