How to deal with rejection while dating
Dealing with rejection can be painful, whether it happens at work, at home, at school or in relationships. Rejection comes in many forms and it can be tempting to wallow in self-pity and despair when we have been rejected. Fortunately, there are things we can do that can help us handle rejection with dignity and purpose. Everyone experiences rejection – it is what we do in response that determines how we feel about ourselves. Rejection is scary, because it reminds us that we cannot control people and circumstances. Here are a few ideas of things we can do to overcome the rejection blues.
Be Aware of Your Emotions
Rejection is a form of loss, creating the sense of losing something we thought we had. Being rejected can feel like an outright violation of our expectations, which is why many of us feel offended when we are rejected. When the rejection is very painful or unexpected, it can be scary, making us feel as though the world we live in is unsafe and malevolent. When things do not go the way we expect, we often feel devastated and powerless, especially if we are very attached to a particular outcome.
We can acknowledge our loss, reminding ourselves that our feelings are never unacceptable or wrong, but they are also not entirely true. No matter how extreme or violent our feelings might seem, though, it is important to give ourselves the opportunity to experience them. Anger, sadness and disappointment are all natural responses when dealing with rejection. We can allow for our feelings, whatever they are, without holding onto them. We can let them come, and let them go.
Practice Acceptance When rejection occurs, one of the ways many of us automatically respond is with denial. We may tell ourselves that this is not happening or that this is all a mistake that will soon be corrected. Denial is a mechanism of self-defense. We deny that something unpleasant is happening because the reality is too painful. We can gently correct ourselves by saying, “This is happening, and it will be okay. This does not mean that I am a bad person or that I have done something wrong.”
Talk to Someone You Trust Another common impulse when dealing with rejection is to isolate and to cut ourselves off from support. This is another way that we unconsciously try to protect ourselves from more pain. Many of us equate relationships (revealing ourselves to others in work, love, family and friendships) with the disappointment that sometimes occurs in those relationships.
This is a false equation. Talking to someone who has our best interests at heart will remind us of that and keep us from becoming disillusioned and fearful. Seeking out someone who has been through a similar experience of rejection can be particularly helpful. A person like this can provide insights and suggestions that we may not have considered, and also assure us that we are not alone.
Take Action and Get Moving It does not matter what we do, only that we take action and get moving. We can do dishes, pay bills, organize or finish up that work report we have been neglecting. Purposeful movement clears the mind of the stagnant energy and negative emotions that hang around when we are dealing with rejection. This is a perfect time to do something we have been putting off. We are probably thinking, “What’s the use? I will still be miserable, and it will not change the fact that I have been dumped/passed over for that promotion/turned down by my number-one choice for graduate school.” We can choose to think about it differently. We can be heartbroken in a messy living room that makes us feel even more miserable, or we can take constructive action that will likely lift our spirits and self-esteem.
Action has a wonderful way of breeding self-confidence and feelings of empowerment. You will feel less like a victim of your circumstances when you take action in an area you can actually control. Though it may sound like torture to suggest cleaning a closet after what feels like the most painful breakup in history, the sooner we get moving, the better we will feel. It is okay to resist for a while. As soon as we are ready, we can give it a try. If it still seems like an insurmountable, useless task, we can make a deal with ourselves to try it out for fifteen minutes. If we want to stop after 15 minutes, we can stop. But we usually find that the momentum of positive, productive energy created in just those 15 minutes is sufficient to make us want to keep going.
Be Kind to Yourself
One of the best times to do something nice for ourselves is when we are dealing with rejection. This serves a dual purpose: we get to do something enjoyable, and in so doing, we also prove to ourselves that we are worth the effort and attention. We can buy ourselves a special gift or get a massage, manicure and pedicure. We can set aside a day in the coming week to do whatever we want to do, whether that means browsing in a bookstore all afternoon sipping coffee, or losing ourselves in an art project. Planning ahead for “me” time brings with it the gift of something to look forward to, which makes difficult situations infinitely more bearable.
Be Kind to Someone Else
Whether it is a pet, a relative or a stranger, this strategy is particularly effective for coping with rejection. Focusing on someone else’s needs for a time reminds us that we are not the center of the universe, and that our disappointments are not as devastating and all-encompassing as we make them out to be. Perhaps someone we love is ill, confined to home or hospital bed. We can ask if there is anything we might help that person with, being grateful for our health and our ability to offer help. Feeling useful is a failsafe cure for self-pity. We can call a friend and ask how she is, without mentioning or complaining about our circumstances. Take the dog for an extra-long walk, or spend time snuggling with the cat – such small, loving actions center us, bring us great comfort and remind us that we matter to other beings.
Reaffirm Your Successes Rejection can make us feel as though we are failing, and can even lead us to falsely assume that not only have we failed, we are complete failures. Reminding ourselves of specific successes is a great way to remember our assets and accomplishments during a time when we are tempted to focus only on the negative. By focusing on the positive, we give it power in our minds, in our actions and ultimately in our circumstances. This does not mean that thinking positively will ensure that we never experience disappointment.
What it does mean, however, is that our thoughts color our experiences. We have the power to use past success as evidence that future success is possible and, indeed, probable.
Rejection is a bitter pill to swallow. But its purpose is not gratuitous pain. If we have relationships with other people and if we regularly take risks, rejection is inevitable. Like any experience, rejection teaches a valuable lesson that we simply cannot learn any other way. We can always choose to see that value, although it may be difficult at first. Dealing with rejection in one area of life can teach us to deal more gracefully with our next experience of rejection in a completely different area. Lessons like these build on themselves. We can use our past experiences of rejection to make our future experiences less painful.
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