Reframing Rejection - How to Deal with No

Rejection is just another hiccup on the pathway to success. How can we turn rejection into an opportunity for growth? Here is how we can reframe rejection.

By Jenny Dsouza ~

Rejection 1

Wouldn't we all love our lives a little more if opportunities just kept flowing to us?

We think that plenty of opportunities coming our way all the time will make us happier. But if we stop for a moment to think about it, we may see the flaw. If something comes easy and regularly in our lives, it becomes a part of our routine and we’d dismiss it or take it for granted.

To really appreciate what we have in life, sometimes we need contrast. This means that only when we’ve heard no a few times, do we really appreciate the yes. In that way, rejection is a part of this bigger picture of our lives. We must normalize rejection and the emotions that come with it.

Life is really a gateway of opportunities that we land after facing rejection in various forms. Cinderella went through years of toil and rejection before she landed her glass slippers and married the love of her life. J.K. Rowling was rejected a total of twelve times before her magical world of Hogwarts was published in April 2002. In the movie, “the Pursuit of Happyness”, salesman Chris Gardner, had to fend for himself and his son. It took him several ‘NOs’, sleepless nights in shelter homes, and hours of hard work to finally attain some ‘Happyness’.

Some may say that even God or the Higher Beings don’t welcome us into the kingdom of Nirvana until we have repented enough for our ill doings on Earth. Rejection has always been a big part of our lives and will always continue to be so.

Now that we know that rejection plays a big role in our lives, how should we overcome it? Well, first things first:

    Pause...and breathe!

    Before we proceed further, know that our mental health matters and our emotions are valid. No two people in this world are exactly alike. Humans cannot be like the congruent triangles they teach us in mathematics. We are but in fact more like similar triangles. We are similar in terms of possessing our differences. We do not think in the same way and neither do we process rejection the same way. Now that we’ve established that, we must recognize that our emotions are valid. All we can do when we are rejected is to pause and breathe.

    Dealing with rejection at work

    Didn’t get that dream job? Feeling dejected because someone else got the promotion? Got fired? Feeling unheard and underappreciated? Didn’t get that important deal? Rejection at the workplace can find its way up to you in various forms.

    Workplaces can be very stressful environments. But again, rejection is a part and parcel of our professional life. No matter how strong we are, it still impacts our mental health. Despite the strong logic of rejection, most of us break down occasionally. Here are a few tips that may help with rejection in the workplace –

    • Pen down your thoughts or confide to a loved one. Just accepting the rejection can be liberating.
    • Do not take the rejection too personally. The company is going to do whatever it takes to survive. Radical decisions and changes in direction are often not a reflection of our skill, efforts, or work ethic.
    • Practice self-affirmations to boost morale. Staying positive is key when dealing with rejection.
    • Look at the situation as an opportunity. When things are burning down to the ground, it’s time to reinvent and rise again from the ashes.
    • Take constructive criticism from seniors and work on the shortcomings.
    • If one job didn’t work out, others will. Do not stop. Keep applying, keep pursuing and keep chasing opportunities.

    Successful entrepreneurs have risen from several rejections in the past. Now is your chance to do the same!

    Dealing with Romantic Rejection

    We’ve all experienced romantic interests at some or several points (no judgment here) in our lives. Love can be a rollercoaster of emotions, both, its presence and absence. While being in love with a partner can be one of the most exhilarating feelings in the world, the absence of its reciprocity can leave us feeling empty and dull. Unrequited love can be quite the devil indeed! Be it cliché school love, the constant fighting and patching up kind of love, or the married and glued to each other forever love, there exists pain whenever our idea of it being forever, breaks. While we all deal with heartbreaks differently, here are some tips that may help you:

    • Pen it down. Not only will this take some burden off your shoulders but who knows, it may inspire a song or a book. Good things often start at the very end.
    • Talk to a friend who has experienced something similar. Or to someone who really gets you. Empathy is what you need right now.
    • Take out some time for self-reflection. This is the best time to rediscover yourself.
    • Have a girl's night or regroup with your guy gang. Do not shut yourself from the world.

    Whatever you feel right now is going to be intense, and while it may seem like the world is crashing down, trust us when we say this – it is all going to be okay really soon. So let time do its thing, just remember to love yourself a little extra!

    Rejection Therapy

    For many, being rejected is the deepest form of pain and suffering. Rejection therapy patiently guides us through the healing journey with the help of a trained expert.

    Rejection can affect our mental health severely and may lead to underlying psychological problems or other issues such as anxiety, depression, anger issues, substance abuse, and lack of self-belief.

    If you or someone you know is disturbed because of rejection, do not refrain from getting help from a professional. Therapy can be a blessing and works a charm in a majority of cases.

    Here are some of the forms of rejection therapies. Go with what resonates:

    • Counseling or talking to experts.
    • Cognitive-behavioral therapy.
    • Rehabilitation programs
    • Support groups
    • Humanistic therapy
    • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

    Other Rejection Therapy Ideas

    If you are dealing with rejection by yourself for whatever reason, know that there are still options available for you. Here are some simple things you can do that may help. You don’t have to do them all, just whatever works for you.

    • Go for a run, get those happy hormones kicking in!
    • Write down your thoughts. Penning down how you feel is a very effective way of relieving stress and sometimes you may find solutions in your writings as you re-read them.
    • Practice deep breathing. Make a conscious effort to breathe mindfully and sumptuously especially when you are stressed out. Breathing deeply is a signal to our subconscious that everything is okay. The Whim Hoff breathing technique can do wonders, too.
    • Take some time for self-reflection. Once you have dealt with the initial shock of rejection, take your time to heal and reflect on what your next few steps should be.
    • Talk to a friend who understands you.
    • Go and get a tight hug from a loved one. Hugs are very therapeutic. Research states that the act of hugging increases the secretion of cortisol in our bodies which helps in relieving stress.

    • Try to manage your emotions by diving into activities such as yoga and meditation.
    • It can be difficult but try not to take the rejection too personally. Use this as an opportunity to work on yourself and grow.
    • Allow yourself to feel. Do not bash yourself for feeling dejected but do not allow the negative emotions to eat you up inside.
    • Try to understand that this was one event in a certain chapter of your life which isn’t over yet! Life has lots more in store for you. You cannot stop here.
    • Indulge in healthy activities that make you feel good. It could be swimming, dancing, painting, or even catching up with friends.
    • Get your 8 hours of sleep. Sleep plays a vital role in overall cognitive functioning.
    • And lastly, give yourself some time to heal!

    100 days of rejection – Jia Jiang

    In his TED talk, Jia Jiang explains how his life had a complete 360-degree change when he decided to quit his job at a Fortune 500 company. His goal was to start a business of his own but due to certain fortunate/unfortunate events, the biggest investor drew back from his commitment and Jiang could no longer start his business. Heavily disappointed but still staying strong, Jia decided to formulate a therapy for rejection that would go on to make him a YouTube celebrity.

    He challenged himself to cope with rejection by doing 1 ridiculous thing each day which was likely to result in rejection. He started uploading videos of him performing these tasks on YouTube. The tasks varied from intensity right from trying to interview Barack Obama to learning Spanish at the supermarket to change a Coffee Shop’s WIFI password to attend a random super bowl party. While most of these tasks sounded obnoxious and were sure to be rejected, he actually succeeded in quite a few of them. Jiang has been a motivation for many and showed the world the true definition of perseverance and how rejection does not mean the end of the world. Here is the video:

    The fear of rejection

    By doing these tasks, Jia Jiang was actually trying to overcome his fear of rejection. We often don’t follow our hearts or take bigger risks because we are afraid of rejection. Fear of rejection can lead to us to restraining ourselves from applying for a newer and better job, from asking out the person we like on a date, from saying no to a friend when you aren’t comfortable doing something, from presenting forth a brilliant idea or even opening to a person you love because you think they might abandon you.

    The ability to share feelings without fear of rejection is most closely associated with a sense of mindfulness and security. This fear is a mental battle. It is essential to understand that getting rejected is just like any other life event that happens regularly, and we mustn’t let it refrain us from doing something now. The future is always uncertain, all we can do now is work on our present.

    How to overcome the fear of rejection

    • Do more of it. Because of our survival instincts, we as human beings are fearful of the unknown or something which may temporarily hamper us from achieving what we want. Indulge in more new activities outside your comfort zone.
    • You have only one life. Live it to the fullest and don’t allow the fear of rejection to hold you back.
    • Face your fears. Sure, there would be no rejection if you don't attempt it. But, probably you won't reach your goals either. Instead, take chances that can lead you to success. Apply for the job you wished for, start a new business, take action to promote your business like a pro, be the first one to extend the hand of friendship, join the hobby class you wished for, etc. 
    • Meditate and practice mindfulness of breath.
    • Practice self-affirming tasks and maintain a journal.
    • Reflect and try to find the good in the situations you were rejected in.
    • Work on your shortcomings and strengthen your strengths.
    • Do not allow rejection to affect your self-worth.

    In the end, it is important to understand that rejection is only a temporary hurdle, that once crossed, will leave the path clearer for your future aspirations. 

    Just like Bo Bennett once said – ‘’A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success’’,.  Sit still for a bit, breathe, reflect, process, and don’t forget to start over again. There is always light at the end of the tunnel!



    I’ve faced many rejections in life. It would have been easier pass through them if I had read this blog after my graduation. But this will definitely help a lot of youngsters.

    Popular on Lifeism