How to Withstand Rejection

Don't take it too personally; aim to grow from the experience.
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Rejection can hurt, and not just emotionally. When you experience rejection, whether a guy declines your offer to dance or a publisher turns down your short story, the experience activates areas of your brain that correspond to physical pain. In addition, rejection, when not handled carefully, can damage your self-esteem and even impair your ability to think clearly, asserts psychologist Guy Winch in the "Psychology Today" article, "Ten Surprising Facts About Rejection." Avoid these issues by learning several healthy ways to cope with rejection.

1 Take a Breath

When handling a painful experience such as rejection or humiliation, the first step should be to take a few deep breaths. Deep breathing will increase your resilience to rejection by calming your body's negative reaction to the perceived threat, suggests psychologist Deborah Khoshaba in the Psychology in Everyday Life article, "Rejection Sensitivity: Three Ways to Beat It!" Try an exercise like the alternate nostril breathing technique, as recommended by Khoshaba, or search for a few other popular breathing exercises that suit you. This will help you achieve the rational mindset you need to use additional strategies.

2 Search for a Positive

Look at rejection as a possibility for growth, recommends Khoshaba. Asking for feedback is one way to turn rejection into a positive situation. If a publisher turns down your latest short story, ask for some feedback on why your work didn't make the cut. If the publisher doesn't provide feedback, submit your work on a writers' forum and seek the opinions of your peers. If dating never seems to go well for you, ask your friends to critique your approach. Or, if you're feeling bold, ask the person who rejected you why she doesn't feel things will work out. Take this feedback without getting too emotional, or else people will hesitate to give you the truth.

3 Spread Out

It's easier to withstand rejection when other doors of opportunity remain open, suggests psychiatrist Fredric Neuman in the "Psychology Today" article, "How to Cope With Rejection." For example, when applying to a college, don't just submit an application to a single school. Branch out and apply to a list of schools you are interested in. Even if one turns you down, you can still keep your fingers crossed for positive responses from the others.

4 Be Kind to Yourself

Accept that you have shortcomings and are bound to make mistakes, just like every one else, reminds social psychologist Alice Boyes in the Psych Central article, "7 Tips to Avoid Personalizing Rejection." It's easier to accept rejection when your self-esteem is high enough to acknowledge your imperfections. In many cases, rejection might not even be a reflection of your talents. For example, perhaps your short story is well-written, but the publisher isn't interested in the genre. Perhaps you are a charming young lady, but the guy you asked out already has his sights on someone else. Be fair to yourself, and maintain a healthy sense of perspective.

Mitch Reid has been a writer since 2006. He holds a fine arts degree in creative writing, but has a persistent interest in social psychology. He loves train travel, writing fiction, and leaping out of planes. His written work has appeared on sites such as and GlobalPost, and he has served as an editor for ebook publisher Crescent Moon Press, as well as academic literary journals.