A 10 step framework to deal with rejection

How to deal with rejection
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Learning how to deal with rejection is a basic life skill because almost all of us are rejected at some point in our lives. We are rejected by people we want to date, jobs we want to do, clients we want to work with, besides other everyday rejections.

How do you deal with rejection and why does rejection pain so much? We are going to figure out how to do all of this in this piece. Stay till the end of the piece so that you don’t miss out on anything. Every post on this happiness blog is meant to be a comprehensive guide on dealing with an aspect of life that affects our happiness as human being. In this piece, we would learn how to deal with rejection without causing much emotional damage. Rejection always hurts and would continue to hurt, but we need to be able to deal with it in a way so that it doesn’t paralyze us.

Let us start with the basics.

What is rejection?

Rejection means when you ask someone for what you want, and they decline it.

Does rejection hurt?

Yes, it pains, because clearly you really wanted what you had asked for, and it meant something to you. Now that you have been rejected, it pains because the expectation of that desire has been rendered unfulfilled. It could be a personal or a professional desire, but it was a desire that you wanted fulfilled.

Why is rejection so hard?

Rejection is hard for us because we form expectations about what we want, when we are asking a girl out, or applying for a job, or going for a business meeting or submitting a book proposal. When those expectations are not fulfilled, it hurts. Our happiness is tied to the outcome being positive and when the outcome turns out to be negative, it hurts like hell.

Since it is hard, we want to have ways to handle rejection, so that we can get over the emotional chasm it creates in our heart and our minds. How do we deal with rejection so that it doesn’t cause us much damage?

Here are 10 ways and suggestions to handle rejection, which may ease off some of the pain that comes from it:

1. You started at zero when you asked

Here is the most important thing about rejection. When you asked the girl out for a date, you didn’t not have a date. Getting rejected from a job doesn’t mean something has been taken away from you. You wanted the job but you didn’t have it. When you went for the client meeting hoping to win the business, the business didn’t exist.

There is nothing you have lost by asking her out for a date, or asking for a job, or asking for a gig, or asking for business. You asked for what you wanted, and they declined.

What did you lose? The only thing lost here is the opportunity that never existed.

You started at zero. You are back at zero. You just need to try again. There is a beautiful line I read about rejection several years back and it rings true forever.

It is not a match, until it is.

2. The rejection doesn’t reflect on you

The other day, someone asked me to attend a workshop they were organizing, and I politely declined and they felt rejected. The person in this case asked me if I thought that the workshop by itself was not a good idea, since I had rejected.

However, since I had said no for my reasons, and not theirs, I learnt a lesson. When people say no to us, they have their own reasons. It doesn’t quite reflect on us.

Don’t start feeling shitty about yourself every time someone says no to you. They have their reasons. There is nothing you can do about their reasons and therefore, it makes sense to move on.

3. Try and see if there is a lesson to learn from rejection

Learning how to deal with rejection is a hard process. In some cases, for example, there may be lessons. However, in some cases, there may be no lessons to learn. However, if there are lessons to learn from rejection, make the effort to learn, imbibe those lessons and move on.

For example, if you don’t get a job, and the company you applied to sends you a message that you didn’t get it because of your communication skills, you may want to work on your communication skills, so that you don’t lose another job because of the same reason.

However, let’s say that they reject you because they didn’t like your face or ideas, they won’t tell it. If they don’t tell that, and there is no feedback offered, there is nothing really that you can learn from this scenario.

For example, I recently had a business meeting out of which I was expecting a perfectly positive outcome, because to my mind, I had been able to answer the questions asked to me, and there was absolutely no moment of friction that would lead me to believe that the meeting didn’t go well. However, contrary to my expectations, the outcome didn’t turn out positive, and it has led me to a gnawing feeling of shock, since I can’t understand what I can possibly learn from this experience. The client offered no feedback, and there is nothing I can learn from this experience.

4. Do not let rejection hurt your self-worth

One of the most important things to learn about dealing with rejection is that it can hurt your self-worth if you let it. For example, take the example given above. Since there were no reasons given why the meeting did not turn out well, I can cook up a thousand negative reasons as to how I may have fallen short, and start feeling awful about myself.

I know I was competent, and still it did not work out. Therefore, while it hurts, it is important to not let rejection hurt our sense of self-esteem.

5. Take some time off

If you feel that rejection has caused you emotional damage because you really wanted what you had asked for, and that has been rejected, take some time off to process your emotions. Understand that it is hard to handle rejection and it is okay that you find yourself in a state of pain.

Take some time off from your regular schedule, short holiday, if you will, so that you can process what happened emotionally, and get back to life.

6. It is likely that rejection was a good thing

Steve Jobs said in his Stanford commencement speech that when he was fired from Apple, he felt rejected. He went on to add on:

“I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.”

So, he started over and the rest is history. You may not see it now, but in the macro story of your life, the rejection that pains you at this point, may turn out to be one of the most significant things that happened in your life.

Steve Jobs was right. We can’t join the dots looking forward. We can only join them looking backwards.

7. Look at rejection as a part of your journey

Just like failure is a part of the process, rejection is a part of the process. After all, rejection is a form of failure since you failed to achieve the desired outcome. Therefore, look at it as a part of the process, and move on to the next available opportunity that you are going to have a shot at.

Life is full of opportunities. The problem is that when we want something badly, and get rejected, we get so fixated on the rejection that we stop making effort. The ultimate failure and the only real failure in life is giving up. Everything else is part of the learning process.

8. Believe that something better would come out of it and start working towards it

If something doesn’t work out in your life, it simply wasn’t meant for you. This is not an optimistic statement- it is a fact of life.

There are so many things that we try to obtain in our lives. Some of them work out, and some of them don’t. If something doesn’t work out for you, be it a romantic association or a professional relationship, it wasn’t meant to show up in your life.

So, you need to move on and find other solutions to the problem that you are facing. As soon as you are mentally ready, start working on the other solutions. The faster you are able to move on from the rejection mentally and emotionally, the better it is, because it doesn’t serve you anymore.

9. Embrace positive self-talk

How you talk to yourself, especially in the context of rejection can make or break how you feel. Ensure that you don’t beat yourself down over and over about the rejection when you don’t even know what the reasons of your rejection have been.

Observe what you are saying to yourself. If you find yourself engaging in negative self-talk, watch yourself and stop. If you continue, it could lead you into an extremely negative state like clinical depression, which could be quite tough to find a way out of.

10. Get busy to overcome rejection

If you are still struggling while the rejection happened a while back in the context of time, try and get busy with work. Work is one of our ultimate saviour when we are constantly facing a negative situation. Get busy doing stuff that you enjoy, even if it is just a hobby that like engaging in.

Do not let your mind wander over and over to the point of rejection because the more you think about it, the more it will cause pain, because after all you wanted what has been declined to you. You would eventually get what and who is yours to have.

The list above covers 10 ideas on dealing with rejection in any situation. Since rejection can happen in several contexts, let us look at some of them specifically.

How to deal with rejection in love?

If you think you love someone and badly want them in your life, and they reject you, respect their decision and move on. It will hurt because you wanted to make them a part of your life, and the hurt is a part of life.

However, since you loved them, you would want them to be happy.

They have decided that being with you is not the right direction for them to be happy, for whatever reasons they have. You cannot contest their reasons.

Therefore, calmly accept their decision and move on. There is a high likelihood that there is something out there who would value you for who you are, and you would fall in love with them.

That is the only way to deal with rejection in love.

How to handle rejection from family?

It is quite a painful situation if your family doesn’t accept you. Family is one of the core emotional sources of strength for most of us, and if your family rejects you, I could be quite painful.

Try to talk it out with your family because after all, they raised you and they should want you to be happy. However, sometimes, when you take a different path than your family expected of you, it may be difficult for them to accept. Families where people love each other tend to be based on understanding and love.

However, for example, if you have come out as a part of the LGBTQ community, and your family rejects you, and refuses to accept your reality, there is nothing you can do, but accept their decision, and try to create a life without them. Similarly, if they reject you if you chose to take a career path that they didn’t want for you, you can’t do anything besides acceptance. Sometimes, unfortunately, home becomes a source of pain to us, and not joy.

Remember the definition of home:

It will be hard, but you will have to find a new home, where they understand you.

How to deal with rejection from a job?

It can be hard to deal with rejection from a job you really wanted. However, we need to understand that companies have several options when they are trying to recruit someone, and the rejection may not say anything about you as a person. You may have been rejected from the job, just because of their internal processes.

The only real way to deal with rejection from a job is to work on any feedback they may have given you. If they haven’t given feedback, do not start assuming things like how you answered a particular question, or if your body language was alright. These unproductive thoughts would only add to your misery, because these are assumptions you are making about a situation you have no way of learning more about.

So, calmly accept the rejection from the job as a part of the journey, and move on.

How do deal with rejection in sales?

The first thing that we need to understand about sales is that it is a process of solving a customer problem. If your product or service is solving a problem for the consumer, they are likely to make a decision to buy. If it doesn’t at the current time, they won’t buy it.

It is quite foolish and not quite conscientious to try and sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo because they don’t need it. Try to solve real problems through the process of sales.

If you get constantly rejected in the selling process, you need to understand if your product or service has demand in the market or if you are differentiated from your competition. If the consumer has 10 identical products to buy just like your product, it is unlikely the sale would happen. Therefore, if you constantly get rejected in sales, it is a business problem, and you need to deal with professionally and not personally. It is not about you.

In Conclusion- How to deal with rejection

Rejection happens to all of us and it is part of the normal course of life. Rejection is hard because quite often, we don’t know why we have been rejected. However, the framework in this post can help anyone how to deal with rejection without causing self-harm. I hope this is helpful for anyone who is trying to learn how to handle rejection.

Thank you for reading.

Author, Stand Up Comedian. Trying to make people happier, one post, one show a time.