How to Deal with Rejection on Your Terms

Lonely tree

We’ve all experienced rejection in one form or another. As long as we’re living and breathing, rejection is unavoidable. Even if we live in isolation, we can still experience rejection.

Rejection is relational. We may reject ourselves, part of ourselves, or certain emotions and actions. We may also reject situations, or other people.

But the most common ego crushing rejection is usually experienced when others reject us. This is the main focus of the article—how to view and handle being rejected.

Rejection varies in intensity from a slight disappointment (being ignored on Facebook, or not being invited to a social gathering) to a major life altering situation (losing a job, ending a marriage, or losing a friend).

No matter how major or minor a rejection is there’s always an underlying feeling that we’ve failed, or we’re not good enough.

On the surface, rejection is passive—we experience it as a result of someone else’s decision, not our own.

Your employer deciding to lay you off is not your choice. A spouse wanting a divorce is not your choice. A friends stops taking your calls isn’t your choice.

Sometimes it’s foreseeable, and other times it comes out of nowhere and catches us by surprise. Even if we see it coming, I doubt we’ll ever be prepared for it, till it hits us and shakes our sense of value.

No one likes to feel that they’re unwanted, or not valuable based on other people’s actions.

It’s fairly easy to fall into a victim mentality after rejection and feel that we have no choice.

While someone else rejects you, how you handle it, and what to do after, is your choice.

This is not about being optimistic or positive. It’s about being practical and focusing on how we can deal with the situation in a way that serves us better than passive victimhood.

Let’s look at the hidden gift of rejection (or any other challenge for that matter).

An opportunity

The end of anything creates space for something new to emerge. The space may not be welcomed, or comfortable. But it’s there.

In the space created by rejection, we can make choices that help us move past the pain, instead of feeling stuck in an undesired situation.

The opportunity is a fresh start. It can be overwhelming, but it’s also freeing.

The three areas below are where the opportunity lies.


When we get rejected, we’ll react to the situation. How we react is a choice.

We can beg and plead for the rejector to change his/her mind. We can feel hurt and angry and lash out; violence is always a choice (physical or verbal).

Or, we can simply get quiet and feel the pain on our own, without involving the other party.

These are just a few examples of how we can possibly react.

Our reaction reveals hidden feelings and beliefs that we can examine to see how we view ourselves. This can be an opportunity for self-examination and reflection.

With every rejection and reaction we experience, we become more familiar with the feelings, and become better equipped at handling them.

Moving forward

It might be hard in the beginning to think about moving forward when you still feel the sting of rejection. But after a while, you can start thinking about what to do next to fill the void rejection has created.

Or, you can feel the void and allow life to guide whatever comes up.

You can look for another job, or think about doing something completely different. When it comes to relationships, you can explore new prospects, or try to be on your own for a while and see how it feels.

Sometimes life opens up wonderful doors beyond anything we’ve experienced before. We just need to be receptive and willing to try.

Letting go

Holding on to the pain of any experience is a choice.

At any moment, after enough time has passed to mourn the loss of what was, we can make a conscious choice to let go.

Letting go is not about blocking or denying the painful memory. It’s about releasing ourselves from the reactive feelings to pain that have never been helpful.

When we fully let go, we won’t need to forget or forgive. We release the attachment to pain, and the experience becomes like a movie we watched once. It doesn’t define us or determine our value.

Rejection can be an opportunity for change. It might be passive, but our response to it is an active choice.

There is always a choice, even if among limited or undesirable options. How we react, what we do after, and when we decide to let go are all within our abilities.

Once we realize the choice is ours, we’re no longer poor victims to someone else’s rejection. The question is: do we choose what nourishes our lives, or what keeps us stuck in pain and reaction?

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