No matter what form it comes in, rejection carries side effects that can throw us off track. Rejection can take away precious moments with loved ones, distract us from doing well at work, and slowly (or quickly) take over our thought life. Recently I experienced repeated disappointments and I discovered there are 3 ways I deal with rejection.
Whether it’s a friendship fizzling out, an opportunity we keep going after, or a job application is rejected; I’ve discovered that the side effects of rejection can be similar even if the cause of it is different.
The sickness in the pit of my stomach, the aching in my heart, and seeds of doubt echoing in my mind begin to take over my attitude and perspective.
- “Why did things go that way?”
- “Was there something I could have done differently?”
- “What’s wrong with me?”
Only two of the three questions are constructive and then, only when answered with a kind and gracious heart. We can be really tough on ourselves when given the opportunity. And those of us with brains changed due to trauma, it can be an even more delicate situation to navigate. At different times, rejection has triggered either my fight or flight, depression, or anxiety. If I am not proactive I can allow myself to end up in a really unhealthy place.
By the way, this can happen over the slightest thing sometimes. Everyone is invited to a baby shower but you (real-life story) or a few people are closer in a social group and it makes you feel unwelcome. Peers are advancing in their careers while you are venturing into a new one or your career does not appear to “measure up.” Rejection can happen in various situations.
As humans, we have the opportunity to experience rejection often. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s just part of the human experience. So how do we proactively navigate life after rejection, so that we continue dreaming and living in the world around us?
Here are some strategic ways I deal with rejection:
- DIG in right where you are today, tomorrow, and the next week. Look around your life and pick 3 ways to contribute to those already present. A few examples; send an encouraging note to a friend, volunteer for a one time event, mow the neighbor’s lawn, surprise someone with seasonal goodies. It’s important to spread this out over a week or two because those whispers of doubt may return after a couple of days. Give back to those you already know and have relationships with. For me it’s like a soothing balm to the sting.
- DO something you enjoy. After a recent rejection, I went to the gym, read a good book, and connected with dear friends. I needed to remind myself of my value and what I enjoyed doing, and then I had to go do it! I have discovered that it is essential to stay active after feeling rejected. I’m sure there is science behind it, but simply, moving my body helps me feel alive.
- Discover an interest, whether it’s from the past or happens to be new. Is there a hobby you are curious about? Maybe a topic you want to explore? Stretch your mind! I learned how to use a new power tool and loved it! Then again, I love tools.
Rejection is never easy to “bounce back” from unless you are conditioned to repeatedly put yourself out there.
So my hope today is to provide practical ways to deal with the rejection so that you do not become “sucked in” by the side effects when it happens. These are strategies that help me feel “neutral” instead of battling a pit of despair in my stomach or letting the whispers of doubt become loud voices.
If you’d like to learn more ways to bounce back from difficult moments, join We are Women Rising Community. It’s an encouraging group of women who lift eachother up in difficult moments.