Rejection is about as pleasant as a porta potty.
It stinks, it’s confining and uncomfortable, and when using one, you’re terrified that someone will open the door and expose you at your most vulnerable.
But there’s another way to look at it.
As they say: “It’s not rejection; it is redirection.”
In other words: rejection can often be a good thing.
To that end, let’s explore the emotions associated with rejection and how to reframe eliminations, exclusions, and brutal rebuffs.
- Why Is Rejection So Painful?
- Why Is Rejection Sometimes a Blessing?
- 11 Ways to Use Rejection as Redirection for a Better Life
- 1. Pay Attention to the Lessons
- 2. Develop Your Self-Esteem
- 3. Zone in on Weaknesses
- 4. Build Compassion and Forgiveness
- 5. Push Out of Your Comfort Zone
- 6. Easier Access to Your Higher Self
- 7. Reminder About the Nature of Life
- 8. Keep It Moving
- 9. Deeply Consider Self-Worth
- 10. Time For a Cleansing
- 11. Continue Searching and Growing
- Final Thoughts
Why Is Rejection So Painful?
Why does rejection sting like a murder hornet? Why does it slither into your subconscious, stay for a while, and chat up your inner “Salty Sarah”?
In other words: Why does it hurt so badly!?
- Same as Physical Pain: Studies show that emotional pain triggers the same neural pathways as physical pain.
- Evidence of Inadequacy: We feel like we do not measure up when rejected.
- Puts Self-Critic Into Overdrive: Falling short triggers our inner self-critic.
- Destabilizes Desire To Belong: Rejection can make us feel like we don’t belong, which is one of the four primary human fears.
- Social Rejection Endures: We remember social rejection longer than physical pain, causing it to have a greater impact on our lives.
- Triggers Stress and Anger Functions: Not getting something we want triggers our stress and anger buttons, which is physically and mentally unnerving.
Why Is Rejection Sometimes a Blessing?
Rejection is about as pleasant as a pig pen. So how can you flip the script and transform rejection into a positive? Heck, can it even be done?
Yes, it can. And though it may be tough to believe at first, rejection often ends up being the optimal thing. It’s the Universe’s way of nudging you in the best direction for you. What are some general benefits of rejection?
- Gives You Time: It’s hard to recognize in the wake of rejection, but we have more time to concentrate on our true paths when we’re eliminated from other runnings.
- It’s Motivating: Rejection can be motivating, especially if you have experience with it and know how to turn lemons into lemonade.
- Helps You Cultivate Patience: When it takes longer to reach a goal or nab a dream job, we cultivate patience — another of life’s invaluable behavioral skills.
- Makes You Stronger: The more you’re knocked down and get back up, the stronger you’ll be — mentally and physically.
11 Ways to Use Rejection as Redirection for a Better Life
Some people say, “rejection is protection,” and we agree. A “no thanks” can redirect you on the path to greatness. It’s a shield that keeps you moving in the right direction.
With that in mind, let’s look at 11 ways to reframe rejection and see it as a positive.
1. Pay Attention to the Lessons
Nepotism and implicit judgments aside, when we’re not chosen for something, when we’re not the best candidate, it’s usually an indication that we need improvement in some category.
If possible, try to elicit feedback regarding rejections. If you didn’t get the job, ask the headhunter or HR department why you didn’t prevail. They may even have direct input from the person with whom you interviewed.
Siphon the life lessons from the situation and get to work.
2. Develop Your Self-Esteem
Self-esteem is a better predictor of success than intelligence. When we know and are comfortable with ourselves, we feel better and do better.
But it’s critical not to confuse self-esteem with over-confidence. You should never be ashamed of who you are, nor assume you’re the brightest bulb in the room.
Rejection forces us to continue working on our self-esteem in the face of disappointment. People who don’t get practice may experience more difficulty adjusting to life’s ups and downs.
3. Zone in on Weaknesses
Try to think of falling short as a way to identify the skills you need to work on. Knowing what to improve is better than guessing. What you thought was a weakness might turn out to be an asset and vice versa.
Don’t go overboard, though. There’s no need to beat yourself up.
Sometimes, there’s no rhyme or reason why someone triumphs over us — professionally, platonically, or romantically. In truth, luck plays a more significant part in life than we may care to admit.
Keep an open mind, remember that we can never see the whole picture, and work on any shortcomings the rejection may have revealed.
4. Build Compassion and Forgiveness
Compassion and forgiveness are wonderful qualities that enhance our personalities and professional output.
We’re less likely to get worked up about minor blips when we have compassion for ourselves and others. Things roll off our backs much easier because we understand that nobody is perfect, including ourselves.
People who practice genuine compassion and forgiveness don’t get mired in the blame and shame game. Instead, when mishaps crash-land, they immediately start working on solutions.
Rejection forces us to have compassion and forgiveness for ourselves. Becoming more comfortable with the concept allows us to extend the same grace to others.
5. Push Out of Your Comfort Zone
Failure pushes us out of our comfort zones — and that’s a super thing.
Studies prove that people improve when they challenge themselves. When we push ourselves past our current limits, neural pathways are formed and exercised.
To put it another way, operating outside your comfort zone is where the magic happens.
Rejection forces you to consider your path and whether it’s ideal. Sometimes, that cognitive journey spins us around, and we end up facing something new.
It can be scary, difficult, and risky — but the new idea may open a whole new world and reveal hidden talents.
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6. Easier Access to Your Higher Self
Your higher self loves the smack out of you. It understands precisely who you are and when it’s needed.
So when rejection slaps you across the face, call on your higher self. Explain how you’re feeling and why. Then ask for its advice and comfort. You’ll be surprised how easily it comes.
After all, our higher selves don’t want us to be in pain and love to lend a helping hand when the going gets rough.
7. Reminder About the Nature of Life
Life is a rollercoaster — a series of ups and downs, and being turned down is a humbling reminder of that fact.
See loss as a blessing. When we’re more accepting, it’s easier to cope, control our emotions, and keep trying when things don’t go smoothly.
When we don’t have experience handling criticism or rejection, hardships are much more challenging to overcome.
8. Keep It Moving
It’s a cliche, but it’s true: life is too short to wallow in the past. When we deal with rejection regularly, it keeps us from getting stuck.
When you have experience bouncing back, you’re better at it. For example, someone who makes it into middle age before being told “no” is in for a world of hurt when it happens.
That said, it’s never too late to change. Your higher self is ready whenever you are.
9. Deeply Consider Self-Worth
Rejections give us opportunities to contemplate the nature of self-worth. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does rejection define my entirety? (No.)
- Do successful, talented people fail? (Yes. All the time.)
- Should I personalize the rejection? (No.) Why not?
This type of emotional and rational work helps us understand that our jobs, dates, and friends don’t define our entire identity. Every person is an essence unto themselves, irrespective of their status or social position.
Developing a firm sense of self-worth is much more valuable in the long run than middling jobs that pass you by.
10. Time For a Cleansing
Have you ever energetically cleansed your home? It’s a rewarding experience that will leave you in better spirits and feeling accomplished.
After a rejection — or a string of rejections — it may be time for a house cleanse. The object is to usher out all of the unneeded and negative energy to make way for new, positive vibes.
Give yourself an entire day for a thorough cleansing, then spend the night in, relishing in your refreshed space.
11. Continue Searching and Growing
Getting rejected is a sign that life is nowhere near done with you.
Life gives us exactly what we need when it’s needed. Plus, if you do the work, it’ll position you in the ideal place at the right time.
So if life is still handing you rejections, it just means you have plenty of time to learn, grow, and figure out who you are and what you’re passionate about doing. Doing the work (which can take years, if not decades) makes room for “miracles.”
It may sound counterintuitive, but take our advice and never accept rejection as failure.
Embrace it and remember that many wildly successful people started their careers with a string of so-called “failures.” It may take three tries or 3,000. Just keep going, keep working, and keep trying.
Eventually, you’ll be celebrating your success.