By: Dr Eliezer Gonzalez
To get through life, it’s important to learn how to handle rejection. It’s hard to face rejection, but we’ve all been rejected, and we’re all going to be rejected in the future.
And it never gets any easier.
It’s just part of life. Not everyone gets what they want. Not everyone gets the guy or the girl. Not everyone can get the job. Not everyone can “lift the trophy.”
I’m quite experienced at being a rejectee. As many do, I tend to take it personally. If my job application is rejected, I take it as a rejection of me because I’m of lesser value than someone else. If someone doesn’t like me, I see it as meaning that I’m not good enough.
That can create insecurity, bitterness and anger, and even shame, within us. The result can be anxiety and depression. In other cases, anger can cause us to lash out against others in ways that harm everyone around us, and ultimately harm us.
Shame can lead us down into the spiral of addiction, in which we temporarily try to take away the feeling of being unwanted through things that harm us and can ultimately destroy us.
How to Handle Rejection in a Healthy Way
If rejection is an experience all of us go through, then what are some tips to deal with it in a healthy way? Here are some suggestions that will help you handle rejection.
1. Take a Break Before You Handle Rejection
Try not to allow yourself to respond immediately to the rejection. Take some deep breaths. Sleep on it. Go for a walk. After some time has passed, sit down and try to process what happened in a rational way.
If you allow yourself to dwell on your initial feelings and respond instinctively, you are likely to make the situation worse. It is better to wait a little and then consciously examine and process your feelings about the rejection you have received. This will allow you to respond to and handle rejection in a better way.
2. Remember Who You Are
Don’t let the rejection define you. Reject those wrong thoughts that try to define you by the way others treat you. Ground yourself in your true identity. This is a supernatural way to handle rejection.
For those who have placed their lives under the care of God, this means that our identity is derived from who God says that we are. He calls us his precious children, profoundly loved and fully accepted by him. He demonstrated our value to him by coming in the person of Jesus and in loving pouring himself out to redeem us from our sin.
My own experience is that it hasn’t been easy to embrace this wholeheartedly. It requires a great deal of growth in faith and surrender to God. I am still growing in these areas.
3. Put it in the Past
Consciously put the rejection in the past, and do not allow it to shape your present and future. While you may experience the practical results of the rejection, recognise that your future need not be determined by your past. Today is a new day.
This is easy to say, but it is not always easy to live in the present, and not in the past. Our past tends to smother our lives so that we are not able to live in and enjoy, the moment in which we live.
As followers of Jesus, we are able to rely on God’s promise that our past is forgiven and forgotten (Hebrews 8:12). The Cross marks the great dividing point in time, and it divides our past from our future. When through faith you choose to identify with Jesus at his death, then because of His resurrection, you can know for sure that you are part of God’s new creation (Romans 6:4).
This isn’t because you are suddenly perfect, but instead, because God credits his perfection to you (Romans 4:3), and he has begun a process of growth within you.
For a child of God, the future is a wide-open horizon of eternal opportunities. Focusing on this is very helpful as you handle rejection.
4. Separate What You Can Control from What You Can’t
The start of the Serenity Prayer, attributed to Richard Niebuhr, goes like this:
God, give me the grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
There will always be factors in your life that you are able to control, and those you can’t. If you need to, sit down and identify the things you can control in the rejection and those you can’t. This will help as you handle rejection.
This isn’t easy, as it is natural for us to be under the illusion that we are in control of more than we actually do, and that as a result, we are more responsible for what happens in our lives than we really are. That’s why we tend to blame ourselves wrongly for things that are not our fault.
It may be helpful to work through the best way to handle rejection with someone you trust.
About the Author: Dr Eli Gonzalez is the Senior Pastor of Good News Unlimited and the presenter of the Unlimited radio spots, and The Big Question. Sign up to his free online course called Becoming a Follower of Jesus to learn about Jesus and His message.