Pamela D. Garcy Ph.D.

Fearless You

Gracefully Reframing Rejection

These 9 eye-opening benefits of rejection may help you gain perspective.

Posted May 26, 2019

 Photo by Nik Shuliahin, Kyiv city, Ukraine, Unsplash free photos
When you've experienced a rejection, it's important to remember that possibilities lie beyond the pain.
Source: Photo by Nik Shuliahin, Kyiv city, Ukraine, Unsplash free photos

If you've ever experienced an interpersonal rejection, you know the devastating pain that renders you a crying, couch-laying, ceiling-staring mental editor of all the things you could've done differently.

In such moments, it's completely normal to focus upon mentally correcting the past. The extreme pain and sorrow you feel will require your attention; you cannot expect to immediately "cheer up."  Unfortunately, as your self-compassion waivers, you could find yourself in a bath of self-criticism, instead of on a journey to gracefully reframe the rejection.

To conquer such reactive lows, breathe, settle, and gently allow your focus to turn to your more creative choices. Reclaim your power over your happiness, rather than putting it into the hands of another person. You already know that you cannot control another person's choices or opinions, so it's time to look in the mirror and practice being the friend you wanted.

By peacefully detaching yourself from focusing on the rejection, you'll begin to use this life challenge to help you grow. 

Emotional pain, though typically unwelcome, serves as a wake-up call, motivating you to take steps in directions you might've once postponed.

Below are 9 eye-opening benefits of getting rejected, which might help you gain perspective and grow:

1. You can learn to remember your own strengths and good qualities, leading to a better self-relationship. Can you make a list of your good qualities to review? It might be hard during such times, but Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) emphasizes the role of unconditional self-acceptance in our happiness. We are all fallible, according to REBT, and it is important to accept ourselves anyway. In addition, Positive Psychology encourages you to adopt a positive stance toward yourself and notice the good through appreciation work. Directing your attention to that which you appreciate about yourself, with time and repetition, could lead to a better self-relationship.

2. You can return to your self-care routine, leading you to experience improved mental and physical health. Going to sleep early, drinking plenty of water, finding spaces to play and relax, exercising, working through tasks that need completion, and generally relaxing will help you to feel better.  

3. You can practice creativity in other life areas, leading you to remember your own resilience and other passionate pursuits. Can you reconnect with those who love and appreciate you? Can you practice self-appreciation? Can you involve yourself in a creative project? Can you take a class so as to create new awareness, and possibly meet new people?

4. You can develop clarity through remembering the boundaries of the situation; let yourself off the hook a little! Each person has the right to choose for themselves. You're responsible for your behavior, taking care of your self-talk, and helping yourself to feel better. This responsibility doesn't rest in the hands of another, and by the same token the responsibility for another's decision doesn't rest in your hands.  

5. You can improve your social skills, leading you to have greater social-awareness and grace. Practice listening, taking your time in conversations, asking questions, and optimizing nonverbal responses. Become aware of whether you are dominating conversations, not sharing enough, or have created balance. Learn to clarify when you're not understanding the other person. Be willing to tolerate the discomfort of disagreement. Become someone who adds to and enriches the lives of others, remembering that each conversation has the potential to inspire, heal, and uplift another. Remaining open to that possibility may lead to greater social confidence.  

6. You can learn to be happy despite rejection, teaching yourself that your emotional well-being rests in your hands. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) teaches you to use reattribution, seeking alternative explanations for your interpretation, especially when you're personalizing a rejection: What might be other reasons you are experiencing the rejection at this time, apart from what you've already decided? Is it possible that it isn't personal? What might be some examples of how it isn't personal? Taking another powerful angle, REBT teaches clients to retain their preferences while challenging their demand-based thinking, disputing rules that contain words like "should," "must," "ought to," "have to," and "need to." One such question: Where is it written that you must not experience rejection, even though you deeply prefer not to get rejected?  

7. You can learn to see this as an opening instead of an ending. Sometimes when we stop going in one direction, we start going in a new and improved direction. Ask yourself: When else in life has a disappointing outcome led me to enjoy something better down the road?

8. You can release your need to prove yourself and/or be right. There's no need to prove anything to anyone; search instead for fulfillment, connection, and enjoyment. Being right might allow you to make a point temporarily, but it often erodes relationships, and it isn't always necessary to convince another of your opinion. Sometimes people retain the "need to be right," because underneath they are afraid that they won't be able to change a behavioral pattern, so, therefore, they justify it. But consider this: Changing a behavior doesn't mean that the larger you changes. It is okay to change a behavior, and it may make your life easier! So, if you discover a petulant behavior, you can take steps to change it by hiring a skilled psychologist or life coach who can help you set goals and work on attaining change.

9. You can practice being positive in the midst of adversity, developing a more sturdy sense of self. Mindfulness-based methods, such as focusing upon the breath and noticing sensory aspects of your immediate experience (what you see, hear, feel, smell, and taste) can lead you to feel more connected to the present moment. Since the pain of rejection resides in recalling memories of the rejection, a present-moment focus can feel extremely helpful. In addition, if you realize that people are likely to be rejecting an element of your behavior, not you as a person, you can learn to forgive yourself for the behavior, leading to the possibility of happiness, despite the rejection. Questions to consider: Can you release the demand that this adversity not exist? It already exists. Fighting with that reality isn't helping, is it? Can you look for reasons to feel good today? You're still here; can you allow today to be a good-feeling day? Do other opportunities exist? What good might emerge from this situation?

Feeling your feelings and eventually deciding to make progress could lead to greater resilience in the area of interpersonal rejection. Though you'd rather not get rejected in the first place, you're well on your way to growing if you utilize these ideas to open your eyes to the possibilities that reside beyond the pain.