Whether it’s being ghosted by a Tinder match or losing out on that dream job, rejection is an inevitable part of life. It can be hard not to take being turned down personally, but there will usually be numerous factors and circumstances beyond our control that mean that the answer can’t always be yes.
While spending a few days sulking can help, coping well with rejection is an important life skill that will set you up to better handle future disappointments. Honing an ability to pick yourself up and try again is crucial to achieving your goals. Next time that you get knocked back, remember this:
1. That being rejected shows that you had the courage to put yourself forward
You’ve been rejected? Congratulations! The fact that you have even been turned down in the first place shows that you were brave enough to put yourself forward for something that was difficult to achieve—and that doing so takes a tremendous amount of courage and self-belief.
When you get rejected, take some time to remember the challenges that you overcame by going for that job interview, asking for a pay rise, or putting yourself out there on a dating app. Striving for what you wanted is still a success, regardless of whether or not it ultimately leads to rejection.
2. That rejection happens to everyone
Even the seemingly most successful among us will have struggled with rejection at some stage. Don’t believe me? Check out this list of celebrities who were rejected by other celebs, or this one of famous people who failed before they succeeded. If Oprah can pick herself up after getting fired from her first TV job or Vera Wang can launch a fashion empire after being passed over for Vogue’s editor-in-chief position, then you can bounce back from rejection too.
3. That some factors that lead to rejection are out of our control
Perhaps you spent hours on that job application. Maybe you thought that things were going really, really well with that person that you were dating. You might have been convinced that that presentation to land an important new client was perfect.
Your performance, skills, and personal attributes will only ever be part of the story. There could simply have been someone else who was better suited to that job opening. That person you were seeing just might not have had the space in their life for a relationship right now. The other client could have offered a cheaper rate that your company couldn’t beat. Instead of internalizing rejection, remember that many of the factors that contributed to it were likely unknowable and out of your control.
4. Why you had the opportunity in the first place
The more that we strive for difficult-to-achieve things, the more we open ourselves up to rejection. Try and view this setback as evidence that you are pushing your limits and coming closer to the things that you want to achieve.
Focus on the small successes that you experienced on the way to rejection—perhaps you can celebrate that you landed an audition in the first place, or that you had opened yourself up to getting to know someone new. Take stock of the strengths that you demonstrated rather than the reasons for the rejection, and work on refining and showcasing them the next time that you get a new opportunity.
5. What you can learn from the experience
Although it might take time to be able to view a rejection as a learning opportunity, it can be valuable to attempt to understand the reasons why you were turned down. For career rejections, you should ask for feedback so that you’re prepared when another opportunity presents itself. Meet with the decision-maker to ask them areas that you performed well in, and what ultimately motivated their choice.
Romantic rejections can also be a chance to learn about yourself and what you want from a relationship. Is it losing the chance to be with that person that hurts, or the rejection itself that is painful? Would you change anything about the situation given the chance, or did the rejection come from being true to yourself and what you want in a partner? Try journaling your thoughts or discussing them with a friend or therapist to learn about your own emotions when it comes to rejection, and how you can be better placed to deal with it in future.
6. What you still have to offer
Rejection can be a blow to self-esteem and confidence. Avoid becoming too caught up in negative emotions by focusing on what you have to offer. Make a list of all of the best things about you and the reasons why you were hopeful for success in the first place. Revisit this every time that you doubt yourself or fear rejection as a reminder that you deserve a shot.
7. That fearing rejection will hold you back
A fear of rejection can easily become what stops us from asking out someone we really like, applying for a dream job or internship, or attempting to achieve our goals. That emotion that you’re feeling right now? Really feel it. Get comfortable with it. Remember that it isn’t the worst feeling in the world. Learning to be OK with rejection will set you up for success in the future. There will be a time when the answer is yes. Make sure that you’re ready when it comes.