Rejection. It hurts. No matter what the size or severity, rejection is one of the biggest challenges to self-love. From not getting a call back after what you thought was a great first date, to not getting the job you thought you were perfect for, rejection triggers a dangerous dose of self-doubt. And it happens to all of us. Often it is during the twenty-something years that one experiences a big rejection for the first time, such as getting dumped or being laid off. So it’s the perfect time to learn how to receive “perceived” rejection (and I will explain why I use the word “perceived”) in a way that brings you more peace rather than more pain.
Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase, “Rejection is God’s protection.” I believe this to be true, but like most clichés when recited to us in the midst of a big blow, it may sound more annoying than immediately comforting. First it’s important to just surrender to the fact that rejection does not feel good. A lot of self-help advice is geared toward feeling better quickly and sometimes that is not always possible. Accept the fact that you may feel hurt and angry. Give yourself permission to express those feelings in a healthy way such as journaling, speaking to a coach/counselor/mentor, taking it out in a kickboxing class or having a good cry. Resist the immediate temptation to pump yourself full of positive thinking or pontificate as to why this is happening. You are a human being and it’s natural if feeling rejected stings a bit. Feel your feelings without judgment or analysis so they can move up and out rather than suppressing them. Sometimes we experience things that feel hurtful because our soul is yearning to learn how to be compassionate toward ourselves and break patterns of feeling punished or victimized.
Which brings me to the next important step in dealing with rejection: be compassionate with yourself. If you just got dumped, fired, left out or turned down, please do not add to your suffering by being hard on yourself. Going into self-blame and judgment continues to feed the rejection because now you are rejecting yourself! Be kind to yourself with your thoughts and actions. Witness your self-talk and redirect it when you begin to downward spiral into negativity. One of the most effective and compassionate things you can say to yourself is, “I did the best I could.” And believe it! Trust me, if you could have done better, you would have.
Next, do not take the rejection personally. Speaking from experience, I know this is extremely difficult. In my late twenties when my fiancé broke up with me six months before our wedding, I felt incredibly rejected and made it mean that I was a terrible, broken person unworthy of love. Personalizing the rejection made the heartache ten times harder. Luckily, I had a great coach who taught me the importance of not taking it personally. I learned how to be compassionate with myself and ask, “What am I learning from this and how can I love myself while I go through it?” I was able to see that the break-up was an outward manifestation of what I was doing internally to myself: I was withholding my own self-love from myself by being consistently hard on myself. My relationship with me was full of rejection, so no wonder it ended up happening in the main relationship I was in with another person.
Furthermore, I totally understood how hard it was for my ex to be around a person who was not happy with herself. He was not necessarily rejecting me; he was doing the most self-honoring thing for himself and did me a HUGE favor. Granted, at the time it did not necessarily feel that way. Trust in the delayed blessings come with the initial burn of a rejection.
Finally, understand and remind yourself that rejection often has nothing to do with you! People often have their own reasons for why they don’t behave in a way that you would categorize as accepting you or giving you what you want. And certain situations that trigger feelings of rejection are often based on so many external factors that, once again, have zero to do with anything you did or did not do. This is why I say that external rejection is “perceived” rather than being real. The truth is that no one and nothing can truly reject you. The only way to truly be rejected is when you deny yourself of your own love, forgiveness and acceptance. Like I mentioned earlier, we often draw in external events that feel like perceived rejection because our Higher Self is mirroring what we are doing inside ourselves.
You belong. You are loved. You are accepted. You are worthy. You are enough. You are doing the best you can. But don’t just take my words for it; reject any resistance and accept these truths for yourself!
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Christine Hassler is a certifed life and quarterlife coach. To visit her website click here.