At some point in our lives, we all have to deal with the process of rejection. It’s a very unpleasant process, but one that we all grow from in one way or another. The rejection process is similar to the process that we go through when we grieve over the death of a loved one. Sometimes it’s an even more painful process than death because we know that because we were actually rejected, the person willingly left us rather than death, which is normally not an act of choice.
There are five stages of grief; Denial, anger, bargaining,depression and acceptance. Sometimes we may go through the entire range of these in a very short period of time, but in the end each stage must be dealt with in its own time.
Denial: This is when we refuse to accept the loss. We use whatever tools we have available to prevent ourselves from actually having to accept the inevitable. When it comes to rejection in a relationship, we often think that the person was just upset or “will come to their senses” sooner or later. We may even continue on as if nothing has happened in order to strengthen our denial. This first step can best be dealt with when we ask ourselves why we were rejected. Is there something that we did or is there something about us that does not fit into the situation correctly? Sometimes people just don’t fit together. The person being rejected often feels as if there is something wrong with them. The fact is that they are who they are and if someone else cannot accept that, then it’s time to find someone who can…as hard as that may seem.
Anger: Once we realize that the rejection is for real, we tend to get angry. One of the reasons for this is because anger is much easier to turn to than the hurt is. We may get angry at ourselves, our higher power or the person who rejected us. This is a natural reaction to being turned away. This can be an ugly turning point if we turn it inwards. Getting angry at ourselves for being rejected can be completely unhealthy and can make us look at ourselves in an unrealistic manner. Now is the time to reflect on the situation itself and not on all of our faults.
Bargaining: As mentioned earlier, sometimes these steps hit us all at once, yet they must be gone through each in their own time. A possible scenario is that we first refuse the rejection, then get angry and say things we don’t mean, only to turn and try to bargain with the person who rejected us. We promise to stop doing whatever it is they don’t like..to change in ways that may not even be possible. This stage is when we are capable of grovelling and begging. It’s not pretty. For all the things that we offer to change, what we really need to do is look at how we were when we met this person and ask what has changed between now and then. Is it really necessary to change further or is this simply not working?
Depression: This stage is when the actual loss starts to hit us. It hurts. Everything we have tried to do to avoid the loss has failed. It’s important that we try to remember that failure in this aspect may not even be failure in the bigger picture. Imagine that you go through all these stages and then the person changes their mind and negates the rejection. Would you trust them to not do it again? Would you be willing to go through this process for them again?
Acceptance: Finally, we reach the point of acceptance. This is the calm relief that reminds us there is life out there after rejection. This is the stage we strive for even as we fight against it. Hopefully by this point we have realized that just because a specific person rejected us, that doesn’t mean we are unworthy of happiness. It simply means we didn’t find it with that particular person.
Finally we must realize that we need to accept ourselves before we can expect anyone else to. All to often when we care for others, we give them a certain power over our emotions and how we see ourselves. We may begin to take on some of their views and ideas about life. Too much of this can turn a healthy relationship into a codependent one. This is when we lose sight of who we are and base our happiness on other people. Once acceptance of the rejection is reached, we can begin to look at ourselves through our own eyes rather than the perspective of someone else.