What might sting a bit more than when our plans fail is when our plans fail in a situation coupled with our rejection. This can happen in a variety of ways in different areas of life – being turned down for a date out of hand, being rejected by a loved one through divorce or a breakup, being fired from your job, failing a job interview, or not getting into a school or program you’ve worked hard to get into. In these scenarios, in addition to dealing with a plan gone awry, you must deal with the complicated feelings that come with being rejected.
How to Deal with Rejection: 6 Practical Tips
Wondering how to deal with rejection? Some ways of addressing rejection aren’t helpful, such as negative self-talk. These can trap you in a negative spiral of emotions that stunt your growth and willingness to try new things. You can productively address rejection by trying the following.
1. Own it
When rejection happens, it’s painful. It can land as a repudiation of who you are as a person, which is a hard pill to swallow. No one wants to feel like they can’t cut it, or that they aren’t adequate. Those feelings are real, and you should acknowledge what you feel. Owning your feelings and the reality of what just happened goes a long way toward starting the healing process.
2. Process your emotionsAcknowledging your feelings is one thing, and it’s quite another to begin working through them. You may feel hurt, angry, and a whole host of other emotions. You may need to take time to calm yourself down so you can deal with how you feel. Find healthy ways to calm down, like working out, meditating, or listening to soothing music.
When you’re calm, pay attention to your thoughts and how you feel. If you journal, take time to journal your thoughts and feelings. Just cataloging your feelings goes a long way toward helping you to get a handle on things and cope with them.
3. Remember who you are
The feelings unleashed by rejection tend to undermine our sense of self-worth. Being rejected can make it seem as though something is lacking in us, and that somehow, we are missing something that implies we aren’t worthy. It’s important in such circumstances for us to remember who we are. Scripture reminds us repeatedly that we are valuable.
So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:27
When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place— what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor. – Psalm 8:3-5
For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16
This is to say nothing of Psalm 139 and many other passages of Scripture that remind us of our innate value as beings made in God’s image. The upshot of all these passages is to remind you that your worth and dignity aren’t tied to your rejection.
You are not less valuable than anyone else, and your rejection doesn’t take anything away from you. Speaking these truths to yourself is part of self-care, which is important. It is also a way to reject negative self-talk that only serves to undermine the reality that you are precious in God’s sight.
4. Realize it’s not the endAs one continues to wrestle with rejection, it’s important to continue having perspective on the situation. Any rejection or failure tends to feel like a catastrophic ending to your story. The adage “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” resonates here. It’s possible to recover from rejection and emerge on the other side of it stronger than ever.
Similarly, rejection can end your story here and now, but only if you let it. Reflect on the fact that you’re still standing after the rejection. You can rebuild, even though you may not know how at this exact moment.
Instead of seeing rejection as the end, it’s more helpful and closer to consider that rejection provides you with an opportunity to reevaluate and reconsider things. Do it. Go back to the drawing board, learn that new skill, change up your approach. There’s a learning opportunity here that you shouldn’t pass up.
5. Keep looking forward
Rejection has the potential to stop you in your tracks – to make you feel like the future is closed off and no similar opportunities will arise in the future. This is especially the case if you were pinning your hopes on that job, position, or relationship. You put all your chips on it and things fell through in the worst way.
But the truth is that other opportunities do come up, and sometimes in very surprising ways. One thing that comes through clearly in most success stories – be it in business, art, or science – is how much rejection and failure people had to work through before gaining success. Obstacles come up in life – it’s up to you how you deal with the setbacks.
For the believer, it’s also important for us to trust the Lord and his timing for provision. We are reminded, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28).
This verse primarily about our salvation, however, it also has a secondary application to everything that happens to us. Things may have gone pear-shaped and fallen apart. But God turns even impossible situations upside down for the good of His children.
He takes the broken things and mends them, and he brings life even amid desolation. This opportunity may have ended in the worst way possible, but God is still God. We look ahead and continue to trust that God is sovereign. Though we may walk in desolate valleys and through many hardships, God is with us and will bring us where we need to be.
6. Face your fears and try again
If taken to heart, rejection can sap your strength and take away your ability to face your fears. Many people, having been rejected by a loved one, a group of friends, co-workers, or in a career field, will lose heart and decide to walk away for good. They refuse to open themselves up to love and hope because they are living trapped in fear.
Afraid that they will face another rejection and disappointment, they curl up inside themselves and refuse to have try again. Living in fear severely stunts us, and that is not the life God intends for us. Instead of living dominated by fear, the way to deal with rejection is to take the time you need to heal, reset, and then face your fears and try again. Give love another try. Go for another job interview. Put yourself out there and take new opportunities as they present themselves.
Rejection doesn’t have to be the end of your story. If you work through it and the emotions it brings up, you can emerge stronger on the other side of the rejection. Rejection need not define you because who you are is something that can’t be diminished or enhanced by either rejection or success. Hold firmly to and trust in the Lord, what He says about you, and His plans for your life.
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