Rejection can feel so painful, but it doesn't have to. How would life be different for you if you had no fear of rejection? Life changed so much for the better for me when I learned how to lovingly manage rejection.
In this article, I'm referring to the kind of rejection that occurs socially -- at work, at parties and social gatherings. I'm not referring to someone you are in a relationship with leaving you. That is a different issue and needs to be managed differently than rejection from casual friends, acquaintances or from people you don't even know.
1. Let Go of Rejecting/Judging Yourself
One of the most painful aspects of rejection is not actually the other person's rejection, but what you tell yourself about it. Tune in and see if you are rejecting and judging yourself by making any of the following judgments toward yourself:
- What did I do wrong?
- What's wrong with me?
- I'm just not good enough. I'm not okay.
- I'm not attractive enough.
- I'm not smart enough.
- I'm not successful enough.
- I'm not interesting enough.
- I'm weird. I'm too different.
And so on...
If you start to pay attention to what you are telling yourself when someone rejects you, you can also start to notice that your painful feelings have much more to do with how you are treating yourself than with what is happening with the other person.
2. Stop Making Their Behavior About You
Most of the time, when someone rejects someone else, it's because something is going on within them. What is likely going on is that they are rejecting themselves in some way and then projecting that on to you. They may be rejecting something they assume about you, that they are also rejecting in themselves. Or, perhaps they aren't feeling well, they slept badly, they ate too much sugar or junk food, or they are just plain cranky. Whatever the reason they are being rejecting, it's not about you!
Just as someone else cannot cause you to be an accepting person or a rejecting person, you cannot cause another person to be accepting or rejecting. We each decide who we want to be, each moment, and others have very little to do with our choice. Believing that you cause others to be rejecting is giving yourself more power over others than you have! You do not control who others choose to be. Not taking others' behavior personally will be very helpful to you in lovingly managing rejection.
3. Imagine That the Person Being Rejecting is a Small Child Acting Out
When people are connected with themselves -- with their heart and soul -- they are kind and caring with themselves and others. When they are disconnected from themselves -- which means that they are abandoning themselves -- they can act out in mean and even violent ways. It helps me to visualize the disconnected person, not as an adult, but as an abandoned and acting out child. When I visualize this angry and abandoned child, I can feel compassion for the person rather than anger or hurt.
4. Compassion for Yourself
Even if you are not judging yourself, and even if you don't take another's behavior personally, rejection never feels good. I always feel sad inside when someone -- even someone I don't know -- is being unloving to me or to someone else. My experience is that on the soul level we are all one, so when someone is mean, hurtful, withdrawn or in some other way rejecting, it hurts my heart. I put my hands on my heart and acknowledge the sadness of one human being acting unloving to another human being. It's just sad to me for people to treat each other badly, and by acknowledging the sadness and loneliness of it, I give my sad feelings the room to move through me. It doesn't take long for them to move through, and then I can move on without any residue.
This is what works really well for me, in managing rejection. I hope it works for you!
Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."
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