Rejection is painful. Like hot coffee scalding my tongue but instead of my tongue it’s my heart and instead of coffee, it’s a sip of crushing disappointment.
Getting dumped (been there) or being passed up for a dream job (done that) is the type of rejection that can have some lasting effects. It gets in your head and messes with your mental well-being. Rejection can keep you up at night, binge eating cheese puffs (or whatever you like as much as I like cheese puffs). It’s especially hard when you didn’t see it coming but even the best of us have felt the burn.
Everyone from Andy Warhol to Oprah Winfrey and even Michael Jordan have experienced rejection. It’s part of the human condition and it takes some time and effort but you have to recover as best you can:
- Take an aspirin. While testing whether rejection mimics physical pain, researchers gave participants Tylenol before asking them to recall a painful rejection experience. Those who received Tylenol reported less emotional pain than subjects who took a sugar pill.
- Let it burn. Rejection hurts, it’s normal to want to just push it aside. Don’t. Face it, accept it and be brave. You don’t have to live in the moment forever but you should take whatever responsibility is yours and move on.
- Don’t take it personally. There are a lot of external factors to consider when it comes to rejection, like being in the right place at the wrong time. The truth is, while rejection does have something to do with you, it isn’t solely about you.
- Be kind to yourself. Create an inner voice that sounds like a dear friend and not a drill sergeant. Be gentle and patient with yourself, this is a difficult time.
- Stay confident. Despite the pain and humility that follows rejection, hold on to your self-confidence. My first reaction is always to crawl into the nearest cave and die a loser death. I definitely lost but I still played and that makes me a player not a loser.
- Stop caring what they think. Sometimes it matters what people think but mostly it doesn’t. Sometimes you just have to say “fuck it!” and walk away. It’s not your business what others think of you anyway.
- Don’t self medicate. Drinking, drugs, and all around debauchery may sound like a good idea at first but rejection hangovers can be devastating. Don’t let a few nights out become habit, check yourself.
- Find closure. Rejection is loss and all loss comes with a certain amount of grief. How you move through the stages of grief is up to you. Some people listen to sad songs, some burn pictures, while others write letters they’ll never send. Find your ritual.
- Refocus your energy. Grieving is allowed, obsessing over a situation you can’t change is not. Don’t get caught up, start a new fitness routine, join a book club, take up a new hobby, retreat into something positive.
- Spend time with people who love you. Throw yourself a pity party and invite people you love the most. They will make you laugh, let you cry, and remind you how great you are and that’s exactly what you need.
If you’ve ever had to recover from rejection give yourself a hug. It’s a process and it sucks. I don’t care how tough you are, everyone wants to be accepted. Everything stems from self-love and when you love yourself enough, it takes the sting out of it but rejection can do some damage to self-love. It has a way of keeping us self-absorbed.
Don’t waste too much time wondering what went wrong. Get out of your head as quickly as you can. Travel, if you’re in a position to do so or volunteer. Spend time being selfless and your own problems tend to fade away. How do you recover from rejection?