The Art of Rejection

There is nothing fun about rejection.  Unfortunately for us, the risk of rejection runs very high because we have unspoken expectations of people, places and things. This allows rejection to exist at work, school, in our friendships, our romantic relationships and in so many other aspects of our daily lives. Rejection quickly eats at your confidence and challenges you in a way that no other action can. It permeates our lives in many levels of intensity which makes each and every response unique.

How you choose to respond to rejection says a lot about who you are, even though you may not consistently choose the same reaction. Our responses are entirely dependent on how emotionally invested we are in each experience, which makes this all incredibly circumstantial.

The two most obvious responses to rejection are to:

  1. Face it head on.
  2. Pretend it never happened.


By facing the situation head on and with complete honesty, you will probably request some answers. This response puts you at further risk for encountering a second round of rejection. If you go this route, you must mentally prepare for the rejection to go into overtime and the rejector to choose once again to not engage any further. So sure, you will have the comfort of “knowing you tried” but also the risk of a second round of rejection, where you are left feeling even worse than you did before.

By pretending it never happened, you are avoiding the experience entirely. While this choice can prevent you from growing from the situation, it also prevents you from getting emotionally caught up in it. Emotions make things complicated, but we have them for a reason. As a person who often makes decisions based on emotion, I find this easier if I am not vested. Once I’m vested and my expectations are set, game over. It is never an easy thing to walk away from something you had high hopes for in the first place.

How we face rejection is truly an individual art form. There is a uniqueness to everyone’s interpretation of the task. The following responses are my best practices for finding peace with a situation that doesn’t meet my expectations:

  1. Look at the bigger picture.
  2. Ask yourself, “is this going to be something that will haunt me years from now?”
  3. If it is, consider your options for re-addressing the situation. Maybe there is a better method for going about it. If you can’t figure that out right away, give it some time for your emotions to settle. Don’t hesitate to discuss it out loud with someone who’s opinion you value. Maybe they can help. But if they can’t, sometimes talking through it is all you really needed in the first place.
  4. Recenter your focus on your priorities and values. What is it you are working towards? Who are you working to be? You may not have even realized how unimportant this actually was in the first place.
  5. Remember that those that want you in their lives, will work to do just that.
  6. Reflect on all of the great things you’ve got going for you. Don’t ever forget to enjoy the outcomes of your success as a human, in a very inhumane world. Take a moment to bask in the light of all your hard work towards being good at whatever it is you desire to be good at.
  7. Reprioritize discovering what your happiness looks like, without relying on anyone or anything else. Potentially eliminating the risk of rejection all together.
  8. Stay positive, as the energy you put out into the world will ultimately come back to you in the end. This is in no way easy work, but this response will be your most satisfying yet.


While rejection is inevitable, so are all of the other things that are meant to happen to you in this life. Staying focused on your expectations of yourself, rather than the other people or things around you, is the true art of rejection.