If Dr. Phil is right to say that rejection is the number one fear among human beings, then love rejection, ranking at the top of all rejection-based fears, is the queen of all horrors.
Think about this for a second. Fear of love rejection ranks higher than the fear of starving to death, the fear of being eaten by a wild beast, or the fear of being the victim of a violent crime.
As fears go, those are potent enough, and having your heart broken by someone who rejects your love doesn’t actually kill you (usually). So, why does it rank at number one?
There was a time when rejection and its consequent exclusion meant certain (or expected) death, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that being rejected feels like a kind of death.
Love rejection cuts the deepest and consumes us from the inside out. No wonder we fear it so much.
And the more we fear something, the more we focus on it.
Part of learning how to deal with rejection is recognizing that; another part is learning how to use it.
Getting over rejection is a process — like grieving — and it’s not a quick and easy one. But it is possible to heal and even to thrive after being rejected. You can overcome rejection and experience joy again.
You can learn how to handle rejection in a way that makes you stronger and happier in the long-run.
- By acknowledging that you’ve been hurt by the rejection
- By accepting the pain as something you can both survive and use to your benefit
- By pivoting and focusing your attention on something that lights you up inside
- By asserting that you are enough and that you have the ability to heal and grow
- By stepping out of your comfort zone and contributing to the happiness of others
If you’re dealing with rejection right now, it might seem impossible to recover from it.
But, for starters, think about this question: Why does it hurt so much?
Why does rejection feel so painful?
Being rejected by a potential employer can feel personal enough. But when you expose your heart to someone only to be rejected, it feels as though the best part of you — the thing that makes you who you are — has been cast off as worthless.
Someone just told you that your love is worth nothing to them, or it’s not worth sticking around for, or it’s not worth taking any real risks or taking their time or attention away from something else.
Whatever you are to them, you’re not enough. And it’s easy to let that message take root.
Whatever reason you had for exposing your heart to this person — you fell in love, you looked up to her and wanted her love and approval, you saw him as your mentor and hoped he would care enough to guide you and make you a better person — it doesn’t matter anymore.
Because you don’t matter enough to someone who, for however long, was the center of your universe. The house you built in your heart with the person who rejected you at the center of it has come crashing down. And you are the ruin he (or she) left behind.
This is not something you should expect to get over in a hurry.
How to Deal with Rejection
Now for the good news: this is not the end.
Things will get better (how could they not?). You will heal if you allow yourself to. You will have better days. You can still have an amazing and beautiful life.
Don’t waste time hoping the one who left you for dead will meet a grisly or depressing end. Focus on the better life you want for yourself and the people you love, and tell yourself that whatever happens to so-and-so is not your business.
Focus on your business.
The process begins with self-nurturing. Give yourself permission to grieve what you thought you had with this person — or what you used to have.
At some point, you’ll be faced with a choice: to forgive the one who rejected your love (and didn’t love you back) and move on, or to hold onto that pain and resentment and remain stuck.
If you give yourself the gift of forgiveness and allow yourself to let go of your resentment and bitterness, there’s no reason you can’t turn the pain of this rejection into fuel for growth and a door to greater happiness.
If you’re not yet ready to say, “I forgive this person,” go through the steps that follow, get yourself into a better headspace, and tell yourself you’re at least open to the idea that you’ll forgive the one who rejected you, so you can heal and grow into the person you want to be.
It starts with you.
1. Give yourself a vote of confidence.
Remind yourself that you are enough. Write the words “I am enough” where you’ll see them every day. You need to see them, and it also helps to say the words out loud.
Related: Confidence Building Activities To Improve All Aspects Of Your Life
You don’t have to shout them; just let yourself hear your own voice saying it with conviction.
Tell yourself that you have the power to heal and to make your life better than ever in the wake of this rejection. Because you do.
2. Put that energy to better use.
Take on a new exercise routine or join a class. Get physical and give yourself the gift of daily exercise (if only a brief workout) to get your body moving, your blood pumping, and your brain juices flowing.
This is a healthy way to cope with the pain, and it’s more effective than drugs (physician-prescribed or otherwise). It can also be addictive, thanks to the release of dopamine you get from enjoyable physical activity.
3. Take care of yourself.
Give your body and your mind what they need, especially when you’re in recovery. Do something that calms, nourishes, or restores you.
Don’t neglect your personal hygiene or tell yourself, even in subtle ways, that you don’t deserve the attention to your needs and desires. Now more than ever, you need to remind yourself that you and your needs and desires matter. Maybe you can’t meet all of them, but show yourself the love you need right now.
- Get a good night’s sleep (every night).
- Stay hydrated.
- Give your body the nourishment it needs, so it won’t go looking for it in the wrong places.
- Keep yourself feeling clean and fresh.
- Keep your clothes clean and fresh.
- Buy that special shampoo or shower gel with a scent that invigorates or calms you.
- Take yourself out for a coffee (or tea) and a scenic walk.
Take the time to nurse yourself as you process the hurt. Your well-being is worth the investment.
4. Focus on something outside yourself.
While you’re in recovery, remember that others are in pain, too. Others have experienced what you’re now experiencing. And you might be able to alleviate someone else’s suffering as you deal with your own.
It can be something as simple as a phone call or email to check on someone, or a small, thoughtful gift you know someone would appreciate. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. Look for ways to lighten someone’s load or warm the heart of someone who is lonely.
You can also volunteer your time to serve others in need in some capacity: helping out in a soup kitchen or food shelf, babysitting for a single mother, dog-walking for an injured or sick friend, shoveling the driveway for an elderly neighbor, etc.
Loving your neighbor is a great way to begin healing from love rejection. Keep the love flowing outward, and keep your heart open to receive it.
5. Stretch yourself (learn something new).
Another way to focus outward and step outside your comfort zone is to learn a new skill, a new language, or a new hobby. You can also travel and explore new places. Try new foods and learn how to make your favorites from each place you visit.
Why not decide to do at least one new thing every week — just to shake things up and learn something you wouldn’t learn otherwise. Who knows what it could lead to?
New skills can lead to new growth opportunities that you’re not yet aware of. Those can in turn lead you to new opportunities to contribute in a meaningful way, as you gain a clearer picture of the person you want to be and grow in that direction.
6. Meet new people — but don’t be in a hurry to date.
Broken hearts don’t heal by withdrawing; don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and get acquainted with new people. Learn how to start a conversation with someone new, so you can both enjoy those conversations more.
Don’t be in a hurry to date, though — much less to jump into a new, exclusive relationship. Before you even consider that option, give yourself the chance to enjoy your own company and to focus on what you really want in a relationship — not what you hope you never have to experience again.
Give yourself time to heal from the hurt of love rejection before you go looking for love again.
Otherwise, you’ll approach dating in “escape mode”; your goal will be to escape the pain of your rejection and loss.
You’ll be too busy telling yourself, “I don’t want that to ever happen to me again, and I don’t want to think about how much it hurts,” to be fully invested in getting to know the new person or to act in anyone’s best interest.
You’ll be using the new “love interest” as a numbing agent, and those relationships rarely end well.
7. Retrain your brain (CBT or NLP).
It’s hard not to dwell on the pain of the rejection you’ve suffered — especially when you’re alone or when you’re talking about it with someone else.
As painful as it is, your brain wants to revisit it again and again, because you spend time thinking about how horrible it is and how you never want to go through it again.
Instead of using food or new romantic encounters to change the way you feel, why not try a therapy that helps you retrain your brain.
By choosing different thought patterns and reinforcing them through CBT therapy or NLP audio (or both), you can change the way you feel without becoming dependent on new or comforting sensory experiences.
Therapies involving CBT or NLP — with a counselor/guide or in the context of a supportive social group — can build your self-confidence and help you overcome insecurity or resentment. They can change the way you see yourself and what you need and expect from others.
When you learn to expect good things from yourself, you set the right stage for your next relationship.
Resources for Coping With Rejection
As part of your self-care package, you might include resources created just for those handling rejection. Maybe you’re looking for a book, or maybe you’d prefer to meet with a counselor or connect with other rejection overcomers online.
Since rejection is something we all suffer at some point and would prefer to avoid, if you look for books and articles on the subject, you might be overwhelmed by the available options. So, it never hurts to get recommendations from someone who wants you to heal and become happier.
Let’s start with books.
Books That Can Help
If you’re looking for a book that will speak to your pain and help you overcome it, spend some time with one or more of the following practical and insightful books:
- Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely, by Lysa TerKeurst
- Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection, by Jia Jiang
- Rejection Reset: Restore Social Confidence, Reshape Your Inferior Mindset, and Thrive in a Shame-Free Lifestyle (2nd ed), by Scott Allan
Online Counseling Services
If you want more than a book to read, and you’d like to connect with others who are either dealing with rejection or trained to help those who are, consider the following online services:
What more do you need?
Whatever you choose to do first, please do something for yourself today. Don’t allow the negative feelings associated with rejection to take over your life and keep you stuck.
Read one of the books mentioned in this article or sign up for therapy. Begin the process of healing by listening to yourself, giving yourself what you need, and doing what you can to grow and contribute to the growth and happiness of others.
Don’t let rejection be the death of you. Let it be the catalyst for your rebirth and regeneration. Become the stronger and more dynamic person you were always meant to be. Explore your own character arc, and steer it in a direction that excites you and will inspire others.
Because you can. And because you deserve it.
And may your courage and resilience influence everything else you do today.