Tips for Teens: How to Deal with Rejection
How to Deal With Rejection
Rejection, as an ego-reducing emotion, is nothing short of painful. Recognize the hidden elements of this emotion as catalysts for productive change towards a better, stronger, more powerful you.
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We reject things on a daily basis — we reject items we don’t want, ideas we don’t like and opportunities we don’t see fit. Rejection is as much a part of our world as is approval. It drives a healthy system of competition and ensures a high standard of quality. But what happens when we as human beings reject each other?
Rejection comes as one of the most brutal stakes to the heart because it deals a direct blow to our ego. The ego is the inherent part of the self which holds intact our pride, esteem and self-worth. When the ego is bruised, a core element of our being is damaged. We often feel reduced to a lesser versions of ourselves. We automatically begin to blame ourselves, assuming there must be something wrong with us and criticizing the behavior that led to our rejection.
Of the many forms of rejection, being denied by a love interest is most agonizing. We are grieved by a deep sense of bitterness and spite, both against the other person and against ourselves. Ironically, though, we feel an inexplicable sense of longing — a stronger desire towards the rejecter than ever before. As a psychologist, I’ve seen many become stuck in a cycle of voluntary, unrequited love. The more they were rejected, the more they “wanted” the person rejecting them. They refused to give up. Whether this strange phenomenon stems from a prehistoric gene, or it’s that we’re slightly masochistic, is difficult to say. What’s certain, however, is that rejection can cause cycles of unhealthy emotions and behavior.
The strange chemistries of the universe work thus — the less you care about a person, the more they care about you. And the more you care about a person, the less they seemingly care about you. It is nothing short or ironic, and sadly, most anyone who’s ever been in love can vouch. Understanding the chemistry of rejection begins with acknowledging our undeniable value as human beings. To change our perceived impression of rejection, we must first solidify our self-worth. Bear in mind these truths the next time you feel overwhelmed by rejection.
Don’t take it so personally. The only reason we suffer the sting of rejection is because we feel emotionally attached to a person. Had we no emotions towards them, their rejection would mean nothing to us. Rejection becomes a burden we carry entirely on our shoulders — we blame nobody but ourselves. We truly believe there must be something intrinsically wrong within us to cause a person to dismiss us. Yet oftentimes it has nothing to do with us. A person may be too busy, overburdened, or complicated to want to involve us in their lives. Remember that you never really know what goes on within someone’s mind to draw conclusions for him or her.
It really isn’t you. When somebody rejects you, they are acting on their own insecurities and fears. Take comfort in knowing that the person who rejects you is dealing with their own personal issues and that you most likely did nothing to cause their decision. Rejection — especially harsh or cruel rejection — is a manifestation of self-insufficiencies and a lack of self-tolerance.
It happened for a greater reason. When we feel rejected, we trap ourselves in a moment of doubt and distress. But we must learn to see past the fleeting period of pain and acknowledge that there is a higher purpose to not getting what (or whom) we want. That higher purpose is usually revealed in time. I’ve had many clients tell me that they felt awful when a love interest turned them away, only to find the perfect partner when they least expected it. When that happened they became grateful that they were rejected, or else they would’ve never met a new and better person. In retrospect, they laugh at the fits of emotions which rejection invoked. We all discover the greater purpose of our pain in due time.
This is not a new pain. Rejection can be a lifelong ordeal stemming from childhood. For some children who were abandoned by a parent, rejection becomes a recurring challenge to conquer throughout life. They may overreact when they feel turned them down and not know that this is caused by a subconscious memory. Understanding the primary source of rejection and the impact it had on you can help you deal with this unpleasant emotion. Accept that this is not the first or last time you’ll feel the ache of rejection, but that you’ve defeated this emotion before and will emerge stronger from each instance.
Accepting and Establishing Boundaries
Regardless of whether or not you’re friends or acquaintances with the person you’re talking to, there will be subsequent boundaries that need to be met afterward. It’s easier if you’re asking a stranger for their number – you can accept the rejection and walk away to work on your personal feelings. If you don’t have anything in common, you can consider it a passing interaction.
However, when it comes to someone you may run into frequently or you have mutual friends with, it can feel more difficult to disregard the rejection. Talk to a support group consisting of friends, family, and possibly a mental health care professional. Not only can they provide insight into how you may be able to successfully ask someone out, but they can also help you get reasonably prepared for rejection. Regardless of how much you care for the person, you’ll need to respect their desire for space or a distance in communication.
Boundaries may also come in the form of not talking about it. While you shouldn’t block all of the results in feelings you get from being rejected, you don’t necessarily need to talk that out with the other person. Discussing the issues with a support system can help you feel better about the issues and underlying worries – however, discussing this with the person that rejected you could be the opposite. Even if they’re someone you’re close with and trust with other aspects of your life, taking time to work on those away from the person that uncovered them could promote independence you may be missing.
In some situations, a rejection can catch you off guard. Sometimes, you may be under the impression that you and the other person are on the same page or you feel comfortable enough to talk to them. Being prepared to give you both some space is important to keep a friendship or close acquaintance from feeling uncomfortable. While you may be going through disappointment and other negative emotions, the mental wellness of you both is crucial.
While they aren’t under any obligation to give you an explanation for their answer, it could benefit you both to ask them for their reasoning. It can give you both a chance to communicate a possible change in the future, a request to stay friends after a period of space or to remove yourself from the situation. Whatever their decision afterward, respecting that answer can not only lead to a faster recovery for you both but give you a sense of closure that can help you move forward.
Becoming flustered or aggressive with rejection should never be your reaction. If you’re feeling upset about a result – maybe they had an attitude when they responded or you felt “led on” or targeted – you should remove yourself from the situation. Accept the rejection, walk away, and discuss the confusion or frustration with a trusted system that will help you talk through it in a productive environment.