How I Learned to Deal With Rejection

deal with rejection

Throughout my life it feels as though I have constantly faced an uphill battle to hold on to those that pass my way. My father up and left when I was just six years old and my ‘step’ dad barely lasted 10 years after that.

The friends that I grew up with have all left town and every girl that I have ever dated is now long gone.

It would be easy to think that there must be something wrong with me – or maybe an ancient gypsy curse that repels people away, and that’s what I thought for a long time (not the curse part, the something wrong with me part).

I once went through a phase of receiving nine rejections in a row by girls I asked out.

That sort of thing knocks the confidence out of you like a swift kick to the gut.

Yet I carried on – almost blind to the pain and emptiness that I felt. One day things will change, they have to right?

It wasn’t just relationships where I felt the effects of rejection. It seemed like every time I told someone of my hope and dreams I would be shot down in flames.

‘You can’t do that’

‘You don’t have the talent’

‘That’s for the privileged, not for people like us’

Rejection comes in many forms – I had learnt this the hard way. People can leave you, people can tell you that you aren’t worth anything – people can even refuse to be a part of your life from the outset.

It chipped away at me for many years. My inner force field could only take so much punishment – I didn’t know it, but I was on the verge of a make or break moment. Would I sink or would I swim?

The Paradigm Shift

They say that it’s only when you truly hit rock bottom that you can begin to rise to the top. I understand that concept as it was this ‘rebound effect’ which enabled me to finally see what should have been obvious from the beginning.

People aren’t rejecting me at all – they are either simply seeing the ‘me’ that they see or they have their own life situations to deal with.

It was logical – it was so easy to understand. It was like The Matrix had revealed itself and I felt as though Morpheus had opened up my mind to a whole new world of possibility and intrigue.

I began to systematically think back over my life and to all the people who I originally thought had abandoned me. Yes sure, it was hard to find an excuse for some of them but there were definitely others who I now realised were just scared, or lacked the emotional maturity to deal with something.

Every time a friend tries to put me down or to makes an attempt to crush my dreams they are basically telling me that they lack confidence in themselves. They struggle to believe that a better life is possible, or at least that they are capable of such a thing, and they are projecting their insecurities onto me.

That girl who suddenly vanished, leaving me with a selection of unanswered text messages and confusion simply didn’t have the emotional maturity to deal with a potentially difficult situation. People split up all the time – I have split up with people too so I know that not everyone is compatible but at the time it’s hard not to take something like that personally. Yet now I understand the motives behind her decision, she was scared, it’s fine – it’s not my problem.

The nine months of unemployment and countless job rejections that I went through in 2010 weren’t my fault either. When 100 people apply for the same job and only 20 get interviews, it’s a victory even reaching that stage. It wasn’t me they were rejecting, it was just the simple fact that they thought someone else was better for the job.

Acceptance Is The Only Way

I believe the key to living a life without fear is to accept the current situation and only then can we deal with whatever comes our way. Rejection breeds fear and fear fuels rejection. They go hand in hand and it’s the main reason why we struggle to live our lives truly in the present, without the burden of past failures or the fear of what may happen again.

The worst thing we can do is to take a fact and place our own opinion with it.

This person didn’t call back because… blah blah. The fact is that they didn’t call, but who knows what the reason is? There could be a million factors at play here and our ego loves to be the centre of attention – yet the chances are it’s nothing to do with us.

We need to let go. Clear ourselves of blame. To allow the possibility that people have their own problems, dramas and situations they need to deal with.

Only when we can fully embrace acceptance, are we free to enjoy the present. Good things happen and bad things happen. Some things will be your fault, other times they won’t be. No matter what happens, you are you and nobody else has the right to chip away at who you are and to make you feel inferior.

The only way that I learned to deal with rejection was to accept that it doesn’t exist.

Photo by Marc Blackburn-Wilson

31 thoughts on “How I Learned to Deal With Rejection”

  1. Yes Jamie, rejection does not exist it only feels like it exists, because we are believing something about a person or situation. There are always situations coming up for us, that we can learn from. The outside world can mirror back to me. So if people are leaving my live, where have I left my life. It can give us a great opportunity for self reflection.

    1. Hi Karen – I agree that the world usually offers a reflection to what is going on with ourselves, at least to a certain degree. It’s like the old saying, ‘you are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with’.

      It’s always healthy to remain self aware enough to fix whatever problems and issues we may be projecting on to others.

  2. Jamie, I love how this post played out. I was drawn in from the start and wondering, How will this end? You didn’t tell us how it all played out for you, and I like that. You let the reader connect with your words and decide if or how to implement your practices.

    The worst thing we can do is take a fact and place our own opinion on it. – Love that! Our brains are fantastic scenario-guessing machines, faulty predictors. Oh, why do we have brains?

    Well, I am off to not let anybody chip away at who I am. My goodness, so many lovely tidbits in this piece. Thank you!

    1. Hey Tammy, I’m glad you enjoyed this article. It’s quite unusual that I am this honest about my flaws and insecurities but it’s something I am getting better at – at least in opening up.

      Anyway, if we didn’t have brains then zombies wouldn’t have anything to eat. That’s my take on it. :-)

      Apart from that.. yeh pretty useless – especially with the ego taking the controls.

  3. Great post.

    The one particular part of it that really struck a chord with me was this: “They struggle to believe that a better life is possible, or at least that they are capable of such a thing, and ***they are projecting their insecurities onto me***. That last part… It is so, so true. Many people often do this and don’t even realize it, but they really are promoting that which they themselves are unsure of or afraid of.

    Thankfully, though, there are special people that come into our lives and not only believe in themselves, but also believe in and encourage the ones they love and care about. This reminds me of a great quote I read the other day, from Andy Andrews’ book “The Noticer”:

    “Most folks figure a true friend is someone who accepts them as they are. But that’s dangerous garbage to believe. […] a true friend holds you to a higher standard. A true friend brings out the best in you. A best friend, will tell you the truth… and a wise best friend will include a healthy dose of perspective.”

    1. I agree totally with what you’re saying here. A true friend both accepts and tries to bring out the best in you. Not change you – but to find the ‘you’ that you really are. Most of us hide away, insecure, scared to show our true selves but a good friend can both see our real self and allows us to be that in their presence.

      Kinda like the freedom we had as children.

  4. Good article I am enjoying reading. Thanks for sharing, we have to accept that the fact no one is perfect. Say is easy than deal with it… with the tips that you given I think I can deal with it better now..
    “The only way that I learned to deal with rejection was to accept that it doesn’t exist.”



    1. Hi Mia – I’m glad you’re taking the best part of the article (in my opinion). All the negative stuff only exists if we feed it. It’s like a monster that can only scare us until we grow old and wise enough to understand that they don’t exist.

  5. It is not easy to deal with rejection. Your heart will crash when you have so high expectation but at the end, you got nothing but rejection.

    You are right to say that to deal with rejection is to accept that it doesn’t exist. Only then you can move on with your life without any wounded heart.

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Hey Jamie,

    Nice post and very timely. I’ve tried to do this over the past and it has worked. But I am very hard on myself because I have high expectations. So I waver in staying true to the mindshift you mentioned.

    I will try this given the way a current relationship has played. There was a woman who I really enjoyed being around. We both developed feelings for eachother out of nowhere. It was really cool how it all happened. But she was at the end of out of her a previous relationship when we both started to feel more than a friendship.

    To cut a long story short, it’s been a few months and she mentioned to me that she was trying to get back together with her ex. During the three months I felt at times rejected. But as it turns out, she’s just not ready for anything serious. In fact, she’s planning to move to another proinvce to make more money for a couple years as she says it’s the time to do it. She’s not married and has no kids.

    So thanks to hearing this info, I don’t feel rejected. She’s just not at the stage. I can continue on doing my thing and feeling great about what happened with her.

    I read a good quote on G+….people are either in your life as a blessing or a lesson. I’m taking our relationship as a lesson in many things about myself and her.

    1. Hey Jordan, I went through a similar thing a few years ago and it hit me hard but it was the break up that taught me the most about rejection and how to deal with it.

      You’ll be fine!

  7. Jamie
    What a beautifully written piece on a top that everyone has had to deal with. There are so many incredible word explanations here of human frailty and frustration!
    My favorite is- ‘the worst thing we can do is take a fact and place our own opinion with it’.
    It sounds so ridiculous when you say it that it’s hard to imagine how often we do it!
    And I’m off, too, to think more on this and to let other people have their own problems.

  8. Unfortunately, there is very little support for people who are not conformist. I am in my mid 40s now and have made lots of mistakes but the biggest ones were when I let the wrong people influence my decisions (you need to be / do things different). It is lonely not to have support, especially from the people you care about but I believe that’s where the saying its lonely at the top comes from. Also, some of the best advice I have read is to let your tribe find you – that is live your authentic life and you will attract the kind of people who get you and support you.

  9. Greetings Jamie!

    Good on you for getting past the naysayers, they are not true friends as others here noted.

    Accepting that we make mistakes and then learning from them is so much healthier than beating ourselves up.

    All the best to you!


  10. Jamie,

    Great post. We have a lot in common. I was abandoned by my dad at an early age and became the object of my mother’s frustrations for many years.

    One of the most helpful things I have learned is that things that happen to us are events. We are free to interpret them any way we choose, and it’s most helpful if we see the events of our lives as things that happen, but not necessarily statements about the kind of person we are.

    Most of the time, something that happens between us and another person is more about them than it is about us, but it takes a degree of perspective and maturity to reach that conclusion.


  11. mahavir nautiyal

    Honest blog. Thanks, Jamie. Rejection can hit one very hard, shaking one’s foundations and self-confidence. The escape route is either to hit the bottle or to gather up oneself again and move on. The former will sink me further into quagmire of depression and the latter open the window of hope.Your blog gives the idea. I am , however, not sure that, ” The only way that I learned to deal with rejection was to accept that it doesn’t exist”, is going to help much. When rejection is staring at my face, how can I be oblivious to the fact. I would prefer to accept the rejection and take it as a hint to seek new path. There is a saying that when god closes one door, the other door gets opened. It is pointless to blame oneself for the problems that the other person has with me. What happens sometimes is for my good, though initial hurt can be traumatic for those who are sensitive. Those who believe in God will probably understand that life can give many surprises and not all of them are unpleasant.

  12. Nice post Jamie, thank you. It’s all about the meaning we assign to events isn’t it? Good, bad or indifferent, take your choice. Acceptance and forgiveness are twin powers to create a clean slate untarnished by our past biases and free up the energy used on resistance – and a fresh perspective is sure way to re-tap the flow of personal power.

  13. Awesome post.. rejections make you tough, they give you the opportunity to show your mettle to the you just have to rise above the rejections…

  14. I do love all that you have shared. Rejection is a real feeling, But, We are the creator of our own thoughts, feelings, and actions. I have been reading many great books and have been following lots of great You Tube videos. The greatest thing I have realized is, If I am not having fun, Then I better change what I am doing and go out and have fun. We can not change the way we are treated, but we can change the way we react. Coming from a dysfunctional family, I now have accepted that knowledge, learning skills, and changing my embedded belief window is a life long journey. I am enjoying my life, One Day at a Time. I am conscious of this very moment. Thanks Jamie for your post.

  15. Acceptance is part of a trio of A’s that I use to move on anything and you indicate that you used them too. You acknowledged that those who left you were unable to stay for various reasons and it was their stuff. You accepted it. Now my question – did you appreciate the short time that they were in your life and the blessings you received because you knew them and experienced something within yourself?

  16. Hi Jamie,

    Thanks for sharing the post. It’s very well written.

    My thoughts on the issue is this.
    Rejection is merely a feedback.
    It can be a feedback on how the person is responding to you.
    Alternatively, it’s also a reflection of who they are and what they believe in.

    A better question to ask is probably how do I make a NO it into a YES in the future.
    Is there something that I need to work on or improve on?
    Yes it is true that it might be a reflection of the other person such as their own insecurities and their own issues internally but I think it’s hard to influence those things.

    The only thing we have absolute control over is none other than ourselves.
    So take control of our own life and make the changes we need to make in order to move forward.

    It’s not just about being rejected 10 times by a girl and asking why me? why me?
    Like you said, it’s about acceptance. It’s about our ability to acknowledge the issues, make relevant changes and keep moving forward. It’s about making progress and improvements on ourselves along the way.

    Hope it helps clarify a few other things.


  17. Great article Jamie! i am going through a tough time in my life and it is really nice to read an amazing article like this. i am 26, finished my Masters in Electrical engineering, have a good job!

    i have been thankful most of the times for the things i have achieved in my life, but when it comes to women i have always got a sh%t deal. have had faced rejections from women since i can remember! experiences have taught me to expect the least, i acknowledged the facts, instead of getting angry and storing negative emotions everytime the relationship did not work out and times when i was let down, there has been changes in the past few months, but still there is this tiny fear that i would end up alone.


  18. This is such an excellent article, rejection is something I feel so strongly and often when we feel rejected it’s actually us rejecting ourselves! Recently there was a guy at uni interested in me and we had sparks but then it turned out he wanted just a physical relationship with me, and was very presumptuous about it too. In reality we are not compatible for a variety of reasons but that left me hurt and confused, especially because he said he wasn’t interested in a platonic relationship with me. Basically it just confirmed my beliefs about myself as being not dateable. People rave on about friendzoning and here I am having the opposite situation where I feel like my personality is the problem! I’m a rather ‘full on’ person and that prompts people to be faced with their own insecurities I believe. It’s so difficult not to take rejection deeply personal and I find that I can be accepting of rejection much of the time, not taking it personally, but when I think someone is better or different from how they really are I end up with shattered dreams over it.
    Although I am aware he clearly has a lot of growing up to do because of various assumptions he made and just his general ridiculously arrogant facade, a part of me is just thinking why, if I have a ‘flawless body’ (his words) and he finds me sexy does he not want to know me as a person? If I am really that special and great why won’t he be the person I want him to be? Yes I’m aware this is unrealistic to expect :P

  19. Rejection is a part of life. Not everyone is going to like you or be there for you but its how you handle yourself that really makes the difference.
    Great article.

  20. Acceptance is part of a trio of A’s that I use to move on anything and you indicate that you used them too. You acknowledged that those who left you were unable to stay for various reasons and it was their stuff. You accepted it. Now my question – did you appreciate the short time that they were in your life and the blessings you received because you knew them and experienced something within yourself?

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