If you’re alive, you have been rejected. From the days of not being picked on the playground to the “sorry, you’re not what we’re looking for” at job interviews to the dead air from people you have expressed romantic interest in to your boyfriend breaking up with you to friends fading. Rejection is a part of life. It happens to us often. But more importantly, it will not stop. EVER! People will say no to you for the rest of your life. Hopefully there will also be a lot of yes's too. But no's will come like the seasons. It doesn’t matter who you are, what kind of position you hold, or how much money you have, everyone gets rejected.
But today, social media and dating apps have created ways to feel rejected from the convenience of your own home. You can feel really bad about yourself without ever leaving the house. From left swipes to unanswered DMs to unfollows, rejection is everywhere and they are puncturing our self worth. We are drowning in them.
Here’s why they are so crushing.
We internalize the no.
This means we tightly tie our worth, value as a human being, abilities, skills, appearance, talents, gifts, who we are as a friend, partner, lover, employee, coach, leader, teacher, however you define yourself, to the no—which we hear as “you’re not ________ enough."
Social media is lighter fluid to that fire. It causes us to tie that rope more tightly. We know television isn’t real so we can separate a commercial from us and our lives. But social media is real, real people, our next door neighbors, our friends, people we went to high school with, so we can’t help but to compare ourselves with who we see on our phone. And we quickly forget that people can hide behind their phones with filters and project a life that isn’t accurate. So when “real people” say no, we fall from our comparison cliff and wonder what’s wrong with us. We feel defective and less than.
And yes, that is how we feel and our feelings are valid. But our feelings are not facts; this is the tiny crack we must kick open to go in and cut that cord so that we no longer believe rejection is about us.
There are reasons in their "no" that may not have anything to do with you. It doesn’t matter if someone swipes left, didn’t return your DM, stopped following you, or flat out said they’re not interested in you or anything you do. Rejection is rejection and that feeling of feeling less than or not enough will always be there. Unless you cut that cord—not personalize it.
The way you do that is to reframe the rejection.
I understand it feels horribe to be rejected by someone you like or want approval from. I’ve been rejected many times. But over the years I’ve learned to stuff my ego into my back pocket and take a look at it from a different angle. And it has helped. A lot. First, instead of telling yourself someone didn’t like you or that you’re not good enough, reframe it as a signal that you both weren't a good match for each other.
If the rejection comes early, like on a first or second date or even earlier like not getting swiped or followed back or no return on a DM, that’s not a real rejection—they don’t know you enough for them to be rejecting you. Yes, they can see what you look like or how you live but that’s about preferences. They are not denying you as a person because they don’t know you as a person. They may be rejecting your hair or your clothes or your photos or your lifestyle. But that’s not you—that’s a projected image. It’s their perception of you.
Also, their “no” may be coming from something else, maybe their own fears, insecurities, triggers, or maybe you remind them of someone they don’t like, like an ex perhaps, and they don’t even know it. Or maybe they’re saying no to you because you make THEM feel less than. There’s a lot that happens underneath that we’re not aware of. Simply put, one’s resistance. Yes, rejection can be a form of one’s personal resistance. And resistance is more about the person resisting and less about who or what they’re resisting. So instead of seeing it as a rejection, see it as resistance. Now it’s about them and not you.
Now, because someone doesn’t want you, what do you do? You seek their approval even more. And we do this NOT because we really want them so much. We do this because if we can convince them to like us, it means something about us. It means we are worthy, pretty, handsome, lovable, popular, etc. etc. etc. Yes, this is proof you have tied your worth to their no. You get to a place where you believe some people like red and some people like blue and that’s okay. It’s not about you. It’s about fit, preferences, tastes, where they’re at in their life, and tons of subconscious stuff you have no idea about. Things that are tied to their story. Like people who are attracted to people who remind them of their dad or mom or first love. Again, that has nothing to do with you.
Now that you’ve redefined rejection as one’s resistance, which may or may not have anything to do with you, and you realize that part of feeling rejected comes from wanting their approval but you may not necessarily want them.
It doesn’t matter if the rejection is romantic or friends or business. A relationship is a relationship. And relationships require your investment. So what would that relationship look like? I’ll tell you, a tipped seesaw. Lopsided is not worth investing your attention and time in.
So instead of seeing the no as rejection, see it as you dodging a bullet. Because no one’s got time to chase people. Because if you’re chasing, you’re not going to be you anyway and if you’re not you, you’re not going to enjoy the experience. You’ll be a false version of yourself. And you shouldn’t negotiate that. If you can’t do it for you, do it for us. Because you being you is what makes you shine and allows us to experience your unique gifts. And that’s where technology/the internet/social media can be powerful.
To project your authentic self into the world.
To throw your stone.
To make your ripple.
And don’t let anyone take that away.
Use social media/dating apps as a giant strainer. Be you and pour your friends, co-workers, family, the world into your strainer. Anyone who “rejects” you will fall through the strainer. Allow them to go down the river. The people/followers who stay are the nuggets of gold. They will encourage you, support you, and help you on your journey.
Use “rejection” to find your tribe.