How to Get Over Rejection: 9 Habits That Have Helped Me

“Most fears of rejection rest on the desire for approval from other people. Don’t base your self-esteem on their opinions.”
Harvey Mackay

In this week’s article I'd like to look back into the past.

Back to the time when I was single.

It was a period when I faced rejection a lot of the time.

Which was actually a step forward for me. Because before that I spent much of my time totally avoiding situations where I could be rejected.

But still, it hurt. So I needed to learn how to handle and get over rejection.

And today I'd like to share 9 habits and reminders that helped me with that and still helps me to this day when I get rejected in other situations.

1. Take some time to process it instead of forcing a smile on your face.

How to Get Over Rejection: 9 Habits That Have Helped Me Trying to force optimism or to move forward when you are still in an emotional turmoil or a bit shocked usually don't work that well.

So first just take a bit of time to process the thoughts and feelings that arise when you've been rejected.

At first it will likely hurt. Maybe a bit. Maybe a lot.

That’s OK. Just be with those feelings and thoughts instead of trying to push them away.

Because if you do, if you let them in and accept that they are there then it will go faster and in the long run be less painful to process what’s happened. At least in my experience.

If you on the other hand try push it all away then those emotions tend to pop up at unexpected times and can make you moody, angry or pessimistic.

2. Focus on what you still have in your life.

Take some time for the thoughts that arose.

But don't get stuck in dwelling and in dragging yourself down into an ocean of self-doubt and negativity.

Instead, shift your focus to what you actually still have in your life.

The people, the passions or hobbies, the sometimes taken for granted things like a roof over your head and that you don't have to go hungry.

Tapping into gratitude like this helps me to put what happened into perspective and to not let it overwhelm me.

3. Say no to your inner critic.

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When you’ve faced rejection then it’s easy to start pummeling yourself and to drag yourself further down by listening to your inner critic.

The inner critic is the voice that whispers or drones on in your mind about how you’re not attractive enough, not smart or witty enough or perhaps that you’re unsuccessful in life.

And that’s why you got rejected.

When you notice this voice starting to pipe up in your mind shut it down before it become a big snowball of negative thoughts that you’ll have a hard time stopping.

You can shut the inner critic down by, in your mind, shouting something like:

No, no, no, we’re not going down that road again!

When you’ve gotten the inner critic to shut up, once again focus on what you still have in your life or on other constructive steps from this post.

4. Let it out to a friend or loved one.

Bottling the rejection and this situation up can make it feel and seem a lot worse than it needs to be.

Letting it all out and talking it over with a friend, partner or family member can help you to release your pent up emotions and to start seeing the situation with clear and sober eyes.

Just venting can allow you to start figuring out what happened and what you can do to move on from this.

And if you like, then your friend can offer advice from his or her own life and the two of you can figure out at least the start of a plan for how you can keep moving forward.

5. Don't think it's all about you.

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It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking there is something wrong with you if you for example don't get a second date.

But not everything is about you.

The other person may have his or her own self-doubts. Or things from the past he or she has not moved on from yet.

Or that person may simply be looking for something or someone else than you.

That's just how life is.

So see if you can learn something from the situation but don't put everything that happens on yourself.

And this of course applies beyond dating when you, for instance, deal with rejection from friends or when you're trying to deal with a rejection at work.

6. Be constructive and focus on what you can learn.

As I mentioned above, not everything is about you if you get rejected. And getting rejected is just a part of a life well lived, of a life where you go outside of your comfort zone.

But at the same time be honest with yourself to increase the chances of success and reduce the risk of rejection in the future.

Maybe there’s something you can improve about your interview skills when you’re at a job interview?

Or about your conversation skills or ability to keep it relaxed and positive when you’re on a date?

That was at least the case for me with all of those things.

Two questions that helped me to get into a constructive headspace a while after rejection are:

  • What’s one thing I can learn from this?
  • What’s one thing I can do differently the next time?

Maybe these questions will give you an idea or two. Or maybe they sometimes won’t.

But I’m at least glad that I’ve taken a couple of minutes with them after my setbacks and rejections because they have often helped me to make progress and to improve many parts of my life.

7. Remember: this is temporary, not permanent (if you keep going).

When you’ve been rejected then you may start thinking that this is permanent. That the hurt will always be there.

And that you’ll always fail in this area of life and get pushed away.

Don’t get seduced by such a destructive thought and potentially self-fulfilling prophecy.

Instead, remind yourself of these two things:

  • Just because you got rejected today at a date or a job interview doesn't mean you’ll get rejected in a similar situation next week (even if it might feel like that right now).
  • The truth is that this just a temporary situation and it won’t last for the rest of your life if you keep moving forward step-by-step, keep learning and it doesn’t label you as a failure (so don’t put that label on yourself).

8. Strengthen your self-esteem.

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A self-esteem toolbox filled with helpful thought habits and strategies won’t make you invincible to rejection or any other negative situation.

But it makes you stronger.

It makes you less vulnerable to what others may think or say about you.

It makes more things bounce off you. Instead of them dragging you deeper and deeper down.

And with kinder self-talk that is actually helpful it’s easier to stay constructive and learn something you can use in the future and to keep going forward (compared to if you beat yourself up for weeks or get lost in a moody funk).

9. Keep going.

Process what’s happened, learn what you can but don’t let the rejection stop you for too long.

Don’t let it get you stuck for weeks or months.

With a focus on what you still got in life (that many in the world don’t have), on what you can maybe do differently and with your attention on your opinion of yourself and what you actions you can take keep moving forward.

Even if it’s by just taking one small step at first.

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About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehacker, HuffPost and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • moses james

    thanks a lot for your encouragement

  • I’m really having a hard time dealing with rejections but thanks to this blog because you just gave me tips that will surely help me cope with it.

  • Jonathan Stern

    Real top-notch advice! I love how you emphasize both acknowledging and allowing the negativity around setbacks while constructively moving through it. Putting both things together was difficult for me in the past and is still difficult for a lot of people.

  • Anna Mata

    I couldn’t agree with you more. We find ourselves in situations that suck so bad that we tend to blame other people and things to try to lighten our mood. But if we all do ourselves a favour by changing our attitude and look at the brighter side of things (such as what you just mentioned) rejection might be a little easier for us to get through.

  • Victor

    This was very helpful, thank you, I was going to end my life today no joke, I tired of living but I’m seeing things clearer, times when I read your blog I can think things out, this article has helped me, just want to say thank you.

    • Robin

      Please just hang in there. It is so very hard sometimes but the old cliche about it being darkest before dawn does have merit. Take care and be kind to yourself!!

  • Dipesh Sah

    I think this is a very good advice one can easily folllow. Infact this is not an advice it is above than that this is a real experience on can get and is very useful even…………….

  • Hi Henrik,
    Thanks for sharing such a inspiring blog. This blog has given a new way to live a life.

  • Abijeet

    Thanks for sharing such a inspiring blog.
    This blog has given a new way of living a life and thinking

  • DNN

    I look at rejection today as a vehicle to profit me. They always come running back when they quietly find out you’re doing good without them! :-)

  • Marcia fussell

    Wonderful inspiration !

  • Channelle Kendrick

    Thank you so much for your powerful encouragement. One thing that I have accepted from these blogs that knowledge is not power, but APPLYING knowledge, the things we learn and can learn IS POWER.

    Thank you so much for sharing positive thoughts. It really helps and keeps me going and the positivity moving when I have my bad moments.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Henrik! This a good advice, for example if you apply for a job and someone say no, don’t get sad or offended, keep going because no means Next Opportunity !