11 Ways to Get Over Rejection

By Sarah Winfrey on 17 October 2014 2 comments

Rejection sucks.

That, my friends, is a cold, hard fact. No matter what realm of life you've lost out on — work, school, relationships, home — not being chosen is hard.

It's easy to let a rejection or two make you feel like, just maybe, there's something wrong with you. Maybe it really is you and not them. (See also: Mend a Broken Heart Without Breaking the Bank)

While getting past a rejection and finding your spirit and energy again can be a difficult process, taking your time to examine the situation and learn from it is one of the best ways to grow. This gives you the opportunity to make some changes to your behavior for next time, and to become more secure in who you are, so that rejection doesn't rock you as hard next time.

Understanding Rejection

Before you can start to get over your rejection, it helps to understand why being rejected sucks so much.

Fear of Rejection Is Hard-Wired

Being an essential and valued part of a group used to be even more important than it is now. Think about it: In ancient societies, it would have been nearly impossible to find food and water and defend yourself all on your own. If your social group left you behind, you would be almost sure to die. Thus, the human brain is wired to fear being alone.

While not getting a job or a date don't have life-and-death significance now, our brains don't know that, and so we end up feeling desperate and lost when we are rejected.

Rejection Leads to Insecurity

Because rejection once meant that our very existence became much less secure, our brains began to associate the experience of being rejected with feeling insecure. Security came from being part of the group, and death — the ultimate insecurity — came from being separated from them.

Since being part of a group is so important to us, we tend to feel worthless when we experience rejection. We feel like there's no way we can possibly survive, and so we begin to think our very existence does not mean much.

Getting Over It

Now that we have a basic understanding of why rejection hurts so much, it's time to start overcoming it.

1. Take Care of Yourself

When you're feeling worthless, it's easy to let self-care go out the window. What's the point, when you feel like you're going to die no matter what you do? But caring for yourself shows that you value who you are, even if other people don't. Start by caring for your body: eat well, sleep enough, and exercise on a regular schedule.

2. Choose Reality

While you may feel like you're going to die, you're not actually going to die. This rejection is one person's opinion of you at one particular moment in time. The person who rejected you might not even know you very well. Choose to believe what is real. This rejection is not an authoritative opinion on who you are or what you are worth. And choose this again and again, whenever you begin to dwell on the rejection.

3. Know That the Pain Will End

Rejection tends to feel like it's never going to end. You may feel like you will hurt forever, until you die or it kills you. The truth, though, is that you will not die. At some point, the pain will end. You will feel better. You will feel like life is worth living again. Just being able to tell yourself that truth can make the difference between getting stuck in your rejection and getting over it.

4. Let Yourself Grieve

When you get rejected, you'll have big feelings. These may feel scary or threatening, or be so unpleasant that you just want to forget all about them. However, you won't get past your rejection if you don't let yourself feel your feelings. You may go through the stages of grief. You may spend a lot of time feeling angry or depressed. Whatever you're feeling, spend some time with these feelings. Give them time to wash over and through you.

5. Share Your Feelings

Spend some time sharing your feelings with people you trust. This can help lessen your feelings of rejection, because you will remember that you are not entirely alone. One person may not have chosen you, but that doesn't mean that there isn't anyone who wants you around. Sharing your feelings can also help you process them and leave them behind, because other people can offer you insights and opinions that you might not have come to on your own.

6. Stop Obsessing

Post-rejection, it's easy to let yourself replay your interactions with the rejector over and over again. You might be looking for something you did wrong, or replaying a place in the conversation where you're pretty sure you made a misstep. Either way, replaying the scene over and over and over again is going to keep you tied to that moment, rather than allowing you to let it go and move on.

7. Counter Critical Thoughts

Most people blame themselves when they get rejected. "If only I wasn't so… " they think, over and over and over again. One way to get out of these self-critical thoughts is to counter them. For instance, after being rejected for a job, someone might think, "If only I had taken that internship last summer instead of traveling." You can counter that thought with, "No, I wouldn't have been happy at that internship, and I learned more traveling than I've ever learned working anywhere." This can help you become more objective about the rejection, realizing that it likely wasn't all your fault.

8. Avoid Getting Stuck

There's a balance between feeling your feelings and processing them and getting stuck in them. If you feel your grief turning into bitterness or an anger or depression that doesn't seem to lift, do whatever you need to do to get out of those feelings. Some people may simply need to choose to risk again. Others may need to talk to a counselor or take medication. All of these are legitimate ways to deal with a rejection that won't go away.

9. Learn the Lesson

There is a lesson in every rejection, and finding it can help you leave the rejection behind and move forward again. You may find your lesson in talking about your rejection, or in journaling about it, or even in thinking about what you would do if you found yourself in the same situation again. The lesson may be something that you want to do differently next time, but it can also be something like accepting that not everyone values the same things you do.

10. Consider Some Changes

Even if you did nothing wrong in the situation where your rejection happened, you may decide to make changes in how you handle similar situations in the future. For instance, you may choose to practice your interview before you go to one next time, or to not participate in online dating.

11. Get Back Out There

In the end, the only way to truly move beyond your rejection is to get back in the game. Apply for another job, meet a new friend, or ask someone else out on a date. You don't have to do this immediately, but it should be on your radar from the beginning. If you're nervous or finding it particularly hard to do this, think about small victories that might help you get your confidence back. You might try a mock interview with someone you know who does hiring, so you can get feedback, or you might take a friend on a date, to get comfortable with that whole scene again.

When have you been rejected? What helped you get over it? Please share in comments!

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Guest's picture
Guest

These articles worry me, I don't usually leave comments but the definitive vocabulary they use coupled with no qualifications is disturbing. Don't advise people in handling rejection especially when the first point sounds a lot like advising about depression. You can do more harm than good by simply being ignorant of more serious illnesses.

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Jody Porter

Rejection goes much deeper than this article tries to gloss over. It is not that easy to get over in some cases. When a mother rejects her child and grandchildren because she is so self absorbed with her own desires and life, this is a life long rejection. It also tends to make you not trust people at the basic human level.