How to cope with rejection
We all experience rejection at some point in our lives. It could be in relationships, in friendships or in a work context. Often we find our self-esteem plummeting and we are left asking: What’s wrong with me? Hard as it may seem, rejection does not have to be an entirely negative experience. Instead, it can be an opportunity for growth.
We all experience rejection at some point in our lives. It could be in relationships, in friendships or in a work context. Often we find our self-esteem plummeting and we are left asking: What’s wrong with me?
While many of us seek to avoid rejection by being perfect, in truth the only way to avoid rejection is to avoid any situation in which rejection may occur. Some of us avoid relationships altogether (or sabotage them) for this very reason. In our efforts to avoid rejection, we can end up being the ones doing the rejecting. We reject others, new experiences, challenges and adopt a very low risk kind of life.
Hard as it may seem, rejection does not have to be an entirely negative experience. Instead, it can be an opportunity for growth.
First of all, when we get rejected we can be proud of ourselves. In order to get rejected we first had to put ourselves out there. Although it may not have worked out this time, we have had the courage to open ourselves up to an experience, whether in our personal or professional lives.
Now faced with rejection we have the opportunity to do something useful with it. When we bounce back from a setback we grow resilience. It makes us stronger.
But how do we bounce back? One of the key ways is to find the learning in our experience.
We can ask ourselves: Why did this not work out? What was my contribution?
Finding our own contribution is very powerful as this is the bit we can do something about. Of course there are always elements outside of our control, but there is often some learning about ourselves that we can find if we look for it.
For example, after a relationship rejection we might find ourselves asking, ‘Why does this always happen to me?’ It’s a great question. In this scenario we we might recognise that we are consistently drawn to partners who are not emotionally available.Although we can often feel very low when we have repeated negative experiences, actually if we can identify a pattern in our lives it’s a great starting point to doing something about it. If we are responsible for it, then we can also change it.
Often when we realise there's a pattern and want to set about changing, we find it harder than we hoped. Sometimes that's because in some way, there's a payoff for NOT changing. By living out our patterns we get to confirm some long-held belief about ourselves or we get to avoid something that we're scared of.
When we understand what keeps us stuck we can start to let go of it. Therapy can help with this as often the reasons why we have patterns in our lives can be linked to our childhood experiences or to deeply held beliefs we hold about ourselves and others.
Through exploring the origins of our patterns and what keeps us in them, we can start to move forward in positive ways. We can open ourselves up to life – and also to rejection – in a new way,