Talking to a close friend or family member about the experience of rejection may be helpful, but some individuals who are more sensitive to rejection and those who experience frequent rejection or exclusion may find it more difficult to move past the pain.
Therapy may allow people who are deeply impacted by rejection to explore and work through their feelings, allowing them to build self-esteem and confidence as well as meaningful connections with others.
Sometimes, rejection can have severe consequences, such as depression, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation. These conditions can be addressed and treated in therapy, and a therapist may also be able to help an individual to explore potential reasons for rejection and work to achieve personal improvement in these areas.
Some individuals may internalize the pain of rejection, believing that there is something wrong with them, but others might externalize it, believing that the fault lies with those who have rejected them. Chronic feelings of rejection may lead to extreme responses, such as aggression. These behaviors may have the effect of further isolating an individual, but they can also have a negative effect on others. Discussing one's feelings with a therapist can help prevent these harmful behaviors.
Rejection can be frustrating and lead to self-doubt and internal distress, and therapy can help an individual address these issues. Further, a person who is continually rejected may find therapy to be helpful in the exploration of potential reasons for chronic rejection. Individuals who fear further rejection or desire help in moving past a previous rejection may find that a mental health professional can help and support them through this process.
Counseling may benefit couples in which rejection issues affect one or both partners. It may also be of help when rejection is experienced within the relationship. One partner may be unaware of how certain behaviors make the other partner feel rejected, and therapy can help uncover the underlying reasons for the behavior. When an individual is aware of these behaviors, therapy can still help address the underlying reasons and support the couple as they work through any issues in their relationship and address any issues that may have arisen in the relationship or on a personal level. Find a couples counselor here.
Those who find themselves rejected often may become distressed or frustrated. They may begin to reject themselves, believing that they are not good enough for others or that they will never succeed. Though it may be difficult to cope with rejection, especially when it seems as if it is frequent, it may be helpful to:
- Acknowledge the event and accept that it was painful. Rejection is a common experience, and pain and distress are normal responses.
- Express feelings verbally, to one's self or others. This can help clarify the event and facilitate understanding of why one was rejected.
- Avoid dwelling on the event, as this can lead to self-blame and may make it difficult to move forward after being rejected.
- Use facts to understand rejection. Avoid self-blame or negative thoughts about the self.
- Reach out to friends or family members. Positive social interactions can provide natural pain relief.
- Engage in physical activity, as exercise can often relieve the pain of rejection.
Individuals with lower self-esteem may find rejection to be more painful, and it may be more difficult for them to recover from rejection. Research has also shown that people who are more sensitive to rejection may be likely to engage in behavior that leads to further incidences of rejection. They may also be more likely to experience loneliness, as they may attempt to avoid chronic rejection in their interactions by avoiding social situations entirely.
Working to strengthen resilience and developing a strong support system of trusted family and friends can help those who are sensitive to rejection overcome any sensitivity and reinforce belief in their own values.
- Therapy to address frustration with chronic rejection: Eddie, 29, enters therapy, reporting feelings of stress, depression, and frustration that have led to aggression and irritability. He tells the therapist that he has been trying to date but that he has been unsuccessful: He has been in love with his good friend for several years, but she would rather date "one jerk after another" than go out with him. Eddie says he has tried to move on and date other girls, but that none of the girls he asks out express any interest in him. He tells the therapist he is depressed and frustrated that his friend does not have feelings for him, since he believes she is "the one," and that any girl would be "lucky" to date him. The therapist begins by asking Eddie whether he believes his friend should have the right to choose her own dating partner. Eddie admits that she should but states again that he cannot understand why she would rather date other men when he is "always so nice to her." The therapist then asks Eddie if he is only treating his friend with kindness in the hopes that she will date him. He denies this at first but then admits that this might be the case. He says he values her friendship but would rather be in a relationship with her. Together, he and the therapist examine his thoughts and behavior toward his friend and other women, and through a series of exercises Eddie comes to realize that he tends to see women as "friends who might become romantic partners" rather than valuing them simply as friends. The therapist encourages him to examine what he desires out of a relationship and helps him understand that attraction works both ways: He may be attracted to someone who is not attracted to him, and kindness will not further attraction when none exists.
- Addressing insecurity and fear of rejection in therapy: Daniela, 24, enters therapy, reporting insecurity and low self-esteem. She tells the therapist that she has experienced several bad breakups in a row, where she was the one dumped, and states that she is lonely and would like to find a partner but that she is now afraid to try again. Further adding to her emotional distress is her recent termination of employment. The position was seasonal, but she had hopes of being kept on, and her current job search has not yet yielded any results. Daniela says she knows she has to find a job, but that she does not want to be rejected again. The therapist helps Daniela address the issue of employment first, encouraging Daniela to reach out to employment agencies and other services that help people find employment. They go over Daniela's resume and references, and the therapist encourages Daniela to keep trying, as she has a strong work history and positive references, including one from her previous employer that states they would have kept her on had they been financially able to do so. This renews Daniela's optimism, and she resolves to try again. Daniela and her therapist also explore some of the circumstances from her past relationships, and they identify together a few patterns, some related to Daniela, some related to those she has dated, that Daniela can be aware of when seeking further intimacy. They also address and explore Daniela's strengths and her goals, and she is able to develop self-compassion and greater self-awareness.
- Chan, A. L. (2017, December 6). This is why rejection hurts (and how to cope). Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/13/rejection-coping-methods-research_n_4919538.html
- Lyness, D. (2013). Rejection and how to handle it. Retrieved from http://kidshealth.org/teen/school_jobs/jobs/rejection.html