Whether you’ve been knocked back by your crush, turned down for a promotion or told that your best just wasn’t good enough – rejection sucks.
Feeling like you haven’t made the cut can be an extremely painful experience, no matter the circumstances.
While well-meaning friends and relatives may tell you “just put it behind you and move on to the next thing!” we know it can be easier said than done. So, read on for our practical guide to getting over it faster — so you can go on with your daily life without collapsing into a heap of tears or punching a window. But first, let’s look at WHY it stings so damn much to be told ‘thanks but no thanks.’
The Science Behind Getting Rejected
It turns out that if you’ve cried or felt especially depressed after receiving a rejection letter, you’re not being a drama queen. Science tells us we are hardwired to take rejection to heart!
As part of an experiment, scientists recruited forty people who had recently experienced rejection as the result of a romantic break up. They were shown a picture of their ex and asked to mentally focus on the relationship breakdown. MRI scans showed that reliving this rejection activated the same areas of their brain that responded to physical pain. The findings showed that social rejection and physical pain are interpreted by our somatosensory brain systems as being similar – so it’s no wonder we say that rejection hurts!
Guy Winch P.H.D, psychologist and author, explains it like this. Way back in B.C times (when we were all living in caves and the only thing that was ‘lit’ was literally fire), being excluded from your community was tantamount to a death sentence. You would not survive without the teamwork and protection of your tribe to back you up. The negative feelings associated with rejection became part of our ‘survival mode’. Feeling rejected was a warning sign to either stop doing a certain behavior or risk getting kicked out of the community.
So yeah, you’re right to be feeling a bit cut. But that doesn’t mean you can’t actively take steps to move on from it — for your sake and the sake of your friends who can’t handle hearing you over-analyze the situation one more time.
What to Do When It Feels Like Your Heart Has Just Exploded
So now we’ve established that as human beings, we’re supposed to experience negative feelings in response to a rejection. Unfortunately, the REAL damage comes after this initial emotional pain – and that’s the damage that we inflict upon ourselves. We tell ourselves that we’ve got no talent; that we were stupid to apply for a new role in the first place. We tell ourselves that we’re not hot enough, and if we only looked more like *insert the name of an incredibly photoshopped Instagram model here* then we could get a date. Negative self-talk like this is not constructive. You’re essentially kicking yourself while you’re down, which is the last thing you need right now! What you really need is a healthy dose of the following:
Resilience: This rejection is an opportunity to become more resilient. They say smooth seas never made a skillful sailor. If you never have to deal with being knocked back in life, the slightest rejection is going to really mess with your head. Don’t let this rejection make you feel like you are worthless. It’s in the past now, so learn from it and move right along with your life.
Connection: Maybe your feelings towards someone aren’t reciprocated, or you were made to feel like you weren’t part of social group. This doesn’t automatically mean that you’re unloved and disliked by everyone you know! If feelings of rejection are coming from one corner of your life, it’s time to turn to another. I highly recommend a three-way Facetime with your best friends, it always leaves me feeling like a new woman!
Self-care: Now is as good a time as any to practice some self-care. Real self-care isn’t about spending hundreds of dollars on face-masks and pillow mist. It’s about taking time to do small, practical things that make us feel good as well.
To quote Homer Simpson, the most well-meaning and simultaneously misguided father of our generation – “Kids, you tried your best, and you failed miserably. The lesson is – never try”. The only sure-fire way to avoid feeling rejected is to never try at anything at all, and that’s no way to live your best life! Dust yourself off and get back to being the Queen that you are.
And if all else fails — next time you’re rejected, make like Vanjie from Ru Paul’s Drag Race and simply repeat your own name over and over again while sashaying backwards out of the room.
Featured image via unsplash.com.
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