how to get over rejection

How to get over rejection and come back stronger

Rejection will happen to us all at some point. Likely more than once.

It hurts. You might have had your heart broken, missed out on your dream job, or been slighted by a friend. It can be incredibly painful.

Whatever the nature of your rejection, the good news is it doesn’t have to define you for long.

There are ways to get over rejection that will see you come out the other side happier and stronger.

It will mean you will have to embrace the pain for a while, but it will be worth it.

You can take your rejection—and all the angst and hurt that goes with it—and use it to grow and learn lessons that will set you up for a brighter future.

Here’s how.

Science says rejection hurts. Why?

how to get over rejection

To start on your way to overcoming rejection, it can be helpful to understand a little more about what is happening to you and why.

This is where science comes in.

Here are some lessons about why rejection stings, as taught to us by science.

1) Your pain is real

You’re not making it up. The pain you experience during rejection is all too real.

This is because our brains experience rejection as physical pain.

Emotional and physical pain run along the same neural pathways, science has shown. This means that rejection triggers a reaction in the same part of the brain that triggers physical pain.

So when you experience sadness, heartbreak, and yes—rejection, your body experiences physical hurt, too.

2) We’re social animals

We’re hardwired to fear rejection. We’re built to want to be a part of a community.

This goes way back in our evolutionary history. In our hunter-gatherer days, staying in a tribe was crucial to survival. Being alone meant little chances of making it.

Being rejected by others tells us that we don’t belong, and it’s meant to sting.

3) Romance leads to heartache

Ever wondered why breakups hurt so much?

Research suggests that it’s because recovering from a breakup is just like getting over a drug addiction.

While we’re in love, our body produces “love hormones”—and we become addicted to them.

After a breakup, we experience a sudden withdrawal of those happy love hormones, leading to depression and grief.

4) Rejection is the time when we hurt ourselves most

We’re intensely vulnerable after rejection. It’s a time when we need to be kind to ourselves.

Instead, many of us inflict even more pain on ourselves.

We criticize ourselves for what we “did wrong” that led to the rejection, instead of focusing on what lessons we learned.

“The greatest damage rejection causes is usually self-inflicted,” says Guy Winch, a psychologist and public speaker specialising in relationships.

“Indeed, our natural response to being dumped by a dating partner or getting picked last for a team is not just to lick our wounds but to become intensely self-critical.”

We can always learn from rejection and want to do better next time, but we don’t need to be overly self-critical to the point of causing ourselves pain.

How to grow from rejection

Throughout our lives, we will keep experiencing rejection, whether it’s from a college, employer, or relationship.

This is why it’s so important to learn to respond to rejection in a healthy manner—and you can!

The following tips will tell you how.

1) Learn something from it

Rejection can be a good teacher. No matter the type of rejection you experience, chances are you can find something to learn from it.

This can help you turn rejection from a negative and painful experience into a positive opportunity for self-growth.

Some questions you can use to reflect positively on the rejection are “What did I gain from this experience?” and “What could I do better next time?”

You might identify skills of yours that need improvement, or realize that the situation actually taught you an important life lesson.

Whatever you learn, use it to move on with positivity.

2) Adopt a growth mindset

Failing and getting rejected is part of your growth. Trying and failing is part of improving at a skill.

Imagine if you quit every time you get rejected. You would never get anywhere.

Try adopting a growth mindset, which focuses on the effort you made in trying and failing. It’s the effort that counts, not the rejection.

A growth mindset is about taking rejection in stride. It’s about being constructive and focusing on what you can do, instead of what you can’t.

It’s about never quitting, because rejection is a part of life.

Try asking yourself: “What effort did I put into the situation?”, and “What could I do differently next time?”

Remember: rejection and failure are signs that you’re trying.

That’s what really counts.

3) Don’t blame yourself

Blaming yourself for rejection affects your self-esteem, self-image and how you will feel about yourself going forward.

Try thinking about it like this: it wasn’t you, it was them.

To drive this home, try thinking through the situation using what psychologists call “other-oriented blame statements”.

These are statements focused on the other party in the situation, like “He wasn’t ready for a relationship” or “She didn’t get my sense of humor.”

Remember, rejection has nothing to do with you as a person—it’s more about the other person not being the right match.

4) Know that it’s okay to feel

Don’t ignore your feelings. Don’t stamp them down.

It’s okay to feel, and it’s okay to hurt. Acknowledge your own hurt—and try to avoid acting like it doesn’t affect you.

Admitting when you’re embarrassed, sad, or disappointed is part of coping with your emotions in a healthy way—you’re facing them head-on.

It’s hard not to take things personally when you’ve invested time, effort and emotion in something or someone.

So tell yourself that it’s okay. Know that your feelings are valid.

Keeping them shut away will only prolong your emotional pain.

Feel your emotions now, keeping in mind that they will pass.

5) Don’t let it define you

Though it might feel personal right now, the rejection might have been anything but.

Try not to read too much into a rejection. Hundreds might have applied for the job you did. Your friend might have been having a rough day. The person you were interested in might not have been right for you in the end anyway.

Don’t let it define you. You are still the same brilliant person you were before you got rejected, so try to avoid making generalizations based on a rejection. A rejection doesn’t make you unemployable, worthless or unlovable. The things other people might think of you aren’t always true.

Keep doing your thing.

6) Check your perceptions

“Many of us misread social situations and incorrectly perceive deliberate rejection or unfriendliness when it’s not true,” says psychologist Dr. Lynn Margolies.

Take some to reflect again on the situation. Are you sure you weren’t misreading any signs?

If you’re unsure, it might be worth reaching out to someone involved in the situation to speak about it and clear the air.

As Dr. Margolies adds, “Believing we’re being rejected when we’re not can be self-fulfilling and, ironically, actually create the rejection we fear.”

“For example, withdrawing can make you more invisible to others — making it more likely that you will be left out. And being unfriendly in response to perceived rejection can make other people feel rejected and then they may, in fact, reject you.”

7) Observe your reactions

How do you react to rejection? Do you know?

If not, it’s worth trying to take a step back and be aware next time you find yourself experiencing rejection. In doing so, you’ll learn a lot of significant things about yourself.

As psychologist Dr. Margolies explains: “The first step in learning to read interpersonal situations is noticing that we’re having a strong reaction and stepping back from it. This separates us from our reactions so we can observe ourselves rather than let our feelings and repetitive internal dialogues take over.”

When confronted with rejection, do you lash out? Become confrontational? Withdraw?

Taking a step back and thinking through your reactions can also help you to avoid making damaging decisions while you’re hurting, like lashing out at others or being overly critical of yourself.

8) Love yourself

How would you treat a friend going through a rejection?

Hopefully, you would treat them with kindness and compassion—which is how you should treat yourself during a rejection.

Beating yourself up only serves to keep you down. It’s also wasting precious time you could be using to move on and become stronger.

Don’t indulge the negative self-talk. Try kinder, affirming messaging instead.

Instead of thinking “I wasn’t good enough,” try “I made the effort, and that made me stronger.”

Speak to yourself like you would speak to your friends. You’ll thank yourself for it in the long run.

9) Develop your self-esteem

You won’t ever be completely invincible to rejection, but you can become better at reacting to it.

Over time, you can learn to recover from it quicker and better.

One way to do that is to work on yourself and build up your self-esteem, so you won’t be thrown off as much by rejection.

Focus on your growth and progress. You’ll find you won’t even have the time and inclination to pay attention to what everyone else thinks.

Start with getting rid of your critical self and practice a kinder self language. Compliment yourself when you do something right. Take and celebrate even the smallest wins.

Look ahead instead of comparing yourself to everyone around you. Develop your self-esteem until you’re strong enough to see rejection as a step forward in your journey instead of a step back.

10) Talk it out

Keeping your pain to yourself never ends well, and will likely make it worse. It can also be incredibly lonely.

When we keep our rejection to ourselves, the problem can come to seem bigger than it actually is.

Being vulnerable with someone can be frightening and embarrassing. You might be reluctant to share your problems, even when you know it will help, due to feelings of shame.

And when we experience rejection, we experience a lot of shame.

This is why it’s useful to let it out. And this is where trusted friends come in handy.

Try to find someone you are completely comfortable with—a good friend or a loved one—and ask if you can tell them about the situation. Choose someone you feel safe with, and someone who you know will understand you and comfort you.

The last thing you need is more hurt and rejection while you are still hurting.

Talking and getting a second opinion will help you to put everything in perspective, too.

11) Choose gratitude

It might feel impossible to be grateful while you’re experiencing the sting of rejection.

But think long enough, and you’ll find something, no matter how small, to be grateful for.

Find something in your day you are grateful for. It could be as simple as a cup of coffee, or getting out for a run.

Try to focus on the parts in your life where you’re succeeding, rather than stuck on the rejection.

Rejection doesn’t mean your whole life is a mess.

When I got rejected from a dream job, I was sad. I questioned my abilities. But in the end, I realized it was meant to teach me how to be better, how to try harder.

Be grateful for the opportunity each rejection brings you. Hopefully it taught you valuable lessons about yourself.

Sooner or later, you’ll realize that everything in life happens for a reason.

12) Practice empathy

You won’t always feel like the bigger person when someone is rejecting you. Of course, you’ll take it personally. Humans are proud beings.

But the thing is, it’s not always about you.

Try thinking about how the other person involved in the situation might feel. Do you think they really wanted to hurt you? Were there any other factors at play?

For example, if you weren’t asked back on a second date, it might not even be about something you think you did. It might just be because the other person has insecurities, is busy, or a hundred other reasons.

You can’t control how other people treat you, but you can control how you treat others.

Would you rather react in a small and resentful way, or be empathetic and kind to others?

When you’re feeling hurt, take a moment to think about who you want to be. Practice empathy. You’ll have more clarity and peace of mind that way.

13) Surround yourself with good people

Having a great support system in place will help you bounce back from rejection faster.

Lean on your loved ones when you need them. Let them remind you that life is okay.Hopefully they’ll make you laugh, and help you to see the positives in life.

Humans are social beings—we crave being valued and cared for by those we love.

Surround yourself with people who empower you and make you feel good. You might be feeling a little rough and vulnerable right now, so be careful to hang out with people who you know will care for you.

If you surround yourself with negative and critical people, the pain of rejection will only be magnified.

Fun Fact: When someone touches you comfortingly, like in a hug, our cingulate cortex—the part of the brain that registers emotional and physical pain—releases opioids, as our body’s way of easing the pain. In short, physical comfort from someone can help you feel better after social rejection.

14) Keep going forward

… even if it’s just one step at a time.

And don’t ever let rejection stop you trying.

Science suggests that when we’ve experienced many rejections in our lives, we tend to stop trying and taking risks.

This is due to a phenomenon psychologists call “learned helplessness,” where social rejection causes a “disruption of goal-directed behavior.” This means we react by becoming demotivated to pursue our initial goals.

It’s a natural reaction. Our motivation is easily influenced by social validation.

We don’t like going to school when we get bullied. We don’t like going to work if we feel left out by our colleagues. We post on social media to gain approval from our friends.

It’s instinctual, but this doesn’t mean it can’t be overcome.

You can develop habits to help you process rejection in healthier, more helpful ways.

Aim to move through rejection in a healthy and productive manner. Take what you can learn from it, then keep going forward.

Don’t let the rejection get you stuck. Let it teach you and help you to move forward as a stronger person.

Life never stops—you don’t have the luxury of stopping time or rewinding it back. You can only keep moving forward.

The pain of rejection may be real, but you can come out the other side happier, stronger and better equipped to pursue your dreams.

How to not let rejection get the best of you

how to get over rejection

1) Don’t ignore it

Don’t stamp it down.

The first mistake you can make is acting like it doesn’t affect you.

I’m not saying you should break down and wallow in pain for 3 months.

I’m saying that you should acknowledge that it hurts. You certainly have the right to feel sad about missing the promotion you’ve worked hard for or being rejected by a romantic interest.

It’s hard not to take things personally when you’ve invested time, effort and emotion in something.

So tell yourself that it’s okay. Your feelings are valid.

Keeping them locked down will only result in festering emotional pain.

2) Make sure you’re not making it up

Here’s what you may not know:

You’re probably not getting as much rejection as you think.

Most of the time, it’s just us. Meaning, we make it up even when that’s not the case.

According to psychologist Dr. Lynn Margolies: “Many of us misread social situations and incorrectly perceive deliberate rejection or unfriendliness when it’s not true.”

While that may not be harmless on its own, it can actually cause things to happen the way you imagined it to be.

Dr. Margolies adds: “Believing we’re being rejected when we’re not can be self-fulfilling and, ironically, actually create the rejection we fear. For example, withdrawing can make you more invisible to others — making it more likely that you will be left out. And being unfriendly in response to perceived rejection can make other people feel rejected and then they may, in fact, reject you.”

Make sure you’re not misreading signs. If it’s not blatantly reiterated, then you might just be imagining it.

3) Observe your reactions

how to get over rejection

Do you take the time to observe how you react to situations of rejection?

Try it. You’ll find it tells you a lot of significant things about yourself.

Dr. Margolies explains: “The first step in learning to read interpersonal situations is noticing that we’re having a strong reaction and stepping back from it. This separates us from our reactions so we can observe ourselves rather than let our feelings and repetitive internal dialogues take over.”

This method won’t only help you alleviate rejection, it also helps you understand why you’re so quick to react the way you do.

Why do you lash out? Perhaps you become confronting. Or maybe you go back into your shell.

Either way, it’s best to remember that your reactions don’t define you.

4) Adopt a growth mindset

A growth mindset is about not setting limitations for yourself. It’s about taking rejection in stride.

It’s about being constructive and focusing on what you can do better, instead of what you can’t do.

Rejection gets the best of people because they focus on the negative. They take rejection as a sign to quit.

But rejection is a part of life. If you quit every time you get rejected, you’ll never get anywhere.

Instead, ask yourself 2 things:

  1. What do I learn from this?
  2. What can I do differently next time?

You might not control what life gives you, but you can control what you take from it.

5) Stick to the facts

Rejection has a way of making us focus on the negative. But sometimes it’s worse: we become so self-critical that we start exaggerating our mistakes or weaknesses.

It’s possible you may even commit more mistakes.

That’s because rejection can lower your IQ by as much as 30%. A study shows that when rejected, people’s IQ scores decrease by approximately 25% while their analytical reasoning can lower up to 30%. Aggression, meanwhile, increases.

This is probably why it is so hard to reason our anger and frustration when we feel excluded from something.

In these instances, don’t let doubt create a worse picture of who you really are. Stick to the facts.

6) Develop your self-esteem

how to get over rejection

You won’t be completely invincible to rejection, but you can be better at reacting to it. You can recover from it quicker and better.

One way to do that is to work on yourself. Focus on your growth and progress that you won’t even have the time and inclination to pay attention to what everyone else thinks.

Start with getting rid of your critical self and practice a kinder self language. Compliment yourself when you do something right. Take and celebrate even the smallest wins.

Look ahead instead of comparing yourself to everyone around you. These are ways you can develop your self-esteem until you see rejection as a step forward instead of a step back.

7) Vent

Keeping your pain to yourself never results in anything good.

When we keep our rejection to ourselves, it can seem bigger than it actually is. Which is why it’s useful to let it out.

It takes a lot to be vulnerable with someone. What stops us from sharing our problems (even when we know it will help) is our feelings of shame.

When we experience rejection, we experience a lot of shame.

You just have to find someone you are completely comfortable with—a good friend or a loved one. Someone you feel safe with, someone who will understand you and comfort you.

Doing so will not only feel good, but it will put everything in perspective, too.

8) Be grateful

It’s difficult to be grateful when you’re experiencing the sting of rejection. The first impulse is to lash out and be angry at everything.

Still, it’s important to realize that rejection doesn’t mean your whole life is a mess.

Don’t get stuck on the one thing you did wrong. Instead, try to focus on the parts in your life where you’re succeeding, even the little things like.

When I got rejected from a dream job, I was sad. I questioned my abilities. But in the end, I realized it was meant to teach me how to be better, how to try harder.

For every rejection, be grateful for the opportunity. It taught you valuable lessons about yourself. Sooner or later, you’ll realize that everything in life happens for a reason.

Just say: Thank you, next!”

9) Practice empathy

how to get over rejection

You won’t always feel like the bigger person when someone is rejecting you. Of course, you’ll take it personally. Humans are proud beings.

But the thing is, it’s not always about you.

In social situations, for example, there’s another person involved. If you’ve gotten rejected for a second date, it might not even be because of something you did.

Sometimes, it’s about the other person too. It may be because of their insecurities and not yours.

How other people treat you say more about them than about you.

It can help if you don’t blame everything on yourself. Take responsibility for your shortcomings, but also practice empathy. You’ll have more clarity and peace of mind that way.

10) Surround yourself with good people

There’s nothing more life-changing than surrounding yourself with people who empower you and make you feel good.

Ideally, we shouldn’t get validation from other people. But humans are social beings and we crave being valued and cared for by those we love.

Having a great support system will not only help you bounce back from rejection faster, but they also remind you that life is still and will always be good.

On the other hand, if you surround yourself with negative and critical people, the pain of rejection will only be magnified.

Fun Fact:

When someone touches you comfortingly, like in a hug, our cingulate cortex—the part of the brain that registers emotional and physical pain—releases opioids, as our body’s way of easing the pain. In short, physical comforting from someone can help you feel better after social rejection.

11) Keep going forward

how to get over rejection

… even if it’s just one step at a time.

When we’ve experienced enough rejections in our lives, we tend to stop trying and taking risks.

Why is that?

Psychologists call it “learned helplessness.” According to researchers, social rejection causes a “disruption of goal-directed behavior.” This means we react by becoming demotivated to pursue our initial goals.

That reaction is natural. Social validation is extremely influential in our motivations.

We don’t like going to school when we get bullied. We don’t like going to work if we feel left out by our colleagues. We post so much on social media to gain approval from our friends.

But just because it’s instinctual doesn’t mean it can’t be overcome. You need to develop habits that help you process rejection better.

Go at it in a healthy and productive manner. Take what you can learn from it, and then keep going forward.

Don’t let the rejection get you stuck far longer than necessary. If there’s anything we learn from life, it’s that life never stops for us.

You don’t have the luxury of stopping time or rewinding it back. You can only move forward. Being rejected isn’t a valid enough reason to miss amazing opportunities.

The pain may be real, but it shouldn’t stop you from trying to pursue your dreams.

Be the first to comment on this article at Ideapod Discussions

Genefe Navilon

Genefe Navilon

Genefe Navilon is a writer, poet, and blogger. She graduated with a degree in Mass Communications at the University of San Jose Recoletos. Her poetry blog, Letters To The Sea, currently has 18,000 followers. Her work has been published in different websites and poetry book anthologies. She divides her time between traveling, writing, and working on her debut poetry book.

FREE VIDEO BY IDEAPOD

RECOMMENDED ARTICLES

Back to Top

Tired of "fitting in"?

Don't live a normal life. Discover the real you.

Join our email newsletter. Unsubscribe anytime.