Dealing with Rejection
Rejection can be incredibly painful, especially for adolescents who are developmentally wired to try to fit in and belong. Research shows that our brains experience rejection in the same ways as it experiences physical pain. It genuinely hurts! Unfortunately, rejection it is a normal part of life and impossible to avoid completely.
If we don’t deal with rejection properly, it can lead to negative results. We might become risk averse or withdraw from others as a way to protect ourselves from the pain. While this is an understandable reaction, it will significantly limit us in our lives.
As a result, it’s important that we teach our youth some positive ways to cope in the face of rejection. When your teen faces rejection, empower them to see themselves as a mentally strong person who can endure adversity. Below are some tips you can give your teen:
Develop self-compassion. Many times when we experience rejection, we make it so much worse by beating ourselves up. We are already feeling low, and our inner critic starts in with negative self-talk. “Of course, they didn’t want to be your friend, you’re such a loser.” “Why did you even apply? You’re not smart enough to do something like that.” Our own brains will kick us when we’re already down. Instead, we need to offer ourselves compassion and indulge in some gentle self-care. We must purposely choose to say and do nice things for ourselves. We should engage in an enjoyable or relaxing activity. Activities like exercising, listening to music, dancing, drawing, writing in a journal, yoga, taking a bath, reading, taking a walk, or spending time with a pet can all reduce the sting of rejection. We should also remind ourselves of our positive qualities or past successes – silence the inner critic with some positive affirmations about yourself!
Find connections. One of the most common reactions to rejection is to withdraw. We want to lick our wounds in solitude. Unfortunately, this natural reaction is one of the worst ways to deal with rejection, as it only makes us feel worse and reinforces that we are an outsider or not valuable. When we feel the sting of rejection, we really need a dose of social connection. We naturally feel protected when we are with others who love us or care about us. Feelings of belonging will help us to recover from rejection much faster than isolation. Make the effort to connect with family or friends.
Find perspective. An unsuccessful venture can show us that failure and/or rejection isn’t the end of the road, but rather just a momentary setback. Remind your teen that they do not need a specific person, team, opportunity, or experience to make them happy. These things bring temporary happiness, but they are not permanent, and when one opportunity is closed, it gives room in their life for a new opportunity. When we can view our struggles as temporary, we become much more resilient and able to cope with the disappointments in life.
Recall the good. You must remind yourself that you are a good person and that rejection does not change who you are. Rejection can really activate our meanest inner critic and we can become incredibly hard on ourselves! To combat that, get specific and list every positive quality that you know you have. Write a paragraph or think about why each one of the traits you listed is meaningful or why it’s appreciated by others.
Learn. A rejection is a chance to consider if there are things we can improve about ourselves. This is an excellent opportunity to consider what went wrong this time and determine a better method or approach for next time. A rejection can help us identify where we may need to work or it can help nudge us in a new direction that is a better fit for our talents or personality. Don’t let your teen miss the opportunity to be self-reflective when rejection knocks – it can make them a better person.