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How to Cope with Rejection

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We’ve all experienced rejection in life. It could be you were passed up for promotion, excluded from social events, received a regret letter from a college, missed a job opportunity or rejected by a partner. All these circumstances elicit different degrees of pain, shame and anger. These feelings, if not processed, can make you live in self-doubt.

Rejection is a pivotal point in our lives. It’s a defining moment that determines how our future will turn out. Why? It can lead us to either give up or keep pushing. So, how exactly should you cope with rejection to ensure it doesn’t put you down for life?

Process your hurt

One time I applied for a position with the World Food Programme (WFP). I was so excited about the opportunity that I barely took my eyes off my email. Days turned into weeks, and I didn’t get any response. I was almost giving up when one morning; I woke up to an email from WFP. You can imagine my excitement. My eyes lit up as I clicked the email, only to get a rude shock that there were candidates more qualified than me. Saying I was mad is an understatement. I was devastated.

I went through the day with a long face, spoiling for a fight at the slightest provocation. It took me up to a month to overcome the disappointment and anger that came with the rejection.

I learned that to recover from rejection; you must identify what you are feeling. Let the feelings heal slowly rather than harbouring them, hoping they’ll disappear. Mourn, cry, scream, meditate, do whatever makes you feel better. Then take the less travelled road of analyzing your role in the rejection.

Examine your role in the rejection

Often we will pull the victim card when we are rejected, absolving ourselves of any wrongdoing. But we all know that if we look deeper, there’s something we could have done better. If it’s an interview, perhaps you can replay your interaction with the interviewing panel. If they have passed you for promotion, chances are you are not a team player or not committed enough to be trusted with the next level. Suppose it’s a rejection from a partner, it could be you were taking your partner for granted.

In every scenario, where you experienced rejection, examine your role. Is there something you could have done better for a different result? What can you do to get a better outcome in the future? This self-assessment doesn’t mean that the other party did nothing wrong. It only means that you are taking responsibility and paying attention to areas you could have overlooked previously.

Practice self-affirmation

When you experience rejection, you’ll doubt yourself a lot. There’s a small voice that will give you a thousand reasons why you are the last person on the planet who could ever get that opportunity. 

You can choose to believe this voice and join the condemnation or turn the tables around and talk yourself out of the defeating thoughts.

Beyond the bad break, you have other things going on for you. So, write the amazing things you have achieved and your positive attributes. Read them aloud every time you are tempted to wallow in self-pity.  

Self-affirmation helps you cope with the pain because as a person, you are more than a single incidence. Self-affirmation anchors you on your strengths, reminds you of who you are, and helps you deal with self-doubt.

Spend time with loved ones.

There’s a reason why the saying east or west home is best always come up when we feel dejected and lonely. Spending time with friends and family, people who truly care about us gives us a sense of belonging. It’s an affirmation that we are still lovable. The strong support system gives us something to fall back to. So, always remember that you are worthy, and some people truly care about you despite your current disappointment.

Don’t let rejection stop you

The whole point of coping with rejection is so that you can rise above the incident and try again. Rejection should not limit you from the future you aspire. Let it be a learning experience which you don’t dwell on for too long. Dust yourself and try again because if you can’t cope and overcome rejection, you definitely don’t deserve success.

Mourine Odongo
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