Simply put, rejection sucks. And while we may try to push it away or avoid it, we will constantly get rejected throughout our lives—no matter what we want. I mean, unless you lock yourself in your house and become a hermit.
Similar to other strong emotions, the best thing to do when feeling rejected is to face the feeling head on. But we haven’t been taught how to face strong emotions. So we go the opposite route and ignore the uncomfortable feeling allowing it to gain momentum.
We unintentionally hurt ourselves. It’s making us miserable and keeping us from our true potential.
Which is why we need to face uncomfortable emotions like rejection head on. When we face them directly we take power away from the emotion and give it back to ourselves.
This emotional management is a life skill that will positively impact you in every area of your life for your entire life.
In this article we are going to talk about what rejection is, why it hurts, and how to confidently overcome it with a mindset shift and 3 steps.
Related podcast episode: Ep26: Acceptance, Empowerment & Body Positivity
What is Rejection
The opposite of feeing accepted, rejection occurs when we sense we are being dismissed or turned down. We typically associate it with shame and discomfort.
We can feel rejected in multiple ways, in different situations and on different levels. For example, if we are flat out told “no” by a love interest, or if no one laughs at our joke, or if a friend group doesn’t invite us out or include us in the group chat.
Rejection is a part of life. We can’t always get what we want and people are not always going to do exactly what we want or respond how we would like.
Why Rejection Hurts
Something scientifically proven is that rejection can literally hurt. This is because the part of the brain that processes rejection is closely tied to the part of our brain that processes physical pain.
Scientists theorize that rejection causing literal pain is because of our need to be part of the pack. Being part of the pack was really important for us when we were hunter gathers. In that pack we were more likely to have physical safety than if we wandered alone.
So if someone was rejected from the pack they would feel a pain or discomfort that would encourage them to get back in with the pack and therefore stay physically safe.
Humans are social creatures, and while we need connections to feel fulfilled, we no longer need to be part of the pack like before. Unfortunately, your brain didn’t get the memo so your pain sensor is still triggered even when rejection will not cause physical harm.
Basically, your brain can’t tell the difference between a love interest saying “no thanks” and you being left in the desert alone to fend for yourself.
But this isn’t the only way rejection hurts us.
Rejection Negatively Impacts Us
While rejection literally hurts, fear of rejection can negatively impact every area of your life and keep you from feeling fulfilled. Below are 5 ways a fear of rejection will negatively impact you:
Decreases emotional intelligence. EQ is considered the No. 1 determinant of success, and people with higher EQs are happier and feel more fulfilled. To build EQ it is important to be aware of and effectively manage feelings—even the ones that don’t feel so great, like rejection.
People pleasing tendencies and one-sided relationships. If you fear rejection you’ll likely focus on not being rejected. So instead of determining if someone will add value to your life, you are likely hyper-focused on them liking you. This can lead to people pleasing and relationships that aren’t healthy.
Encourages a lack of abundance. If you fear rejection, rejection is magnified. When something is magnified it keeps you from seeing the larger view. There is a world out there with billions of people and millions of opportunities. Just because something didn’t work out, doesn’t mean something else won’t.
Hinders boundary setting. If you have a fear of rejection, you will most likely be very conscious and sensitive to it. This includes when you reject other people. Since you fear rejection you might not want to reject someone else and that can lead to unestablished boundaries and codependency.
Keep you from opportunities and success. A fear of rejection can stop you in your tracks. You might not ask for that promotion you deserve or the thing that you need because you fear being told no.
Mindset Shift and 3 Steps to Overcome Rejection
Rejection means you tried, and rejection means you asked. So while you aren’t being accepted by one person or company or whatever, you are actually getting closer to the person or company that will accept and appreciate you!
Rejection also builds desire. Think of a time you were dating someone and they had a particular quality you liked. If it didn’t work out, you now know of that quality and have a desire for it which means you will attract it and look out for it.
From rejection we can also learn what we don’t want. I went up to a cute guy at a bar once and did my best to shoot my shot (mind you I’m socially awkward when trying to flirt). He rejected me… hard core. Like, wow, ouchie, that hurt.
After that situation I took great care in turning someone down. It created self-compassion and compassion for others. I also realized that him being so harsh was not what I wanted and it created a desire for kind people which I have been fortunate to find. (Remember, kind people do find kind people!)
Below are three steps to help build resiliency and accept rejection. Coupled with the mindset shift above you’ll be ready to face rejection in a confident and empowered way!
Step 1: Accept It
The first step in emotional management is acceptance. We are encouraged to ignore our emotions and told limiting beliefs like “emotions are weakness” but that’s far from the truth. Emotions are human. You’re human, you have emotions. It doesn’t make you weak. Accept it.
Acknowledging and accepting emotions is strength. If you get rejected and it hurts you can tell yourself, “wow, this hurts. I am disheartened and that’s OK, this too shall pass.”
Not only will you build a resiliency that will reduce emotional intensity so rejection won’t hurt as much. You’ll also strengthen your self-compassion, emotional intelligence and resiliency. Wow, look at you go!!
Remember that acceptance differs from toxic positivity and please be mindful not to invalidate yourself.
Step 2: Be an Explorer
With fear mongering, extremes and other negative influences around us we may have lost our imagination and playfulness. We also may shy away from taking chances because we didn’t manage our emotions and rejection well in the past.
But today is a new day! And if you think of it, you are an explorer and life it to be explored.
See a cute guy/gal and want to ask them out, do it. If they say no, accept it, acknowledge it hurt, and then continue exploring. Take the intensity away from rejection and consider that you are testing the waters. See what fits and try to have fun with life.
Step 3: Think Abundance
We can get stuck in our world and forget there are billions of people and opportunities everywhere. But we need to be open to these people and opportunities to have a fulfilling and enriched life.
When we think in terms of abundance, we reduce the rigidness of the world and we allow it to be a safe place to explore. We can get up and go to the gym or a coffee shop or a walk. We remember there are people and commerce and energy and things going on outside of the rejection even though it may not feel like it.
With abundance we take power away from rejection and we give it back to ourselves. With that power comes fulfillment and mental and emotional well-being.
Related article: 7 Examples of Emotional Reasoning and 11 Ways It’s Keeping You Stuck