We reject things on a daily basis -- we reject items we don't want, ideas we don't like and opportunities we don't see fit. Rejection is as much a part of our world as is approval. It drives a healthy system of competition and ensures a high standard of quality. But what happens when we as human beings reject each other?
Rejection comes as one of the most brutal stakes to the heart because it deals a direct blow to our ego. The ego is the inherent part of the self which holds intact our pride, esteem and self-worth. When the ego is bruised, a core element of our being is damaged. We often feel reduced to a lesser versions of ourselves. We automatically begin to blame ourselves, assuming there must be something wrong with us and criticizing the behavior that led to our rejection.
Of the many forms of rejection, being denied by a love interest is most agonizing. We are grieved by a deep sense of bitterness and spite, both against the other person and against ourselves. Ironically, though, we feel an inexplicable sense of longing -- a stronger desire towards the rejecter than ever before. As a psychologist, I've seen many become stuck in a cycle of voluntary, unrequited love. The more they were rejected, the more they "wanted" the person rejecting them. They refused to give up. Whether this strange phenomenon stems from a prehistoric gene, or it's that we're slightly masochistic, is difficult to say. What's certain, however, is that rejection can cause cycles of unhealthy emotions and behavior.
The strange chemistries of the universe work thus -- the less you care about a person, the more they care about you. And the more you care about a person, the less they seemingly care about you. It is nothing short or ironic, and sadly, most anyone who's ever been in love can vouch. Understanding the chemistry of rejection begins with acknowledging our undeniable value as human beings. To change our perceived impression of rejection, we must first solidify our self-worth. Bear in mind these truths the next time you feel overwhelmed by rejection.
Don't take it so personally. The only reason we suffer the sting of rejection is because we feel emotionally attached to a person. Had we no emotions towards them, their rejection would mean nothing to us. Rejection becomes a burden we carry entirely on our shoulders -- we blame nobody but ourselves. We truly believe there must be something intrinsically wrong within us to cause a person to dismiss us. Yet oftentimes it has nothing to do with us. A person may be too busy, overburdened, or complicated to want to involve us in their lives. Remember that you never really know what goes on within someone's mind to draw conclusions for him or her.
It really isn't you. When somebody rejects you, they are acting on their own insecurities and fears. Take comfort in knowing that the person who rejects you is dealing with their own personal issues and that you most likely did nothing to cause their decision. Rejection -- especially harsh or cruel rejection -- is a manifestation of self-insufficiencies and a lack of self-tolerance.
It happened for a greater reason. When we feel rejected, we trap ourselves in a moment of doubt and distress. But we must learn to see past the fleeting period of pain and acknowledge that there is a higher purpose to not getting what (or whom) we want. That higher purpose is usually revealed in time. I've had many clients tell me that they felt awful when a love interest turned them away, only to find the perfect partner when they least expected it. When that happened they became grateful that they were rejected, or else they would've never met a new and better person. In retrospect, they laugh at the fits of emotions which rejection invoked. We all discover the greater purpose of our pain in due time.
This is not a new pain. Rejection can be a lifelong ordeal stemming from childhood. For some children who were abandoned by a parent, rejection becomes a recurring challenge to conquer throughout life. They may overreact when they feel turned them down and not know that this is caused by a subconscious memory. Understanding the primary source of rejection and the impact it had on you can help you deal with this unpleasant emotion. Accept that this is not the first or last time you'll feel the ache of rejection, but that you've defeated this emotion before and will emerge stronger from each instance.
They're really missing out. A person who rejects you cannot comprehend your inner and outer beauty. So why be with someone who doesn't see the full spectrum of your wonderful being? The next time you feel rejected, remind yourself of your amazing traits, your positive characteristics and your invaluable qualities which undoubtedly exist but may have been overlooked by someone else.
A chance to evolve. Rejection offers us an opportunity to evolve through and learn from our experiences. It allows us to look within and say, "Okay, maybe I can change this," or "Maybe I can fix that side of myself." After all, there is room for betterment in each of us, and sometimes it takes emotional anguish to be able to demolish the ego and come face to face with our truest self. If there is any constructive way to view rejection, it is through the lens of an earnest effort at self-improvement.
Rejection, as an ego-reducing emotion, is nothing short of painful. But viewing rejection as necessary and even positive will help you overcome it that much more easily. Recognize the hidden elements of this emotion as catalysts for productive change towards a better, stronger, more powerful you.
To resilience from rejection,
Dr. Carmen Harra
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