What is rejection? Some people think that they feel rejected, but actually rejection is not a feeling. Rejection is an event in which a person does not give you something that you want (such as their approval, an employment opportunity, continued companionship, sexual intimacy, etc).
Why do I feel what I feel? People have feelings in response to their beliefs about rejection. Some people get hopeless and depressed after a rejection, however being rejected doesn’t automatically cause you to feel any specific way. For example, have you ever experienced someone telling you “no” & realizing that you felt relieved? Or, have you ever felt angry after experiencing a “no”? Or felt guilty? Or ashamed? Or, have you ever not really cared whether or not someone said yes or no?
Albert Ellis founded Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT), which would posit that the reason that you felt what you felt has to do with your underlying beliefs & philosophies about getting the approval, companionship, support, intimacy, etc of another.
In the A-B-C model, A stands for an adversity or activating event. B stands for your beliefs about an event. C stands for the consequences of these beliefs (emotional, behavioral, and physical). REBT looks at what you say to yourself about rejection and helps you to consider more logical, useful, and truthful alternatives in order to help you to create healthier emotional and behavioral responses. This model can help you to overcome shyness and social anxiety, for example, as discussed by PT Blogger Dr. Bill Knaus.
4 Healing REBT Ideas to Help Move Past Rejection:
1. REBT can teach you that while an experience of rejection may be very inconvenient and you may feel very disappointed by it, it is rarely ever awful/horrible/terrible. (In REBT, something is “awful” when it is as bad as it could possibly be and it cannot get any worse.)
2. REBT woud help you remember that while an experience of rejection may leave you lonely, it is rarely a permanent condition. You can take steps to diminish loneliness.
3. In the case of rejection by a potential employer (or a current employer), REBT would help you to recognize that this may create special challenges for you financially and in your career. However these are also (a) not usually permanent and (b) not usually the worst it could possibly be /horrible.
4. REBT encourages us to move away from self-rating when rejected. This is because deciding to rate yourself on the basis of whether or not someone rejects you, allows another person to have power and control over your view of you (because you consent to it). This makes interactions with others very stressful for you because your worth, loveability, and/or adequacy are always on the line since you’ve decided to use another’s opinion as a yardstick and to view their opinion with permanence. Instead, remember the metaphor of a flower: just as a flower is okay as it is, even if someone doesn't approve of it, you are okay as you are.
Other therapies that are in the same camp are also very useful in helping you to revisit your self-talk about rejection.
Cognitive Therapists Aaron and Judith Beck have identified three categories of core beliefs which also may be useful to consider in this discussion. Core beliefs of unloveability, inadequacy, and unworthiness can be triggered by the “activating event” of a rejection.
• Relational rejections may remind you of a time when you saw yourself as unloveable or undesirable.
• Occupational rejections may remind you of a time when you saw yourself as inadequate.
• Rejections which are due to a bad act that you did may remind you of a time when you saw yourself as unworthy, immoral, or bad.
The thing to remember is that just because an idea is triggered and it feels true, it does not make it true. An idea is just an idea.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapist Steve Hayes asks you whether you have to attach to your ideas at all. You continue to bother yourself over something that is in the past, but you could consider stepping back and observing. As the observer, you might decide to simply letting the idea go by, just as you might allow a car to drive by, rather than jumping on it for a ride.
In the Sedonna Method, not a cognitive therapy but a very useful shifting model, Hale Dwoskin teaches you to ask yourself questions which might trigger a release, recognizing that you don’t need to change how you feel at all. However, in just pondering these questions for a moment, it is interesting to wonder (1) Could you let the disturbing idea go? (2) If you could, then would you? (3) When?
Remember that it ideas that are believed lead to feelings and behaviors that correspond to the belief. Once you stop believing an idea, you can shift out of the feeling and change the behavior.
Sometimes you may lack skill and may need to work on improving your behavior. This does not mean anything bad about you and it is an opportunity for growth.
When you have an idea that you are believing, you can experiment with any of these different introspective options until you find one that works:
(1) Become aware of the idea and allow yourself to let it go.
(2) Consider opposing ideas.
(3) Dispute the idea using questions that challenge its utility, validity, and logic.
(4) Develop a more compassionate idea using the REBT Self-Help Form.
(5) Change your vantage point using meditation, reading, or a healthy behavior.
(6) Get the help of a friend, family member, past employer or someone else who might remind you of your positive qualities.
(7) If you are persistent in your self-disturbing, get the help of an REBT, CT, or ACT therapist.
(8) Read rational literature which also encourages you to take action.
To learn more about how to shift out of unhealthy negative emotion and into productive action, check out The REBT Super-Activity Guide by Pam Garcy, PhD., who also has upcoming workshops on emotional healing and becoming fearless.