No matter how hard core a professional you are in the corporate world, whether you are a media tycoon, a day care mother, a professional athlete, lawyer, teacher, mother, landscaper, artist or baker – rejection hits hard.
No matter whether it comes in a professional form, such as being turned down for a promotion or a job application or losing a competition or in a personal aspect – when you are asked for a divorce or when your partner wants to move on without you, rejection has a way of taking the wind right out of you. And at the time that rejection hits, it feels as though you will never recover from such pain.
Rejection is a bit like a train wreck; events that spiral out of control right before your eyes and in just a few moments your life as you knew it is changed forever. And it's only once you start to clear through the debris of the wreck, that the magnitude of loss really hits you right between the eyes.
Rejection is much like experiencing a loss in many ways, and on many levels, the stages of healing are similar. On the scale of stress in life, there are considered to be some 43 documented events that can cause serious health issues directly attributed to stress. And the second highest on that scale is divorce. Make no mistake, whether you were married or not, marital separation or the end of any relationship will have the same effect; rejection at its most unforgiving.
Know this; you will recover from this wreck that you now feel that your life is in – it is a certainty. And you will emerge from this event, stronger, more empathetic, kinder and more resilient than ever before.
Think of what has happened to you – whether you have been bypassed for that promotion, or your husband wants to move in with his girlfriend –as a devastating fire that has wiped out a forest. Your life being the forest and the fire the event of rejection, and in just a few days, once the smouldering fire has been put out, you will start to clear the debris and make way for new growth that is starting right underneath the devastation.
We have all seen the magnificence that a forest in healing, with its gorgeous green bursts of life and colour emerging through charred wood and burnt timbers looks like. That will be you before you know it and even better than before.
How to get there
Recovery from rejection is easier said than done – the pain is often a physical, all-consuming entity that feels as if it might swallow you whole in the beginning. And it is important to acknowledge that you need support and friendship from those around you that love and care for you.
Here are some excellent ways to recover from rejection, to help you get through the worst, as you work through your feelings of shock and anger.
1. Ask for Help
This is actually, as you will find one of the most difficult things to do and one of the most powerful acts of kindness you can give yourself. After reeling from rejection, all sorts of bad friends in your head are going to be slamming you, blaming you and making you feel even worse than you do already. There is no harsher critic than our own hurt, inner voice. When you already feel like a failure, you may see asking for help as a further sign of weakness and refuse out of pride to try and manage all on your own.
Not being able to ask for help is a sign of weakness in itself. It says I am not worthy of help and you tell yourself you don’t want to burden your friends and family.
Asking for help is a sign of maturity and strength – recognising that you are unable to cope with all of this on your own shows that you are taking control of a situation that needs more than one person to manage it. Your close friends and family want to help you, they feel helpless when you shut them out, and nobody feels more affirmed than when they are needed.
‘’Please come, I need you’’ are words that will get you the emotional and physical support you need. A simple task of fetching kids from school, inviting a friend for tea and she arrives with dinner and a bottle of wine and gets the kids bathed and fed and in bed for you, or just popping in with bread and milk on their way home, are all things you will be so pleased you asked for at this time.
2. Talk It out
Don’t keep your feelings bottled up, ask your friends round, a neighbour, a sister, an auntie – anyone – and just talk it through. Somebody who has experienced what you are going through already in their life, will have some excellent perspective for you, some great advice on how to separate the rejection from your self-esteem and how to manage the feelings that are coming in floods.
Keep a diary, record your feelings and you will also have a chance to look back and see how far you have progressed and where you have come from. Think of it this way – everybody has an imaginary bottle inside and every feeling they don’t deal with because it is too painful at the time gets put into the bottle.
We forget that just because we are unable to deal with something as it is happening doesn’t mean it has somewhere else to go. And when that bottle gets full, there will be an explosion of emotions everywhere and you will take out all that hurt, frustration and pain on those around you: your kids, your colleagues, your friends, and family.
Instead, acknowledge the feeling. Make a conscious effort to ascertain whether the feeling is coming from a place of pain, a place of insecurity or you are dwelling on a nasty comment made from someone else. You don’t have to accept it as your own, rather just let it go into the universe, the atmosphere or whatever you believe and allow yourself to be free of negativity.
3. Be Kind to Yourself
This is the time where you really need to be gentle to yourself, treat yourself as you would a friend going through the same pain of rejection. Allow yourself to feel sad, but don’t allow yourself to wallow. Take care of yourself, have your nails done, do some exercise – yoga is an excellent way to strengthen your mind and your body and release bucket loads of much needed feel-good endorphins.
Paint, draw, bake, start a vegetable garden, walk the dog, swim, read, connect with your friends and family regularly, take up a hobby, start crocheting, knitting or sewing. Get involved with your community, offer hours at the local soup kitchen and visit your local care home and read stories and have tea with grandparents who don’t get many visitors. Old people are portals of untapped wisdom and by being kind to them you are being kind to yourself as well.
Rejection is a bitter pill to swallow – the most bitter of them all, but always remember, how others treat you is a sign of how they feel about themselves, and has nothing to do about how they feel about you.