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Unless you married your high school sweetheart and are living happily ever after, it’s likely you’ve experienced your fair share of rejections. Being loved and accepted is a basic human need, so when we get rejected, it hurts like hell.
But where in your life do you learn how to handle rejection healthily? By sweeping heartache under the carpet, you’re setting yourself up for trouble. Without proper healing, you may find yourself putting up barriers to avoid future rejection because you don’t know how to deal with it, which can impact the quality of your future relationships.
Here are eight tips to not only help you bounce back from rejection but to also help you learn from the process and succeed in your next romantic endeavor:
You’ve been rejected. At first, you may be in denial. Surely, your date has made a mistake and doesn’t realize how great you are. You may wait for the moment to pass, force your date to talk to you, or try to convince him or her of the error in their judgment. Then you realize the rejection is real, and, for reasons you may or may not fully understand, your date doesn’t want to be with you.
Accepting that whatever you had is truly over is the first step to healing and rebuilding yourself. It’s time to give up what you can’t control and start focusing on what you can.
Give yourself permission to be sad, angry, and hurt, and give yourself permission to cry your eyes out and wallow. Let yourself grieve the loss you are suffering. Acknowledge that you’re only human and that it’s OK to feel pain, even if it’s uncomfortable. Feel all the feels, and experience your emotions fully.
Allowing yourself to feel what you’re feeling is a key stage in dealing with rejection. Though it may be easier to bottle it up and carry on as usual, if you don’t give your emotions their air time in the moment, there’s a good chance they’ll seep out later in less healthy ways and bite you in the ass.
It’s hard not to take rejection personally and jump to self-criticism and self-doubt. It feels like you’re not good enough. What you forget is the other person may have rejected you for a host of reasons — many of which could be nothing to do with you. They might be dealing with personal baggage, challenges, and fears that you’ll never fully understand.
You’ll have plenty of opportunity later to analyze and reflect, but when you’re raw and hurting, go easy. Instead of punishing yourself, treat yourself as you would treat someone else in the same situation as you: with gentleness, compassion, and sensitivity. It doesn’t hurt to remind yourself that you don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you anyway. You have more self-respect than that. If it’s meant to be, it will be. Focus on you.
This is the time to draw on the strength of friends and family. Rejection can feel lonely, so it’s the perfect time to reconnect with the folks who have your back. Rally all the love and support you need to carry you through this difficult time.
Send texts, have phone calls, go for coffees and walks, and cry on their laps. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’d do the same for them. Refocusing on your meaningful relationships will remind you that life goes on and that you’re loved and valued.
You’re healing an emotional wound, which can take anything from weeks to months. There is no formula. Give yourself the time and space you need to rebalance. No one is judging you, and there’s no pressure to bounce back quickly.
Take all the time you need, and continue to treat yourself kindly. Maximize self-care: meditate, exercise, journal, create, eat well, visit museums, be with friends, listen to music, and do whatever else feeds your soul. Dating again can be an effective distraction, but it’s wise to use most of your energy on yourself. The deeper you heal, the stronger you become.
Space and healing has occurred, and you feel strong enough to reflect on the end-to-end experience. What did you learn about who you are? What could you have done differently? What did rejection bring up for you? What do you need going forward?
It may be helpful to unravel your thoughts on paper, discuss with friends, or have a couple of focused therapy sessions. You may end up with some concrete areas that you want to work on.
There comes a moment when you’ve wallowed plenty, and it’s time to climb out of your cocoon into the real world again. You may not want to do it, but you’ll likely be glad that you did.
Plan something you enjoy, and then scrub up and make yourself feel as attractive as humanly possible — whatever it takes. Trust that you’ll know when it’s the right time to try this. If you find that it’s too much too soon, go back to one of the previous steps.
Your recovery cycle is complete — you’ve hurt, rebuilt and reflected — and you’re back out there. You’re ready to dip your toe in the pool of possibility and meet someone new, but this time you’re armed with a raft of new insights. You’ve thought deeply about your last relationship, and you have greater clarity on what you’re looking for and what you need going forward.
It helps to make a list of exactly what you are looking for in your next partner. Be strict, specific, and prioritize the order. Then silently send it out into the universe, and trust that the universe will deliver. You’ll be amazed at the change in your attitude and focus once you pinpoint exactly what you want.
These structured steps for handling rejection can offer guidance and comfort at a time when you may feel most lost. They encourage you to tackle rejection head on — to feel the pain and work through it healthily and completely.
Once you’ve gone through a cycle of dealing with rejection this way, you’ll emerge confident knowing that no matter what gets thrown at you next time around, you can more than handle it.