#Askingforafriend: How to handle rejection
By Nate Bowman
GCU Office of Student Care
What’s the best way to handle rejection?
Rejection stings. That imagined future you spent hours daydreaming about suddenly comes crumbling down like a sandcastle in the rising tide. Whether it’s not making the team, a breakup or being told you didn’t get the job, rejection wasn’t what you were hoping for and it hurts.
One reason rejection can hurt so badly is because we personalize it. After being rejected, maybe you’ve thought something like this: “They didn’t choose me because I’m not good enough.” This can lead to all sorts of undue suffering and unwanted outcomes:
- Depression: If I’m not good enough, then why try? What’s the point?
- Anxiety: If I’m not good enough, what if I never make it? I can’t make any more mistakes!
- Addiction: If I’m not good enough, I’m going to escape.
Might there be another way to interpret the situation, though? Taking the rejection personally is likely going to be the knee-jerk reaction for a lot of us, but consider alternative interpretations.
For example, she turned you down when you asked her out. Rather than quickly concluding that you’re unlovable, try exploring one or two alternatives. Maybe she’s dedicated to her career and doesn’t want to date anyone for several years. Or maybe in the past she went through a really painful breakup and doesn’t feel ready to venture into the dating world yet.
Chances are that the rejection has more to do with the rejector than the rejected, but we make it about ourselves and suffer as a result.
Acknowledge the pain of rejection with a trusted friend, name your feelings, consider alternative interpretations and ask for support when you need it. Because when that imagined and hoped-for future fades, it hurts, but you don’t have to prolong the suffering.