Handling A “No” Gracefully


Sylvia Plath once said, “I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.” Thank you Sylvia! What a wonderful way to reframe rejection! Imagine the pain we would avoid, if only we viewed rejection as proof of our courageousness and evidence of our self-investment?

Positive psychology aside, rejection is one of the most painful experience we can encounter. Rejection hurts so much because it triggers our deepest abandonment wounds. Per tests conducted by MRI machines, scientists found that brains actually processes rejection the same way as we do physical pain. This may be why, upon first being rejected, we act in "fight or flight" mode, feeling attacked - our heart starts pounding, we feel butterflies in our stomach, we may even start to sweat.

Think about your last experience with rejection. Maybe a beloved broke your heart? Perhaps you didn’t get accepted for the job you wanted so badly? As humans we are conditioned to fear and aggressively avoid rejection as it links to evolutionary psychology. In our hunter/gatherer past, being rejected resulted in being ostracized from our tribes. This was akin to a death sentence, as we were unlikely to survive for long alone.

Did you know that dealing with rejection is the most common emotional wound we sustain in daily life? Rejection hits all is us at some point. And the worst part of rejection is the self-inflicted pain we internalize. When our self-esteem is negatively triggered through rejection, it is so common to become obsessively self-critical and feel defeated.

The good news is that there is a way to bounce back from rejection. Furthermore, we can even utilize our experiences to learn valuable lessons about ourselves in the process. Below please see my tips on how you can handle a “no” gracefully. If you are dealing with feelings of rejection, I send you wishes of peace and perseverance. Never doubt that our wounds can give us our greatest lessons of wisdom. Let’s support each other in utilizing rejection to move forward with greater compassion and self-awareness.

5 Tips on Handling A ‘No’ With Grace:

1. Treat Yourself With Compassion

Are you guilty of trying to tough it out and power through heavy emotions? Rejection is so hard, whether you were turned down for a date, a job or experienced a significant heartbreak. Have compassion for yourself and don’t try to minimize the pain by convincing yourself--it was "no big deal." One of the most recommended strategies in handling rejection is to accept your uncomfortable feelings and treat yourself with compassion.

2. Slow Down

It can’t be acknowledged enough, nothing stings quite like rejection. Because the pain is so profound, we often want to immediately be in action and ‘do something.’ Slow down and give yourself time to feel,process and understand your emotions. Spending time devoted to healing and working through past issues and hurt, can give you valuable new information about the new future you want to create. Quite often when we rush to communicate with those who hurt us in the heat of anger, we end up saying things that we regret. Slow down and process your emotions before communicating with those who hurt you.

3. Acknowledge Your Courage

If you are ambitious or want to accomplish anything extraordinary, you need to risk failure in order to succeed. If you do research on anyone who’s accomplished anything and you’ll soon discover, they failed. Often they experienced rejection multiple times. After a failure, acknowledge your courage and ability to work towards something meaningful. Remember that constantly playing it safe will stifle our ability to grow. Acknowledge your courage and don’t give up.

4. Avoid Regretting the Past

After experiencing a rejection, it’s very common to perseverate and over analyze our past actions. Sound familiar? If you are in analysis paralysis, please remember that everything is a learning process. Mistakes, experiencing rejection and getting a ‘no’ give use invaluable opportunities to learn about what works (and what doesn’t!). Don’t regret the past. But use your experience to grow, gain self-awareness and make new choices. And to quote Lewis Carroll, “In the end… We only regret the chances we didn’t take.”

5. Find Support

Acknowledging your painful feelings and talking about them with a reputable mental health professional and/or a trusted loved one can help you begin to move beyond your painful emotions. Talking it out helps as:

1.) It is reassuring to feel understood and experience empathy. 2.) Putting your feelings into words is a great way to release energy and self-soothe.

After experiencing rejection, it is so important to surround yourself with people that genuinely love and care about you. It is always harder to go through tough times alone. Therefore, gather or create a support team of trusted professionals and loved ones.

Can you relate to this post? If yes, please send me an email and let's set up a complimentary phone call. Sending you peaceful thoughts and wishes for brighter days.

#rejection #coping #selflove

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