Applying for a new job. Swiping right on a potential match. Putting in an offer on a new home. Reaching out to a friend you haven’t heard from in a while. Proposing to your significant other.
These scenarios put you in a vulnerable position with generally one of two outcomes. You’ll either get the response you want, or you’ll be met with rejection. Many of us fear the latter outcome the most, as there is nothing about being rejected that feels good. We have a natural, emotional reaction to being rejected, which can complicate things because rejection is inevitable whether we like it or not. It’s a part of life, something we can experience when we begin to feel and understand our emotions.
Since you have to live with it and can never tell when it will hit, it may be worth understanding the concept of rejection, your body’s reaction to it, and how you can use that pain to your benefit. Chances are you can recognize when you’ve been rejected, but do you understand what happens after it sets in or why you feel how you feel after being rejected?
The Pain of Rejection
The concept of rejection sounds pretty straightforward. After you’ve been rebuffed, your body undergoes an emotional response that causes you to feel a perceived pain. That pain, mainly driven by social rejection, can lead to increased anger, depression, sadness, and anxiety. However, you may not realize that the pain associated with rejection is not dissimilar to the physical pain you may experience with a broken finger. Your brain will react similarly, releasing cortisol and adrenaline and shifting your blood flow. This physical reaction causes symptoms like body aches and decreased appetite.
The reason our body reacts this way is mainly because of how much we rely on social acceptance. But there is a bit more to it, especially when you think of how much people, in general, value the opinions of others and use them as a means of validation.
Craving Acceptance and Overcoming Rejection
Just like our bodies crave food and water and will react negatively if neither is provided, our minds crave social interaction and acceptance. Without them, we undergo physical and psychological changes.
What’s important is that you don’t allow that rejection to cause you to spiral. You don’t have to sit with the pangs of guilt, sorrow, and regret that can come with rejection. There are a few things you can do to both use rejection to better yourself and minimize its effects.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
Regardless of where the rejection came from, you’re feeling it, and it’s real. Don’t try to bury the way you think. Instead, acknowledge your feelings and validate them. Talk about them with confidence and deal with the issue head-on.
Find the Opportunity to Grow and Learn
Take this experience and learn from it. Reflect on what may have happened and determine what you may be able to change for the future. For example, if you didn’t get a job you applied for, review your resume and see how you can change it. If you were rejected by a date, take a long look at the type of partner you’ve been pursuing and determine if you should change.
Put the Rejection Into Perspective
One rejection does not guarantee another. Remember that just because one thing didn’t work out, it doesn’t mean another won’t as well. Also, consider why you were rejected. It’s possible it wasn’t an issue with you but an uncontrollable external factor.
If we feel good about ourselves and have high self-esteem, rejection won’t hurt as bad. Even when things go awry, talk yourself up rather than assign self-blame. Rejection doesn’t define you, but how you feel about yourself can.
An Inevitable Part of Life
Knowing that rejection is a part of life doesn’t make it easier to handle, but it does allow you to prepare yourself for when rejection may be a possibility. It would be best if you didn’t let rejection set you back. Instead, learn from what’s happened, put everything into perspective, and continue showing yourself self-love. You may mitigate the effects of rejection when you do experience rejection.