Let’s face it rejection sucks, and it hurts. Even just writing about this is creating an unpleasant feeling in the pit of my stomach. It is incredible how powerful brain’s association are that just a thought about a past experience can produce such a strong visceral reaction.
The most important thing, to begin with, is to remember that a feeling of rejection is subjective. What causes one person to feel rejected, might not at all make another feel that way. Our life experiences, especially in childhood, often alert us to whether we interpret something as rejection or just as an unfortunate experience. Also, some people are genetically predisposed to feel rejection more commonly and more intensely.
I feel like I fall into that category as I was always labeled as ‘sensitive’ and someone ‘taking things too personally.’ As such, through my life experience and learning, I came up with the three (3) concrete strategies for myself that help me get through these tough moments in life.
1. Just because you feel ‘bad’ does not mean you are ‘bad.‘ This one is the most important one! When I was younger, I would automatically jump to the conclusion that if I was feeling shabby, that implies that something is wrong with me. Thoughts like “I am not good enough,” “I failed,” “No one will like me,” would clutter my mind. In turn, saying these things to myself would make me feel even worse.
Now, I am very clear about separating my feeling and thoughts. I treat my feeling of emotional pain or discomfort like I would an injured leg or a blister, with care and compassion. I say to myself “This hurts right now. It needs time to heal. What can I do now to make myself more comfortable while the healing happens?”. You wouldn’t jump on an injured leg or pick on your blister to exasperate your pain. And so it logically follows that one shouldn’t pick on an emotional wound either.
2. I surround myself with people who support me. Since I decide that will not pick on my emotional wound, I don’t let others pick on it either. Following a rejection, I focus on spending my time with people who recognize my strengths, make me feel empowered and energized. I avoid people who suck my energy, who always complain about their lives and criticize others, and those who judge others based on the amount of possession they have, and degrees acquired. As I am healing my emotional wound, I want to around others who are genuine, authentic and encouraging.
3. I don’t ignore it, rather, I take care of it, so it heals faster. If I had a blister, I would put a band-aid on it, wear a comfortable set of shoes and walk a bit less for a few days. The same logic would apply to an emotional wound. I need to take care of it so it heals more quickly and to do that I would engage in things that make me feel good: watch an inspiring movie, browse TED talks, go to a Zumba class, master a new dish, or organize an event I have always been thinking about.
These just are a few of the things that recharge me. One self-care strategy that worked well for me is making a list of my strengths and skills and noting when things have worked out for me. At times of emotional ache, it is so easy to focus on the dark moments when things are not going our way and when we felt rejected. Making a conscious effort to look for exceptions to that, can jump start your road to recovery from the recent rejection bump.
With these three strategies in my hand, I can take more risks in life as I know what to do if I fall down.
Remember, that we are all you unique and what works for one person, might not work for another. You might have your different strategies that work magic for you. And if you don’t and still trying to figure out how to ‘get back up after you fall down’, I recommend exploring external and unbias guidance from a therapist, a coach or a mentor can help you get there faster. Don’t let life bumps slow you down!
Your Expat Therapist,