Life has good seasons, ebbs and flows to it. There are peaceful partings where forks in the road come, relationships naturally change, and there’s mutual understanding. Then there’s the other moments. The romantic relationship that ends unexpectedly, the friend of years that walks out, or the dream job where they love your work, but don’t necessarily love you. At some in life, we all face rejection, loneliness, and the hurt that comes with it. But how we deal with rejection, pain, and moving forward, determines the ability for our heart to love and lend trust to others again.
Over the past two years, I’ve gone through an intensive process and have found that overcoming rejection was one of my biggest victories. Very rarely in life and love do we talk about vulnerability, rejection, and hurt. While it brings depths of meaning to the relationships where people choose us, as we navigate life, we’re rarely given tools to face pain, cope with it, and overcome rejection. We tell ourselves time will heal wounds and we learn how to put our feet on the ground every morning. If we’re perfectly honest, no one wants to identify themselves as someone who struggles with rejection and acceptance.
Here are a few things I’ve learned over the past few years that have been vital.
Learn to face your pain.
It’s easy to run from our pain, push it down, and try to keep on navigating life. Learn how to healthfully express your pain, validate the emotion you’re feeling, and choose not to remain in those feelings. Sometimes it might mean writing things out in a journal or verbally processing with a trusted friend. (For most of us, an honest hour conversation with a trusted friend could replace hours in therapy.)
Get a fresh vision for what you desire as you move forward.
Once we experience a painful experience with others it’s easy to wall ourselves off, becoming closed off and a fortress. It leads to superficial relationships, lacking the very depth and nuances of meaning we truly desire. Once a bit of time has past, ask yourself the kind of community, romantic relationship, or career opportunity it is that you desire. As you put pen to paper, focus on the things you do desire, rather than solely the negative. What are the things you value in friendship, the kind of people you desire to surround yourself with? What culture do you long to be in?
I never thought I had an issue loving myself, but I am surprised how often it can come up. Whether it’s negative thoughts toward my body, the way I age, or the way I take care of myself throughout the week, it can become apparent. How we think about ourselves often is the way we view others as well. Choose to look in the mirror and practice positive self-talk. Statistically we have 27,000 negative thoughts run through our head throughout the day. Learn to love yourself by capturing anything less than true and throwing it out the window while driving down the I-5. Get into the practice of doing this and you’ll find it transferring to the way you see others as well. During a season where rejection has felt somewhat brutal, give yourself the necessary treats to love yourself. You’ve lived with you for a while, so you know what you need. For me, this means good night’s sleep, some great time in prayer and scripture, and healthy food that my body craves. When I do this and workout, my body feels so much better.
Find the positive and encouraging friends that bring out the best in you.
I love to surround myself with champions. They’re the people that champion me, ask the best questions, and our absolutely killing it in their fields and spheres of influence. When I’m around these people I know I’m going to have a great time. We can laugh together, cry together, lean on one another for support, and celebrate each other’s wins. There’s something about surrounding yourself with people that inspire you and you walk away challenged, stretched, and smiling. These communities of people are rare gems. Once you have these relationships, cultivate them, hold onto them, and enjoy them for as long as the season lasts. They will be anchors and benchmarks in your life.
Know this you belong.
What’s the opposite of rejection? It’s acceptance, love, and belonging. What makes you believe that you belong? You were meant to take up space. To be the bold, audacious, loud, quiet, strong, gentle, tender being that you are. The things you believe about the world, others, and faith shape the way you see everything. For me my faith, encounters with the living God, the ways he has spoken, shown love, care, and acceptance over and over again have changed everything for me over the past few years. It has been the core of who I am and the anchor through whatever I may face and how I have overcome rejection. I know that I belong and that I am enough.
What are some of the ways that you overcome rejection?