Rejection shows up in a myriad of ways. At times it rolls in thunderously loud and in our faces, unearthing years or even generations worth of pain and trauma in a moment. At other times, in the guise of silence, subtly and "not that big of a deal," it can take up space in our hearts, slowing our pace far longer than we realize.
Whatever the reason it makes an entrance, it's always (at least a little) painful. But a check system can help mitigate the pain and potential self-inflicted damage rejection may cause. When processed in a healthy way, rejection points us away from closed doors and lights our direction like a compass.
Here are 7 healthy ways to process rejection.
1) Be honest with yourself about the pain it's causing. If it's causing pain, don't be afraid to admit that to yourself.
2) Gauge the severity of the pain the best you can. Use a scale - 1-10 or a percentage 10%-100% - and ask yourself where the pain falls. This will help you put the pain and the encounter in perspective.
3) Self reflect. Ask yourself what brought this experience into your orbit. Be careful to ask this from a place of self-improvement, righting behavior etc., instead of from a place of self-criticism. We are all imperfect creatures doing our best to live our best lives. Remember that.
4) Consider the alternative. Maybe the rejection was never even about you. Maybe a person failed to see your spectacular inner being because they are insecure about their own. Maybe that job announcement was mere formality, because a friend of a friend of the owner was already in line for it and not being asked in for an interview had nothing to do with your talent or skills. Maybe that deal fell through because the agent wasn't being honest about all the details.
Count the ways. There are always plenty.
5) Right the wrong. After using discernment, decide if addressing the person or group, etc. that rejected you is worth it. For instance, I was speaking at a fair once when most the members on the panel cut me off mid sentence with sighs and grunts, indicating I didn't know what I was talking about. And then they quickly moved onto another topic. I waited for an opening in the discussion and redirected them and the audience back to my point to finish it. It wasn't about being right or wrong - I deserved to, at least, complete my thought. And given the nods of agreement garnered from the audience, it seemed many needed to hear what I had to say.
6) Use it as a compass. After all, this is the point of rejection in the first place - to point us away from closed doors and light our direction.
So how do you do this? For bigger rejections, take it back to the beginning. If you were passed over for a job, for example, go back to the general idea of the type of job you're looking for and why; Rejected by a love interest? Return to the list of what your ideal mate is and how you want to feel in a relationship. You'll often find that the thing or person you were vying for is (no longer) in alignment, when either updating your lists or realizing those things or people didn't hold up.
For other occurrences of rejection, use your discernment as discussed in number 5 and address the situation or not, as you see fit. Sometimes the only opportunity for "righting the wrong" is in the moment but if not, a quick and dirty rule I saw somewhere can be used: If it still bothers you in 24 hours, say something in 48 hours.
7) Let it go. Whatever strategy used to process rejection, at some point the only healthy thing left to do is to let it go. If you weren't able to say what you needed to, you can first talk it out as if that person or group is there. Then tell rejection a quick, thank you for illuminating the situation for you, that you've learned all you can from it and now you're letting it go. And know that you'll take whatever was gleaned from the experience into the next for a chance to navigate it all the better.