How to Deal With Rejection in a Healthy Way

Rejection is one of the most universal monsters of social life. It's practically inevitable that you'll never meet it. Here, we'll give you some tools to minimize its emotional consequences.
How to Deal With Rejection in a Healthy Way
Laura Ruiz Mitjana

Written and verified by the psychologist Laura Ruiz Mitjana.

Last update: 20 October, 2022

Have you ever felt rejected by someone you liked, were interested in, or were in love with? Do you know how to deal with rejection in a healthy way?

When someone rejects you (it can be a family member, a friend, a group of people, etc.) your self-esteem and sense of dignity are at stake. However, this isn’t all.

In this article, we’re going to reflect on how rejection affects you on an emotional level and propose some ideas to deal with it in a healthy way.

How does rejection affect you emotionally?

Rejection can be seen as a punishment, a universally unpleasant event. After all, we’re all social beings and need to relate and feel validated and recognized by others. We want to feel reciprocated. Sometimes, we even need or seek the admiration of others.

Added to this is the fact that rejection usually comes from a person you’d like to be close to so the emotional consequences intensify. Thus, rejection causes your self-esteem to suffer. You feel it as a personal attack.

“If there’s someone we love, someone we admire, someone we’re attracted to, or someone we want to be friends with and we feel like there’s no match, the self-esteem hit has to be there.”

-Luis Muinho-

Also, keep in mind that every rejection adds its emotional weight to that of previous rejections. The good news is that you have resources that can help you deal with rejection in a slightly healthier way. It’ll prevent this common occurrence from affecting you in a non-adaptive (or excessive) way.

Woman with symptoms of depression after a breakup
Feeling rejected affects our self-esteem.

Tips for coping with rejection in a healthy way

How do you deal with rejection in a healthy way? You must look for a midpoint between validating what you feel, allowing it, and avoiding dramatizing it.

The way of coping that we propose claims that rejection says nothing about you; it’s just that the other person doesn’t feel what you want them to feel or they’re looking for something else. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Work on your self-esteem

When your self-esteem is ‘good’, you feel good about yourself, and the damage that rejection can do to you will be less. It might annoy, bother and disappoint you, that’s only natural. However, it won’t knock you out emotionally or make you believe that you’re not worth it.

Your self-esteem influences how you feel about yourself and how you interpret what’s happening around you. A self-esteem that, in turn, is influenced by the messages you receive, but also by other variables over which you have more control, such as the way you manage those messages.

Remember, you need to love yourself to be happy, not be loved by someone else (that’s just an extra).
Here’s how you can improve your self-esteem.

  • Self-reinforce. Give yourself small rewards for things you do well.
  • Promote self-knowledge. Spend time alone, look for hobbies, get out of your comfort zone, and discover what you like.
  • Take care of your internal dialogue. Treat yourself well and educate your thinking to make it healthy.
  • Take care of your emotional health. Ask for psychological help if you need it.
  • Recognize your strengths and accept your weaknesses.
  • Surround yourself with people who treat you well and make you feel good. Stay away from toxic relationships.

2. Acknowledge your strengths

Even if you’ve been rejected, you still have a lot of strengths and plus points. Indeed, one thing has nothing to do with the other. However, it’s important that you discover them and identify with them.

Good self-esteem depends on healthy self-knowledge. This means knowing that there are some things that you’re great at and others that you’re not so good at.

You don’t have to be good at everything to feel good about yourself and to be worthwhile.

3. Accept yourself

Sometimes, you want to please people who you’re never going to like, and that’s absurd. Love, attraction, and feelings should happen naturally.

Let everything flow. Don’t confuse yourself by the feeling that you have to please others and avoid repeatedly going over the subject. Feel your emotion, let it hurt as long as you need, but also work on accepting that rejection.

4. Forgive yourself

Take the blame off yourself. No one is to blame. There’ll always be some people who’ll like certain things about you, others who you’ll immediately fall in love with, and others who won’t pay any attention to you at all.

This is perfectly normal and okay. You haven’t done anything wrong to account for your rejection.

man thinking slowly
Accepting that we can’t be liked by everyone is key to dealing with rejection.

5. Avoid personalizing or being so referential

Lastly, remember that a rejection doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with you. Rejection isn’t explained by anything personal, the causes have nothing to do with you. Indeed, sometimes there’s no logical explanation.

For this reason, we encourage you to put aside self-reference (thinking that you’re the cause of everything) and start opening your mind.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

-Eleanor Roosevelt-

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.