Young man giving flowers to his girlfriend outdoor.Image is intentionally toned.

The Sting of Rejection and How to Deal

Feeling rejected is a hard pill to swallow, no matter how it is served. We can feel ‘rejected’ by friends, crushes, family members, or spouses. And of course, the usual suspects typically arrive – sadness… disappointment… anger. It can be hard not to take rejection personally, as though it’s something about us that may have contributed to the rejection.

We could agonize over something that we said. We may beat ourselves up for not being ‘more like this’ or ‘less like that.’ It can be common to respond to rejection with a tone of self-judgment or criticism, which could make sore feelings worse.

In this week’s blog, we consider the experience of rejection as a type of craving. From a Buddhist perspective, craving includes our ongoing desire for external things, which can also cause suffering. For example, we could crave food, material items, opinions, or other people and if we do not have what we crave, we may endure suffering.

When we crave, we usually want to satisfy that craving. When we obtain what we are craving, we may attach to it. When we feel tightly attached to ideas, things, or people we can get frustrated or upset when our expectations are not met. This can cause suffering.

It is suggested in Buddhist teachings that to help end suffering, we should aim to stop craving. This is clearly easier said than done because as human beings, we simply do crave and desire. So, my hope for right now is that the Buddhist perspective may encourage us to respond to rejection in a mindful, kind way. For those times when we crave a relationship with someone, but our expectation is not met and suffering is endured, here are three strategies that may help us recognize what we crave, nurture our human experience, and consider steps toward positive change.

Mindfulness of the ‘Wanting Mind’

Mindfulness can help us increase awareness about our inner experiences, such as thoughts, emotions, and sensations. With enhanced mindfulness of our inner experience, we can practice getting curious about our ‘wanting mind:’ that part of us that seems to always be hungry for the next thing.

Following rejection, we may investigate our experience and take note of what we are wanting. Perhaps companionship? Did the relationship fulfill a need for love or affection? Are you feeling lonely and want to get rid of sadness? What we aim to do here is to recognize and name what the wanting mind is craving. You could try a brief mindfulness practice by incorporating steps like these:

· Stop moving and close your eyes

· Take three deep breaths

· Observe internal thoughts, emotions, and sensations

Offer Loving-Kindness

As we potentially become more mindful about our wanting mind, we may notice old stories or patterns arising. For example, there may be a familiar storyline about not being ‘enough’ for someone to stick around. We can feel trapped and controlled by these types of stories or patterns.

Mindfulness can help us first recognize and name the experience, which can then give us an opportunity to offer loving-kindness to parts of ourselves and the experience that may need support. Loving-kindness includes various self-compassion practices that can provide nurturing and warmth when we feel that we are suffering. These types of practices can decrease our sense of feeling ‘threatened’ and help us feel soothed. Here is a sample of what loving-kindness may look like using phrases that you can offer yourself at any time:

· May I accept myself as I am

· May I know that I am enough

· May I love myself from top to bottom

Take Action & Grow

With increased awareness about ourselves, we may notice things that we would like to change. For example, it can be common to want to improve how we react to others, to decrease the amount of anxiety that we feel in relationships, or to improve communication skills. Specifically following rejection, those old stories or patterns may be nagging at you and interfering with the types of relationships you want to have with yourself or others.

A sense of rejection, or how we respond to not having a craving met, can be an opportunity for learning and . The third strategy for dealing with rejection builds on the first two: mindfulness and loving-kindness. With increased self-awareness and self-compassion, we can choose actionable steps that may empower us to break old habits and patterns and start showing up in relationships as our most authentic, truest selves. You may consider, if you could choose one thing to be different about your relationship with yourself or others, what would it be? Some ideas could include:

· Taking things less personally

· Communicating more honestly

· Setting clearer boundaries

Therapy can be a useful place to help you learn and practice all three strategies: mindfulness, loving-kindness, and setting goals for positive change.

Learn More

If you would like support as you aim to learn more about yourself in relationships, reach out for a free 15-minute informational consultation. Let’s connect and see if Grow True is right for your needs.


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