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  • Ann Houser

Embracing Rejection and Dealing with Disappointment

Ugh! Rejection is one of the events we would rather not admit, much less think about. It’s not flattering, fun or energizing.

Rejection is painful is because the feelings of rejection are similar to those of physical pain. We aren’t faking the discomfort, shame or sadness…it’s real. Rejection triggers the same areas of the brain as physical pain.

That being said, rejection doesn’t have to control our lives, dominate our future or monopolize our feelings.

Let me tell you a story about a woman. She had just turned 40. She interviewed multiple times for jobs, that should have been ‘easy’ for her to get. Instead, she kept coming in 2nd, much like the old adage, ‘always a bridesmaid and never the bride’. In addition, her husband had recently said he wanted a divorce after being together for almost 20 years and in the midst of raising 2 children. She thought she could convince him to stay, however, she was failing. Her life was crumbling. Sitting outside crying, became a daily event.

That was me years ago. While I can quickly and easily remember the sharp pangs, angst and worry, I am grateful to be so much happier now.

I learned 5 key lessons:

Play the long game. While I was anxious about finding another job, it was likely a gift I came in 2nd. I was probably not mentally or physically ready to work full-time at that moment. While the jobs were good, they weren’t perfect. I eventually found one that was ideal and worth waiting for.

Focus on Life Purpose. This was the most difficult time of my adult life. What grounded me was the thought of my girls. I was so concerned what the divorce and family disruption might do to them, that it forced me to come to grips with my sadness. I thought about how I needed to show up for them, consider their needs and remain a stable, positive influence in their lives.

Take care of yourself. I struggled. I didn’t want to eat. I lost weight. I forced myself to eat a plate of food at each meal. I didn’t want to get sick. I wanted to role model healthy behaviors for the kids. An incredible therapist carried me through this long rough patch. Attending a wonderful divorce support group, I met dear friends.

When life treats you roughly, respect yourself, by taking care of yourself. Be sure to do at least 1 nice thing for yourself each day. You may need it, in order to balance the onslaught of challenges.

You can’t control others. For some inane reason, I thought I could convince my husband to change his mind and stay. I was wrong. I can only control myself. Life is a lot easier, when you focus on what you can do to change your life, rather than what the people around you are doing.

Empathy and compassion. The best “gift” was gaining deep appreciation and understanding of difficult life circumstances. While I wasn’t callous previously, I was certainly naïve. I was not aware how difficult the challenges could be during job transitions and divorce. It opened my eyes and more importantly, it opened my heart.

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