No body likes rejection. Everyone feels it to a different extent and deals with it in multiple ways yet no one enjoys the feeling of being pushed away or discarded. It’s more than just psychological – fMRI studies show that the same areas of the brain become activated when we experience rejection as when we experience physical pain. We cannot be sure why that is, but psychologists believe it has a survival component to it, that being rejected by our tribe makes us vulnerable to the extent that our survival is not secured.
Being rejected is destabilizing, it makes us question ourselves – our values and existence. It is damaging for our self esteem and evokes feelings of helplessness and isolation. Not just being rejected by romantic partners, but by friends, job interviewers, even the rejection of your ideas or something you created, it all causes us to evaluate ourselves in a negative way. We often feel ashamed for feeling rejected as well. That being rejected means we are less worthy or less valuable as people – that we are more flawed than we think. We feel we have to be strong, “keep your chin up” or have a “stiff upper lip”. This perpetuates negative feelings. Instead of this minimizing your pain, this will prolong it. It’s ok to be hurt by rejection. It’s ok to feel ashamed. Tell someone you trust about your suffering and it will help you understand that you might have been rejected by a person, but as a person you are not rejected. If you have a hard time treating yourself to compassion, have someone else treat you to it. While that addresses how to mend the rejection after it happens, how do we become resilient towards it before it happens?
One way is to desensitize yourself. Like many things in life, this is one of those things you will have to do until it stops hurting. Jia Jiang did 100 days of rejection therapy. He tried out 100 ways to be rejected on an every day basis. He found out all in all people weren’t really rejecting him, they were rejecting something that made them feel uncomfortable. When he asked a stranger to lend him 100 dollars, and would follow up asking “Why Not”, it was more about the people than it having anything to do with him. It was because they didn’t trust him, or felt uncomfortable – it had more to do with the fact than anything to do with him directly. It’s ok for people to say no. The more you hear it the more comfortable you will get with it. Perhaps you haven’t been rejected that much in your life thus far and that’s why it feels harder when it does occur.
Another way is to learn to love yourself. Endlessly. Rejection will hurt, but that’s their point of view. Work on being in boundless love with yourself. That includes accepting that sometimes you will feel embarrassed. Sometimes you will feel ashamed. And it’s ok to feel both and to admit that to other people. Try being vulnerable and transparent with people you trust but mostly with yourself. Speak to yourself out loud to hear how normal and accepting your thoughts sound.
Work on the fact that while others may reject you, you never reject yourself.