The Pangs of Rejection and Overcoming the Inevitable

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.

All of these scenarios put you in a very vulnerable position with generally one of two outcomes. You’ll either get the response you want, or you’ll be met with rejection. It’s the latter outcome that many of us fear 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, whether we like it or not, rejection is inevitable. It’s a part of life, something we can experience the moment we begin to feel and understand our emotions.

Since you have to live with it and can never really tell when it’s going to 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 fairly straightforward. After you’ve been rebuffed, your body undergoes an emotional response that causes you to feel a perceived pain. That pain, especially when caused by social rejection, can lead to increased anger, depression, sadness, and anxiety. 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. It’s this physical reaction that causes symptoms like body aches and decreased appetite.

The reason our body reacts this way is largely 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 are 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 being rejected. 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 feel. 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. 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 make a 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 very possible it wasn’t an issue with you but an uncontrollable external factor.

Practice Self-Love

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. You mustn’t let rejection set you back. 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.

Post COVID-19

What Will The New Normal Look Like?

It seems like a lifetime ago when we could freely roam about our communities without worries of catching a deadly virus. Life is certainly more unpredictable these days with the COVID-19 pandemic running its course. It used to be that we’d wake up and know fairly well how our day was going to go. We had the security of a job, a fairly good assurance of coming home without any type of virus, and a routine that helped us feel stable.

However, since COVID-19, we’re living in a world where fear and panic have risen to the surface, with many people struggling to cope each day.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), fear and panic are defined as intensified or excessive fear launched by something specific. Panic is defined as intense or paralyzing fear that tends to come on suddenly.

Life as normal changed when our everyday lives were hit with COVID-19. No longer could we wake up and use our freedom to engage in work or our communities as we pleased. No longer could we face each day with a certainty that we and our loved ones would be alright. The underlying emotion in most homes has become fear and panic.

Effects On Mental Health Workers

As a psychotherapist working in a hospital, I’ve witnessed the direct effects COVID-19 has had on health care workers. A co-worker shared with me how challenging it’s been for her to watch patients suffer alone. In one instance, she had a patient quarantined with the virus. His family was not allowed in the room to see him, so she moved his bed by the window so he could see them as he talked to them on the phone.
The grief and fear healthcare workers are carrying can become quite heavy at times. They are courageously stepping it up to care for those that fall ill, all-the-while trying to practice self-care.

COVID-19 And Generalized Anxiety

When someone experiences persistent, intense worry, it’s diagnosed as Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It could very well be that most of the world is experiencing these symptoms directly due to the pandemic.
Anxiety, fear, and panic have set the stage for communities to begin living life in a different, self-distancing, isolated way. All of us have had to change our routines and make life adjustments that we hope will keep ourselves and our families safe.

To date, statistics report that almost four million people have COVID-19 around the world. Over 265,000 have died. The tragedy of loss behind the numbers is huge. The grief that cries out around the globe monstrous. All the while, most people continue to struggle with the same questions.

  • When will this be over?
  • Will I be alright? Will my family be alright?
  • What if I get sick?
  • Will I get my job back?
  • How am I going to recover from this?
  • What will life be like after the pandemic?

Moving forward, it will be important that all of us try to cultivate a new sense of normal. A sense of stability post COVID-19.   

Preparing For Life After The Virus

Most people want to get back to work and a sense of normalcy. They’re eager to get back to a routine with some stability. Routines help us feel stable and help bring a calming to our emotions. For children, parents can help them prepare for going back to school or being at home without parents when they return to work by keeping routine and structure in place at home during the pandemic. Children tend to thrive better when there are schedules and consistency. 

For adults, practicing self-care is essential. With the excess free time we’re experiencing, be sure to fill that time with things that nurture yourself. Get plenty of sleep. Take time to exercise. Do things that you enjoy. It’s easy to let boredom in the cracks, so consciously take on each day as it comes, engaging in meaningful tasks for yourself and with your loved ones. 

Hope For Life Post COVID-19

There will be a day when the pandemic is over. Keep that in mind. People will return to work. Children will return to school or daycare. The economy will startup again. Offer gratitude for what will be once again in the near future, as well as for all the good in your life right now. Enjoy the simple things right under your nose. 

In the grand scheme of things, it is an opportune time to evaluate our values and priorities. We have some time to reflect on what’s most important to us, as well as learn valuable lessons along the way regarding health, relationships with loved ones, community, and life in general.