I think we’ve all probably felt the sting of rejection at least once. Whether it’s an implied sense of rejection when you’re too afraid to take a risk, or an outright rejection when you get up the courage – yikes – there’s no denying that it’s unpleasant.
Unfortunately, there’s not too much you can do to avoid the risk of rejection – as much as we might try to keep our expectations reasonable, it’s pretty difficult to completely separate ourselves from the “no” we’ve heard (or imagined).
Listen, guys – I’ve probably been rejected more times than I can count. Up until relatively recently, I’ve lacked the baseline self-confidence levels necessary to sustain a healthy relationship.
As much as we’d like to fake it sometimes, it’s painfully obvious when you’re looking for a relationship out of desperation. This cycle of fear, doubt, and self-blame tends to make matters even worse, and it takes a good amount of self-discovery to get past it the first few times.
Thankfully, once you’ve come to terms with what rejection really means, you can start to see that rejection is actually working toward your advantage – as long as you know how to deal with it.
It teaches you the power of perseverance.
I don’t know about you, but when I hear that I can’t do something, it makes me all the more dedicated to proving that person wrong. Of course, if it’s romantic rejection you’re facing, it might be worth it to dial back your efforts if they’re met with a “no”, but other areas of your life can definitely benefit from this little push.
Think of it as a bet you make with the other person. If you win, you’ve proven that you have what it takes. If you lose, you get to decide whether it’s truly important to you or not. Then, you’ll decide if it’s worth trying again, and maybe succeeding this time – or walking away and re-evaluating your priorities. Which means, in the long run, you still win.
It reminds you to stay humble.
There’s not a single person on earth who hears “yes” every time… Unless they’re never pushing themselves. (Trust me, that’s not something you want to strive for.) This blow to your ego might hurt, but it makes you stronger, because you’re forced to remember that you can’t possibly be amazing at everything. It wouldn’t be fair if you won every time. It brings you to your knees to make you grateful for how tall you stood.
Okay, so in the midst of the rejection pain, all that “humble” nonsense might as well be another language. It doesn’t feel good to be humbled; it’s not until after the fact that you realize just how good it is to be grounded. First, you’ve got to recover from the sting of hitting the ground. Then, you can remember that it’s not about you not being good enough – it’s about you not being the right fit. Just be patient with yourself if it’s hard to admit at first.
It teaches you grace.
So maybe grace isn’t exactly what you want right now – but it’s something you need. Rejection brings a reminder that bitterness won’t change anything, and neither will desperation. (If you’ve ever tried to bargain with someone who’s rejected you, I’m sure you know what I mean.) Rejection teaches you how to say, Hey, this didn’t work out – and that’s okay.
If you’re looking for a sign that being a graceful loser makes all the difference, let’s go back to Al Gore’s concession speech in 2000. For those who aren’t from the US and/or don’t know what happened in 2000, basically, the US presidential ballot-counting got all screwed up somehow, and there was this big legal battle between George W. Bush and Al Gore. Eventually, Gore admitted defeat, and delivered this line in his speech:
“… No matter how hard the loss, defeat might serve as well as victory to shape the soul and let the glory out.”
This line in particular embodies the attitude we should all embrace when our expectations get shot down. It’s not about whether you win or lose, as long as you don’t forget your value and virtue along the way.
It helps you see how you should handle letting others down.
When you’ve dealt with the pain of rejection, you’re either going to get jaded, or develop empathy. You learn how to gracefully let others down, without sacrificing yourself – after all, you don’t want to feel even worse, and guilt would just mess everything up. You learn from the rejections you’ve received, and you mentally note the ones that didn’t hurt so much. The ones that tore you apart, you note to yourself, too.
When you examine the ways you’ve been rejected, you can better understand what’s fair and what’s not far. Those who get jaded and bitter will know that what they’re doing is cruel, and it may cause guilt. Those who develop empathy will do their best to make sure they don’t hurt others the way they’ve been hurt. And if we could just all cultivate a little more empathy, maybe rejection wouldn’t have to be so stigmatized.