“I don’t want to be rejected, again” a forty year-old, newly single counseling client recently told me. While no one wants to be rejected, it happens to all of us. We cannot avoid it. The best outcome might be to accept, adapt and move on.
These are simple words for very complicated situations at any age. Think back to those times as children or teens where our playmates or young romantic partners may have made choices that disappointed us, or did not include us. Those were difficult times, too. We may have been angry or may have become very sad for a period of time.
As we age, rejections can multiply. Now they may take the form of being passed over for a job for which we thought we were perfect, or of a loved one breaking off an engagement or long-term relationship. How that hurts! The pain can feel like there is no end. We are survivors, though. Somehow we get through it. There is resilience and strength within each of us. It can be that quality and strength that helps us cope.
Accept. When rejection occurs, our first response may be disbelief or added resolve to change the outcome. However, when there is no doubt left, we have no choice but to accept. We must accept that someone may not have thought us qualified for work or for romance. We need to accept the idea that we will not get what we want, that our wishes for a time will be unfulfilled. We may be tempted to conclude we aren’t good enough. Our self-esteem may suffer. We may blame ourselves, or others. The outcome remains the same. We have no choice or control over the outcome at that moment. Rejection remains.
Adapt. Is it possible that we might learn something from rejection? Did our actions or beliefs in part contribute to the rejection? If signs were missed, how might we be more aware next time? Honest reflection may teach us to approach the next situation in a different manner or with a better understanding.
Move on. We cannot wallow in rejection. It leads to negativity and a cynical world-view. Many people get emotionally stuck in the ‘what if’ and ‘what could have been.’ Some people are so damaged by rejection they carry hurt feelings throughout their lives. They might try to protect themselves from future rejection by rejecting others first or putting up such a hard exterior that no one can emotionally penetrate their barriers. This behavior isn’t conducive to happiness, and often makes people even more angry and sad.
Moving on is the more positive choice. In time, it is possible to find another job, relationship, or friendship. The process of moving on is accomplished through personal insight and the courage to change. With these tools, rejection becomes history possibly leading to future success and fulfillment.
About the author
Rion Kweller, Ph.D. is an Executive Life Coach and a Licensed Psychologist in Williamsville, NY. His websites are www.iplanforsuccess.com and www.bhnet.org. To reach Dr. Kweller call (716) 634-1184 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.