At one point or another, we have all been the recipient of life’s rejections. Unfortunately, we are likely to face more rejection letters as we grow in our fields of expertise. According to one study, rejection increases anger, anxiety, depression, jealousy, and sadness. reduces performance on complex intellectual tasks and can also contribute to aggression and poor impulse control.
In fact, the pain we feel from rejection is part of what’s helped humans survive. Psychologists suspect this hurt is likely a relic of our evolutionary past, something that’s helped humanity survive for millennia.
But don’t worry. It’s not all bad news. Despite the evolutionary physiology and purpose of rejection-pain, I believe it also serves numerous benefits with regard to personal growth and one’s self-image. Don’t believe me?
Benefits of Rejection
- motivates us to do better.
- reminds us that we are human.
- teaches us patience.
- causes us to explore different paths.
- forces us to reevaluate ourselves.
- creates opportunities.
- gives us new ways of looking at things.
- is an opportunity for growth.
Now that we’ve laid out and gone over the benefits of rejection, it might make it easier to handle the next one we will all inevitably face. Here are a few tips that have helped me in overcoming any post-rejection sadness.
Overcoming the Post-Rejection Blues
1. Focus on what you do bring to the table.
Because most rejection won’t leave you doomed to survive alone in the wilderness, the natural rejection reaction — to withdraw and not put ourselves out there again — isn’t an adaptive response. Instead, make efforts to revive self-esteem, focus on our positive qualities, and remember why someone else might appreciate our attributes in a different situation. All of those things build resilience, so you’ll be better prepared to cope going ahead.
2. Ask yourself whether it actually matters, or if you care that much.
Studies show that responses to rejection are often automatic, even when it doesn’t matter. Research shows we tend to feel a similar hurt after getting rejected by people we don’t necessarily care about — or even those we don’t like — as we do after being rejected by people who matter to us. We need to get better at distinguishing whose rejection matters to us (whose we should care about, like that by family or a close friend) versus the inconsequential kind.
3. Remember that, in most cases, rejection isn’t personal.
Sometimes rejection can be personal. But a lot of times, it’s not. You didn’t get the job because someone else had previously known and worked with the team, not because you weren’t good enough. Your friend didn’t “like” your Instagram post because she didn’t see it — or didn’t have a free finger to click that button.
4. Assume the best, rather than the worst.
We need to train ourselves to make allowances rather than assume the worst. Maybe they didn’t text for a second date because they got a job offer out of state, or their ex got back in touch. Perhaps it had nothing to do with not liking you. We often have no idea what’s going on on the other side of the situation. And to be more resilient, we sometimes need to choose the assumption that’s less painful and less hurtful.
5. Get back out there!
Planning something else with friends goes much farther to reinforce you you’re not a loser — and you are part of your tribe. We need to reteach ourselves and those around us to get back out there after rejection (whether it’s applying for other jobs or not taking a dating hiatus). Withdrawing doesn’t help the overall goal.
I hope this article served as a helpful reminder or confidence boost. Please feel free to reach out to me with any thoughts, concerns, or questions.
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