When someone you care about deeply rejects you in some way, whether they leave, tell you they don’t love you anymore or somehow decide they don’t want to be around you—that hurts. In fact that is an obscene understatement. Rejection can knock the wind out of you so much so that you don’t know if you’re coming or going. Especially if you feel that the rejection comes out of nowhere as if you were merrily dancing along when you ran face first into the lamppost. I have experienced this many times in my life—rejection of my projects, my ideas and worst of all my heart. I have also rejected others, sometimes cruelly so. No matter which end you’re staring at, it stinks. I’ve also discovered that rejection can be an opportunity to hug your cherished ideals, dreams or your heart (the way you would hug a child who’s just run head first into a lamppost). What better way to recover from rejection than to love yourself more than ever? Here are five ways that soothe the pain of rejection and help me move forward with a stronger belief in myself. My hope is that these suggestions will also bring you relief.
- Get angry.
Don’t deny the feelings that come up. If you’re afraid of your anger or think it’s not nice to get angry you’ll push those emotions down and sooner or later they will pop up-like a soccer ball held under the water. So, just deal with the emotions as they happen-feel them and express them without berating yourself. Punch some pillows, scream in the basement, jump up and down—do whatever it takes to let it move through your system. I’ve learned over the years not to get onto the computer and send angry emails or leave voice messages. That just leads down a path of misery and having to deal with a bunch of unwanted consequences. Express the anger, but leave other people out of it. They are your feelings so deal with them yourself. The key is not to judge the feelings—just feel them. This goes for any feelings that arise.
- Get rest.
Usually after an emotional blow or intense experience you feel very tired. It’s like you’ve just run a marathon that you didn’t know you were in. Take the time to go to bed early. Come home from work and go to bed if you can or at least downgrade all activities to the bare minimum. This is taking care of yourself. This is loving yourself. In the end, this will help you recover and come out stronger and more able to help those around you. Don’t underestimate this point. Your mind, body and spirit need time to recuperate and process the rejection. Take your time until you feel your energy slowly returning.
- Get perspective.
Here’s the chance to turn things around for yourself. Rejection is not personal. The person may be rejecting themselves, rejecting something that they don’t want to deal with, rejecting an experience they’d rather avoid or they simply don’t want to partake. Whatever it is, do you see that it is about them? It’s not wrong or right, it’s their choice. They chose not to accept whatever it was you were offering. That doesn’t mean that what you offered was automatically crap. That somehow you are flawed and unworthy. It means the person didn’t want what you wanted to give them. Period. So, all the pain and stories that we can come up with as to why they rejected it or what they didn’t like, etc. is an elaborate distraction from the facts. You offered something and the person said no. If you can get your brain to that point or tap into your inner awareness that this has nothing to do with you, then you’ve come through the thickest part. Yes, I even mean when we offer “ourselves”—our love. Your love for someone can’t be rejected. In other words, love can’t be destroyed or changed. You love someone and that’s that. The fact that they don’t reciprocate doesn’t diminish your love or make you less than.
- Get back up.
When we react to something that hurts us it may feel like we’ve fallen and don’t feel like getting up. In my world getting up means to remind myself how amazing I am. How much I love being me. Yes, it sounds cheesy, but it’s worked so well for me countless times that I don’t mind when people think I’m a Pollyanna. If you think this is silly just consider how far you’ve come telling yourself how stupid, ridiculous, ugly, fat, irresponsible and unworthy you are. Try the other way—trust me it’s much more fun and helps you get back up. I do funny things like putting heart stickers all over my computer or I say I love you into the mirror in the morning. You’ll be amazed how fast the rejection sting fades into the distance.
- Get compassionate.
The last piece is to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Try to imagine their life and why they might’ve rejected you. If you can spend some time thinking about their situation you will see that it might start to make sense to you. You don’t have to like the decision they made but reaching a deeper understanding of the other person may help. In certain situations you may not have the slightest clue what their motivations were. This may be more challenging but give them the benefit of the doubt that they had a good reason for the choice they made. In the end, all we can do is our best in each moment.