Handling Rejection Gracefully
by Chantelle K. Dockter, MA, LPC
Christian Counseling Center of OR/WA
Question: I was up for a promotion at work, which I had worked very hard for. I went through a series of interviews, and felt like I shined in each one. Much to my surprise and dismay, the job was then offered to someone else. I am having a hard time, as I feel rejected and am wondering how I can move past it?
Answer: Rejection comes in many forms. No matter what form it shows up in, it is never easy and leaves us feeling discouraged and “less than”; whether it is not getting a job, a romantic break-up, or being excluded from a social event. For kids, teens, and adults alike, rejection is hard to take in stride.
Many of us (yes…including me) like to be in control of ourselves, our circumstances, and our environment. The truth of the matter is that there are so many things that are not within our control, and that is a tough reality at times.
Like the example above, we can do everything within our power to achieve something, but ultimately the decision is often not in our hands. It is vital to learn how to handle rejection in a healthy way, so that it doesn’t cause us to become bitter, or block us from pursuing the things we desire.
How to do that is the tougher part. The key is our reaction to the event or the circumstance, not the event itself.
You can line up 10 people and have each person experience the same rejection. All 10 people will respond in different ways. Why is that? It is the individual’s perception of the rejection that will lead to their reaction.
Using the above example, Person A may perceive the rejection as a personal dig or attack, and think that management is out to get them. He may then decide to quit his job, or not pursue promotions in the future, convincing himself that it will never go his way.
Person B may be understandably disappointed, have a down day, and then view it as an opportunity to prove that she is going to be the one for the next promotion, and work even harder. This is the person who will determine that there must be a reason that the promotion did not happen, and that there must be an even better opportunity coming up and focus on finding it. This is a much healthier view, and will keep the person true to who they are. They will not beat themselves up or stay stuck.
There is an old saying…that when God closes a door, He opens a window. I truly believe this. We don’t see the big picture of our life; we see just the snapshot we are currently in. We need to trust that there will always be more open doors, and that the closed ones will help grow us and make us stronger and more resilient.
We grow more in the tough times than in the easy ones. So focus on what you can control, and try to let go of the rest. Some of the things we think we want or need at the time are not the best for us. Sometimes a rejection is actually a blessing in disguise. It just takes faith to believe in a future you cannot yet see.