We’ve all been rejected at some point in our lives.
If you haven’t, that might be a sign that you haven’t challenged yourself enough or taken enough risks.
Regardless, no one likes to be rejected. It hurts.
But at the same time, rejection can be a powerful asset in our personal growth.
Let me run you through the logic: if rejection proves we’re challenging ourselves, and challenging ourselves is key to making progress, then learning how to deal with rejection fast-tracks our self-evolution.
So today, we’re going to learn how to handle rejection the right way so that we can turbocharge our personal growth.
Let’s get into it.
A key component of handling rejection is adopting the right attitude.
According to Nicholas Boothman, author of "How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less” he says that there are three things we can do with rejection.
- We can dismiss it entirely
- We can let it destroy our self-confidence and self-worth
- We can welcome it
Hmm…which option will lead to increased mental fortitude?
If you guessed “C”, you’d be correct.
So how can we welcome rejection in our social interactions with people and build our mental fortitude in the process?
We have to remember to not take things personally. Most of the time, when we’re rejected, it doesn’t have to do with our personal identity. It has more to do with a mismatch of skills or interests.
Because of this, you can think of rejection as the universe’s way of helping us dodge a bullet, Matrix style. It serves as a filter for your experiences, preventing you from ending up in a situation where you might not have been happy anyhow.
With that in mind, it’s ok to feel a little, or a lot, of disappointment if you were really hoping to get into that school or land that job or be in that relationship with that person.
Let yourself experience that emotion. But then remind yourself that life has something better planned for you.
When we go in with that attitude, we’ll make lemonade out of lemons.
Now that we’ve established the concept, let’s see what the experts have to say on the matter.
Selection not Rejection
For Boothman, rejection is simply a selection process.
Waiting to be rejected is a passive activity.
But if you change your mindset and see rejection instead as selection, you move from being a passive player to an active one.
And by choosing who we engage with and how we interact (when, where, why), we empower ourselves. We’re in charge of our communication, social interactions, and what we do with the time we have.
So if you don’t click with someone, even after trying to build rapport with them, that's not your fault. You’ve run a selection assessment, and that relationship is not a fit. Time to move on.
Treat it Like a Game
The other way to deal with rejection is by transforming it into a game.
This is an idea that Jia Jiang, founder of Rejection Therapy, expands on in his book: “Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection.”
By reframing a socially frustrating or social-anxiety-laden situation into a playful context, you discover some levity in it. The playful nature alleviates the social anxiety associated with rejection and reduces stress. Both good things.
Clinical psychologist Rod Martin explains that, by finding levity in tense situations, you can reconfigure your thoughts about what was previously viewed as a stressor. If we perceive something as funny, then we’re looking at it from a fresh perspective. It changes our way of thinking by releasing us from the shackles of rigid thinking.
So the next time you get a “no” from someone, you can think of it like losing a round of Monopoly or Fortnite. Frustrating, but not heartbreaking. It was fun while it lasted and there’s always next time.
But again, rejection is part of life and we need to deal with it.
So now that we’ve covered some ways to soften the blow of rejection, let’s take a look at some ways of handling it with courage and confidence.
Surround Yourself with People who Love You
When we’re rejected from something or someone, it’s really nice to know that we can take comfort in people who love us.
This can be family, people we’ve adopted as family, or our close friends.
Engaging with them in-person is best, with lots of hugs and knowing smiles. But if that’s not an option, a heartfelt video chat or voice call will do the trick.
If you don’t have anyone on tap in the moment, not to worry. You can hug a teddy bear instead. I’m serious, there is research that supports this. (pop up on screen post prod: “Touching a Teddy Bear Mitigates Negative Effects of Social Exclusion to Increase Prosocial Behavior” from Social Psychological and Personality Science).
You can also look at a photograph of a loved one. Studies show that photos of the people we love reduce emotional or physical pain (source: “A Picture’s Worth, Partner Photographs Reduce Experimentally Induced Pain” from Psychological Science).
So when rejection strikes, grab a warm beverage and seek out your preferred source of comfort. All the endorphins that are released doing this will make you feel instantly better.
Turn to Your Social Surrogate
Social Surrogates are symbolic social connections that transpire in our minds. They are bonds we form with our favorite TV and movie characters, book characters, or YouTube role models.
These are both fictional characters and real people who inspire and empower us.
I call on these social surrogates all the time when I need a mental boost. I think, what would Xena Warrior Princess tell me? How would Wonder Woman handle it? Or what kind of joke would Starbuck crack in this moment?
In research conducted by Gabriel, Valenti and Young (2016) they found that “facsimiles of social interactions presented in many leisure activities may actually be satisfying the fulfillment of belongingness needs.”
That’s huge because when we’re rejected by one person or ostracized by one group, we still belong to another. And the sense of belonging is a powerful feeling to draw from especially in times when we feel a bit down.
Now, if you don’t have a social surrogate at the moment, a great place to start is YouTube.
With all the diverse content on YouTube, with a bit of searching, you are sure to find channels and individuals who appreciate the same things as you and espouse core values that resonate with you. And the beauty of YouTube is that you even have an opportunity to interact with those people in the comments and live chats.
Okay, so there you have four powerful strategies for handling rejection.
Let’s quickly recap.
- Rejection is just a selection. You have the power to select who you hang out with and what communities you want to take part in.
- Turn rejection into a game. A “no” is ok. It’s not the end of the world. Find some levity and humor in the situation and laugh about it.
- Remind yourself you’re loved. You are not alone in this world and you matter. Don’t forget that.
- Connect with your social surrogate and tap their strength to empower yourself.
So as you can see, by following these steps we change our treatment of rejection. We can view it as a blessing in disguise - a hug from the universe or a little nudge in the right direction.
Look at it this way: you wouldn’t want to have pursued that person or career if it left you miserable and feeling out of place.
And rejection is not a failure on your part. Don’t take it personally. It’s not going to turn you into a social pariah. If you’ve revealed your authentic self and put all your cards on the table, and there’s still no magic, then it just wasn’t made to be.
Instead, rejection is a way of demonstrating to ourselves that we’ve taken a risk. We got out of our comfort zone.
Accept the temporary feelings of frustration and then remind yourself that this is what makes us stronger and a more evolved version of ourselves. It is what gives us the mental fortitude to create meaningful social connections in our lives.
So now that I've shared our thoughts, I’d love to hear how you deal with rejection. What works for you? What challenges have you encountered? How have you been rewarded for your efforts?
Share that with me and the Explearning community in the comments down below.
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With that, have an awesome week, Explearners.
Thank you so much for joining me and I’ll see you next time for your next Explearning lesson.
Happy Explearning ⚡