How to handle rejection gracefully: 7 tips for bouncing back

Today, we’re talking about rejection. Specifically, how to handle it. 

This is mostly going to be of the romantic kind, but since rejection is one of those all-around downers, most of these tips can apply to non-romantic situations, too. 

Look, being rejected is not a good feeling, no matter how good one can shake it off. The thing is, it’s also not the-end-of-the-world situation that a lot of us fear. 

A lot of us tend to catastrophize rejection, right? I learned this the hard way. 

So here you go, the 7 tips (that I learned) to better handle rejection:

1) Remember that rejection is redirection

If there is only one thing that you take from this article, let it be this one. 

Rejection is redirection. 

Yes, even from things we really, really want. Or from people we were really emotionally invested in.

I have used (and still use) this statement as a lighthouse whenever I am overwhelmed and drowning in my feelings. I keep reminding myself that their “no” could just be the push towards a “better yes” somewhere else. 

I won’t sugarcoat it and say this is easy to learn or even easy to remember right at the moment of rejection because it’s not. There’s still that split-second feeling of, “Okay, what now?”

However, it’s so helpful in the aftermath. Don’t get me wrong, I still brace myself for impact whenever I risk rejection, I think that’s just human nature. 

Thinking of rejection as redirection helps with the late-night overthinking of where we got it wrong, though. The “shoulda, woulda, coulda” of not getting what we want.

We become so attached to a certain outcome that rejection feels like hitting a wall. Rejection feels like a dead end. 

But rejection is not the dead end, rejection is the fork in the road

Decisions need to be made as new opportunities present themselves. 

It’s making space in your life to accommodate newness. To have enough space for new love. To meet new people. 

To discover the part of you that went through all of that and lived to tell the tale. To discover the part of you that took that rejection as a stepping stone for your next move forward.

2) Acknowledge that it happened

Someone’s rejection is a sting that’s akin to physical pain

It hurts, let’s not gloss over it. I won’t sit here and invalidate the pain you’re feeling, and even if we’re talking about handling it, we need to acknowledge the pain exists in the first place. 

Acknowledge that it happened. Acknowledge the effort you’ve given, acknowledge even the shame, if any. 

But, and this is a very important but, don’t take it as an attack. You won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and that’s okay. (Which is the next point, actually.)

Love ends sometimes and that’s okay, too. 

Acknowledging the rejection is just a matter of fact. Like closing a chapter in your life.

With that said, let’s jump to the next related point.

3) Believe that you are not your rejection

As difficult as it is to fathom this when the hurt is so present and so close, trust me on this, you are NOT your rejection. You are not who rejected you either.

That person’s rejection does not equate to your self-worth. (Your desirability doesn’t equate to your self-worth either, just need to throw that in there.)

Rejection is not an identity that you need to wear like a hat, it’s just a thing that happens sometimes. Relationships just don’t go to fruition, but that doesn’t mean you’re any less worthy of a fulfilling one elsewhere.

Rejection is rejection, it is a possible reaction to any potential. That is not the name you wear or the identity you absorb into your personality.

You aren’t damaged goods, you are not unlovable, you are not unworthy of love, you are suddenly not the sum of all the bad things about you.

You don’t need to whip out a grocery list of things you need to change about yourself to fit into someone’s dream partner.

And this brings me to this next point right here. 

4) Affirm your self-worth

Rejection can bring out the worst in us. Of course, it deals with the parts of us that want to be loved and validated, and getting rejected denies it of that. 

However, this is the prime time to affirm our self-worth. Don’t look at me like that, I truly mean it.

I’m big on positive self-talk even outside of this topic, how we talk to ourselves is so important. I believe how we view ourselves affects how we view the world.

When we get rejected, we start to think of all the reasons we were not chosen instead of all the reasons why it was just not a perfect fit. 

Why do we put ourselves at the mercy of someone else’s opinions? 

It might be difficult, but instead of saying “What’s wrong with me? Why did they not love me back?”, it’s less harsh to frame it as: 

  • “Would we have clashed with our personalities?”
  • “Would I really be willing to change my personality for the long-term just so they choose me? Would that have made me happy?”
  • “What qualities in a potential partner would fit my personality better?”

And these are only 3 (just 3!!!) of the many you can pivot to. 

And I know it won’t be sudden to reframe our thoughts, and I know it will be hard, but resilience in love is not built from one heartache.

However, it can be built from the many times you tell yourself you are worthy of love. To say “I deserve the love I wish for.”

Or “I deserve a partner that will be good to me and accept me for who I am.” 

Or “I am not my rejection, it doesn’t lessen who I am. It could be something that I learn from but not a thing that can take away from me.”

5) Don’t villainize the other person

In the same way I urge you not to look at yourself in bad lighting, I also urge you to not do the same for the other person.

Before you say anything, let me be the first one to say that if someone deserves it, I am not going to stop you from talking smack. That’s your choice.

What I’m talking about here is purely from the standpoint of post-rejection. To not immediately think of them as bad just because they didn’t love you back.

Don’t try to change their minds by changing yourself either.

If you don’t want to hear it from me, why not hear it from world-renowned shaman Rudá Iandê? Rudá is teaching people that love and intimacy are not what we were conditioned to believe.

In this free video, he explains the unhealthy way we view love. 

How we constantly chase those we shouldn’t. How we self-sabotage our chances for great love. How we minimize who we are to make space for other people’s validation. 

So, if you want a fresh perspective on love, watch the video to hear from Rudá himself. 

Honestly, sometimes you just need to hear the truth from someone who doesn’t know you and won’t judge. I personally got a lot of food for thought in this video. 

Here’s that link once again.

6) Process your emotions. Stay kind to yourself during this.

Do the emotional work and remember that there is nothing linear in healing. 

You *will* falter. You *will* still feel the sting of the rejection at the randomest of times. You *will* still regret things here and there.

Those are all valid, give yourself the grace to hurt over things and people you thought you’ve healed from. We’re human and our feelings are complex. They are rarely straightforward.

It’s going to take time. 

There’s this little nugget of wisdom that I have kept in my back pocket (although I can’t remember where I heard this from and a Google search turned out fruitless). 

It goes like this:

The reason you still hurt from something you thought you’d healed from is because you’re seeing that situation from a different standpoint. 

You’re seeing that old situation from one step further in your journey and you’re discovering a new perspective. 

Hits you like a ton of bricks, right? 

Healing has no timeline so be patient with yourself.

7) Believe that things will look up for you

Stay with me here, as this might resonate with you.

Rejection didn’t faze me when I was younger, I was braver then. I knew less about the world and I still saw it with the pink-tinted lenses of fewer lived experiences.

But then came the job rejections, the friend group rejections, the isolation, the poem that didn’t win the contest, the breakups, and the cycle of liking someone and not being liked back. Over and over, I could barely catch my breath.

While there were wins, the rejections did ring louder. 

Each rejection put up a wall to protect my heart. Until I no longer risked anything. 

Sure, I was never rejected after that, but I also never allowed myself the chance to win either. The walls I put up kept people away, but they also caged me in. 

At the risk of being dramatic, I essentially rejected myself first before anyone else could. (Leave before you get left behind, am I right?) 

So in recent years, in the midst of missing my younger and braver self, I aimed to put myself out there more. To risk the rejection, no? 

To confess my feelings, to say I love you when I mean it, to share more of my work, to apply to a job I don’t feel qualified for, to offer friendship despite shyness. All of this done at the mercy of rejection.

And while I still got rejected (and I got rejected a lot), I also learned. 

And would you look at tha, I’m sharing them with you, too. 

With that said, here’s one more learning: Beyond knowing that you are not your rejection, it’s important to BELIEVE that the best is yet to come. 

And that the circumstances will look up for you. This mindset is important! 

To focus on potential rather than what (or who) has gone, especially if what has gone is not agreeable. Look at it this way, if you believe that things will right itself, you won’t be so resistant to the new opportunities that will come. 

You wouldn’t marinate in the rejection if you believed that there was something more out there for you.

Someone’s rejection might sting, but it could also push you towards someone who can love you better. (Allow this author a sappy note and say that if that someone who can love you best is yourself, that’s okay, too.)

The rejection redirected you, friend, this is where you believe that it’s for the best. 

To end

Rejection is a taste I am very familiar with. It comes with the territory of putting yourself out there. 

This doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt anymore, nor does it mean that I am not scared or worried about betting on myself. This just means, at least for me, that handling it is something I’m getting better at.

I’m not infallible, there are days I still feel like the rug is being pulled under me, tugged from all directions by the many who did not love me back. That still hurts on a bad day. 

But I have good days, too. I accept the human in me who knows that healing isn’t linear. That love, like most things, is something I will never truly get right the first try.

And that is okay. To love is to learn. To love is to give parts of yourself hoping it will be held tenderly.

And to love is to fail sometimes, too, but that I am not my failure.

Sometimes, to love is to be ready for rejection. And rejection comes from time to time, sometimes in the least expected situation. 

But knowing, knowing genuinely, that rejection could come from all fronts but it should never come from myself.

Read that last part again. You got this. 

All the best, friend. 

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