Rejection is a painful thing we all experience from time to time. But, some experience it frequently; and it can cause psychologically and spiritual damage if you do not handle rejection well.
Rejection is all about exclusion of some kind. That exclusion can be social, relational, from peers, family, friends and romantic relationships. A group or an individual can be rejected. While rejection is a subjective experience, it hurts because we are wired to be in relationship. Our basic need to be accepted and belong is tested when rejection is part of any relationship.
Rejection, if not handled well, can bring on loneliness, low self-esteem, aggression and depression. Feelings of insecurity are heightened and once rejected, a person can become more sensitive to future rejection. Anxiety can develop as well as anger and deep sadness. When social rejection is part of the picture, a person can learn to conform to peer pressure and comply to the demands of others even when that compliance could be dangerous or unhealthy. In the worse cases, people who are rejected can violently lash out, wanting revenge for the hurt.
So how should we deal with rejection?
1) Don’t allow rejection to define who you are or determine your actions.
God never rejects you and sees your worth even when others do not. Other people do not determine your worth; so do not give them that power!
2) Ask yourself if the person’s opinion of you is accurate.
Rejection is about you not measuring up to someone’s subjective experience. Who says he or she is right? His or her opinion is only one opinion of many.
3) Forgive the person.
Do not carry resentment and hurt inside or it will turn to bitterness and become explosive or depressing. Choose to forgive and let go with God’s help.
4) If you become angry, deal with your anger in a biblical way.
Don’t give ‘vent’ to it. Don’t get back at the person. Don’t hurt those who hurt you. It is natural to feel like taking revenge, but the God part in you says don’t do it. Revenge doesn’t take away the hurt; it only hurts others. Take the high road of emulating Christ. You will be a better person for it. (See my booklet, Breaking Free from Anger & Unforgiveness, for guidelines on dealing with anger.)
5) Confront the rejection, but do it with love and gentleness.
Sometimes people don’t know they have hurt you. Other times, rejection was intentional. If you would feel better confronting the person who rejected you, do it in a way that isn’t harsh and tells the person the impact the rejection had on you. Understand that confronting rejection doesn’t mean the other person will be sorry or apologize. So you really have to decide and pray about what to do.
6) Take the pain of the rejection to God.
Cry out to Him. God knows what it feels like to be rejected and encourages you to give your pain and burdens to Him. God is safe and will not hurt you or reject you. He wants to heal that part of you that was deeply hurt.