• Dr. Bill Walker

What To Do When People Reject You

Rejection is painful. Such is life. Most of us can remember being rejected at least once when we were school-aged. Kids are immature and often reject for unfounded, immature reasons.

Being rejected on an adult level is different. Unlike kids, being rejected by an adult is ‘usually’ based on rational reasons. This can make the rejection hurt all the more.

What Can You Do To Protect Your Sense of Self When Someone Rejects You?

Here are four suggestions.

1) Know: Sometimes it is the Other Person’s Issue - Not Yours

There are more than a few ‘grownups’ who have not grown up emotionally. These type folks tend to be more rejecting of others – often as a defense mechanism. They reject people to protect themselves. They may be uncomfortable around people like you because you threaten them in some way. They may consider you prettier, smarter or more successful. Being around you is a constant reminder of their shortfalls. It is easier to reject you and not have to deal with the insecurity they feel when with you.

Another cause of rejection is when the two of you are in very different places in your lives. Maybe you are excited about your upcoming wedding, and they recently had to cancel their wedding because their fiancé broke up with them.

Maybe you are dealing with depression, and they just came out of a depression. It makes them uncomfortable to listen to you talk about your symptoms and struggles of your own depression.

These type situations have NOTHING to do with you, but with particular life situations you find yourself in.

2) Be Willing: Take a Look and Make Changes To Your Behavior

No one’s perfect, including you. To protect our egos, we can blind ourselves to our imperfections. You may have some habits and tendencies people find off-putting – but because you live with yourself 24/7, you don’t notice them.

Ask a close friend or two to point out possible behaviors of yours that might turn people off. Common turnoffs include being overly focused on yourself, overly focused on others, being loud/obnoxious, being too reserved, demanding, or unassertive.

While there is no way you can please everyone your off-putting behaviors may be significant enough to negatively impact your social life in a major way. No one should have to totally change who they are, but being willing to make certain modifications in your behavior could make a big difference in your relationships with people.

Behavior expert Jennifer Vandolin, of Duke University, explains it this way: “Ultimately you have to know who you are well enough to say, okay, that information sounds pretty valid, I do tend to do that, I can see why that might not be attractive to other people, so I’m going to work on changing it,” [1]

3) Don’t: Tear Yourself Down

Being rejected hurts. When the hurt is turned inward, it can become depression. Being depressed can lead to more rejection. People would rather be in the company of an upbeat, positive person than a depressed, woe-is-me person.

The more you criticize and condemn yourself the worse you are going to feel about yourself. Depressed people tend to be very self-focused. A self-focused person does not have much to offer a relationship, as they are too busy focusing on their issues and problems. Being this way can keep people from investing in a relationship with you as they perceive you have little to offer them.

Take this attitude: ‘Being rejected hurts but it is not the end of the world. Wonderful people are rejected every day for many different reasons. Right now, I happen to be one of them. I will use this as an opportunity to become stronger.’

4) Focus: On Relationships with People Who DO Like You

These are the people who matter in your life. Be grateful you have friends who like, love, and accept you for who you are.

These people are also proof that you are not the loser you may be tempted to believe you are.

For every person who rejects you, there are ten who would accept you, given the opportunity.


Christianly Speaking

*Jesus Christ was rejected by many, including His own people.

"He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem." (Isaiah 53:3, NIV)

"He came to his own people, and even they rejected him." (John 1:11, NLT)

*King David, the most popular king of the Old Testament, and a man after God's own heart (Acts 13:22) was rejected and hated by many.

"Those who hate me without cause outnumber the hairs on my head. Many enemies try to destroy me with lies, demanding that I give back what I didn't steal." (Psalm 69:4, NLT)

The good news is that in the midst of this rejection God was/is always there as a source of strength and comfort. As the Bible assures us:

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (Psalm 34:18-19).

God also says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'” ( Hebrews 13:5-6, NIV).


The Bottom Line

Rejection happens to all of us sooner or later. Rejection feels terrible and hurts us in our core.

BUT - we are often rejected for reasons that are not our fault and beyond our control.

Even when it is in our control remember these final thoughts:

-- You will never be able to please everyone

-- Remember that plenty of people like and love you just the way you are, so

don't feel pressured to change yourself unless it is your choice

-- If you do have attitudes/behaviors you want to modify:

--- come up with a plan of action

--- make sure the plan is realistic (no one can totally change their personality)

--- relax, and gradually implement your plan in doable, small steps

Before You Go

Know anyone that could benefit from this article?

Please share and respond so others might be helped!

Thank you,

--bill walker