“Nick, what’s wrong with me?”
I’ll never forget asking my friend that question after he didn’t invite me to his 12th birthday party. All my friends went and it hurt to be left out.
Rejection sucks. It makes us question our self-worth. What did we do wrong? We ruminate for days or weeks over something that can’t be changed. We make excuses to help justify it.
I’ve gotten better since I thought my life was over for not getting invited to Nick’s birthday party. I’ve learned how to deal with rejection. I’ve been rejected by employers for new jobs, women after asking them out on dates in front of their parents in busy restaurants, and strangers after they hated a blog post I wrote.
Just like you, I’ve learned through experience. But experience doesn’t always make the next rejection any easier.
Last week, my resolve for dealing with rejection was tested.
“Sorry, Eric…I’ve met someone else and I don’t think we have a romantic future together.” When I heard those words, my first instinct was to ask myself, “What’s wrong with me?”
But I didn’t. I did something else. And if you feel the sting of rejection, feel free to use my method. That’s kind of why I share these things with you…
Take a long walk…to the bakery.
I went for a walk. I reflected. I breathed in the fresh air of spring and smiled at strangers who walked past me.
I wandered around Atwater Market and walked along the Lachine Canal in Montreal. I sat on a rock and watched people tip-toeing around puddles.
On my way home, I got a whiff of fresh baked bread and followed my nose to the most delicious donut I’ve ever eaten in my life. I ate my donut and chatted with the cutie working behind the counter.
Next time you feel rejected, take a walk, explore, and eat a donut. It helps.
Reframe it into something positive.
When someone rejects you, for whatever reason, you have to believe that it’s for the best.
I don’t like the mantra, “Everything happens for a reason.” But I do believe that when rejection happens we can choose to look at it as a loss and something negative, or as an opportunity and something positive.
For me, reframing shitty situations into something positive is key to living a healthy life. The faster you reframe, the less time you spend brooding over the past.
Take it easy on the person who rejected you.
We need to show compassion for the people who reject us even if we feel angry towards them.
It’s important to imagine what the person went through leading up to them rejecting us. How long did they struggle to make their decision? Was it hard for them? How do they feel now?
I don’t like rejecting other people and I imagine you don’t either. But it’s tough to imagine ourselves in that situation when we’re the people being rejected. It’s easy to feel the hurt when we’re on the receiving end but we need to put ourselves in the position of the other person, too.
Show them compassion and try to understand their point of view—no matter how much it hurts. I guarantee it’ll help you get through it.
At the end of the day…
Rejection isn’t easy but it’s not going away from our lives any time soon.
There’s nothing wrong with me, there’s nothing wrong with you, and there’s nothing wrong with the people who reject us. Period.
Rejection happens all the time. You don’t choose who rejects you and when it happens. But you get to choose how you react.
Getting upset about rejection is like getting mad at the weather. We can’t control it, prevent it, or hide from it if we want to be a functioning member of society.
Rejection is a by-product of taking risks. A job interview or asking your boss for a promotion is risky. Dating and love is risky. Being vulnerable, open, and honest is risky.
If you’re not getting rejected it means you’re not taking any risks.
And if I have to make a choice between sheltering myself from rejection or taking risks, getting out of my comfort zone, and dealing with the consequences, I choose the latter. Every. Single. Time.
So go take more risks. Smile and wave at rejection when it visits you. Keep moving forward.
And never say the words, “What’s wrong with me,” ever again…seriously, don’t say it. My buddies still make fun of me to this day for something I said when I was 12 years old. I can’t wait to read the WhatsApp conversation after they read this blog post.