As kids, you experienced more subtle (though still painful) forms of rejection—getting picked last in P.E., eating alone during lunch, or struggling to find people to work with on a group project. Those feelings of anxiety and hurt don't go away in adulthood. Rejection happens all the time: when your partner falls out of love with you; when you're passed up for a promotion; or when you don't hear back after a job interview.
But why exactly does it sting when it happens?
Part of it has to do with the stress you experience when you're rejected, which can send you into fight-or-flight mode. According to psychotherapist Dr. Mike Dow, "Brains are wired for mood congruent recall. Now, all the anxious memories of your life are lighting up... and it feels like your life is just one big mess."
On top of that, it's also easier to remember social pain more than physical pain. For example, even years after a difficult breakup, you can probably still remember the details of what went down between you and your ex.
In the bigger picture, humans are social beings. If anything, the pandemic (and the physical distancing rules) reminded us of this fact. We have an innate need to belong to a group, so when we're "rejected," the pain of being rejected can be too much to handle; someone who's been ostracized can even react aggressively to rejection.
If you experienced rejection lately and are having a hard time dealing with it, here are some words of wisdom from our Cosmo Mixers:
- "A rejection is just a redirection. Because anything that is meant for me will never pass me by." -Jen
- "Rejection sometimes builds your character, which you might need for the next opportunity that will come [along]. Also, it will help you realize your sense of purpose." -Chamie
- "If the rejections are work-related, I don't take it personally no matter how hurtful the comments ng clients or boss are. I reply professionally pa rin. I think that's better than not replying at all. I reflect and assess myself on what I can improve on and contribute to the team." -Isabel
- "Accept the pain. Let it wash over you. Have a good cry. Make sure you did everything so you don't regret things later. Congratulate yourself for being so brave and putting yourself out there and going for what you want. Eat your feelings. Write a story about it. Tell a friend, your friends, or your family. Inspect what you could have done better. Embrace failure and rejection. You're not perfect and you're not supposed to be. This will make you a kinder human. Rejection can be painful but it’s just one part of life. Laugh at yourself. Shit happens." -Jasper
- "I'll let myself feel anger, bitterness, and shame. If I resist those feelings, my brain goes asdfghjkl. It's important that I process negative emotions. Then, I just shop—for myself and my family. Retail therapy (although dangerous) really uplifts my mood, and I like sharing new consumerist finds with the people I care about. If budget is tight, I just take a nap." -Ira
- "List down the things I love about myself and remind myself that if I have all these people who love me for me, then it only means that the person who rejected me doesn't see me and won't be able to love me for me. Mahirap. But lots of reframing ng utak siya." -Jopie
Go easy on yourself.
Answers have been edited for clarity.
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