A while back, the hubby and I published the first cookbook from my cooking blog. It wasn’t a big cookbook—only 15 recipes—but a lot of hard work went into getting the writing, photos, and editing right.  And we did it! For us, it was a vast, exciting accomplishment, one that we’re quite proud of. Excited, I sent out a newsletter to our small mailing list—and by small, I really do mean tiny. Our 56-people strong mailing list consists of mostly family, friends, and a few avid blog readers.

A few weeks later, only three people out of those 56 had downloaded the cookbook. I was crushed. It left me wondering why I should continue writing if not even our friends and family showed interest in my work. After taking a deep breath and processing for a few days, I realized it was my expectations and feelings of insecurity that caused me to feel the rejection so profoundly.

I’ve learned it’s okay to feel disappointed when things don’t go as planned. What’s important is how you choose to deal with those nasty little feelings that leak to the surface. Rejection hurts but you don’t have to allow it to. Changing your perspective surrounding rejection leads to positive outcomes.

Why We Feel Rejected

Our feelings of rejection stem from our expectations and insecurities about our place in society. Writers of the Oxford Handbook of Social Exclusion, Terry K. Borsook, and Geoff MacDonald, discuss how “social exclusion hurts” and “can engender feelings of sadness, frustration, shame and anger” when we don’t receive validation in the form of love, approval, acceptance and good opinions from the people surrounding us.

Expectations have a way of distorting reality because we count on people doing things they may or may not be willing to do. Having expectations that are too high often leads to disappointment. I expected my friends and family to be excited about my cookbook. When they weren’t, I was left feeling rejected because my expectations didn’t happen.

Our insecurities and feelings of “less than” usually develop from early childhood hurts, which are compounded by other hurts as we grow. Those hurts help develop the inner critic that judges whether or not we are successful. Many times, our definition of “successful” comes from the society in which we live, rather than our views of success.

It’s easy to feel insecure when people don’t give us validation, but we must be mindful because “if we internalize this kind of negative feedback, we can begin to doubt our personal worth.”

Changing our perspective on rejection can help us move loving towards ourselves, and change hurt feelings into something more positive. Here are eight ways to deal with rejection lovingly.

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1. Believe in Yourself

“What we think, we become.” ~Buddha

One of the hardest things to remember when you feel rejected is that it’s someone else’s opinion—not a reflection of your true self. Rejection is painful, but you don’t have to let it define you. Changing how you view yourself can help you deal with rejection lovingly.

If you see yourself as a successful, confident person, then you will be one.

If you find it hard to see yourself as successful, “fake it ’till you make it.” This strategy works because your brain doesn’t know the difference between visualization and real actions —as evidenced in a study performed by The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. The study followed several groups of people, some who mentally worked out while others physically worked out. At the end of 12 weeks, the people who had mentally worked out increased their strength by 35% compared to a 53% increase in the physical group. Both groups gained strength, even though one group only mentally visualized their workout.

Laws of Attraction Katherine Hurst’s article “6 Steps to Begin Using Creative Visualization” outlines the steps you’ll need for your visualization journey.

2. Communicate

“Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.” ~ Paul J. Meyer

Communication is the key to any successful relationship. If you don’t explain that you are feeling rejected, no one will know. And without some introspection, you may not understand why you are feeling rejected, either. Start dealing with rejection by checking in with yourself first. Ask yourself why you are feeling rejected and how you want to deal with that rejection. Once you have a better understanding of how you think, why you feel it, and how you want to move forward, it’s time to talk to others.

Talk to the “offender,” if possible, and find out why the person “rejected” you. If you can’t talk to the other party, then speak to an outside person with an unbiased view of the issue. Once you speak to someone, you may be able to see things from a different viewpoint. It’s possible that what you viewed as rejection wasn’t meant as one. Speaking to the person who supposedly rejected, you might set your mind at ease by clarifying what was said. The American Psychological Association agrees that at the very least, you will feel more relieved because communication helps relieve stress “when you talk to is someone whom you trust and whom you feel can understand and validate you.”

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3. Practice Self-Care

“If you focus more on the inside, you’ll feel just as great about the outside. I feel attractive when I’m doing good and helping people.” ~ Keke Palmer

Taking care of yourself is always essential no matter what the situation, but it’s even more so when you feel rejected. Now is the time to do something beautiful for yourself. It could be as simple as having a cup of tea, taking a walk, or a bath. It could be getting a massage, calling a family member or a close friend, or taking yourself out to dinner. Performing acts of self-care help to increase your self-confidence and improves self-esteem. And why wouldn’t it?

4. Take a Break

“Rest when you’re weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work.” ~ Ralph Marston

Don’t immediately respond to your feelings of rejection. If you do, you might lash out and cause unintended damage to yourself or others. Take a break. Get up and walk away for a bit. If you can’t leave, stay silent, take a few deep breaths and give yourself a moment. By giving yourself time to calm down and get your emotions under control, you give yourself time to respond rationally instead of reacting irrationally to the rejection.

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5. Allow Yourself to Feel

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

The American Academy of Family Physicians concludes that not dealing with your emotions can lead to mental health issues such as substance abuse or depression, as well as physical issues such as headaches, high blood pressure, or even death.

Stop bottling up your feelings. Instead, work to release them in a healthy manner such as:

  • Talking to someone about how you feel.
  • Relaxing by taking a few deep breaths.
  • Practicing mediation, yoga, or stretching to help guide your thoughts.
  • Avoiding overeating or turning to alcohol or drugs.
  • Writing in a journal.
  • Training yourself to think positively.
  • Working with a mental health care professional to build your self-esteem and find healthy ways to confront your emotions.

Shannon Sauer-Zavala, a psychologist at Boston University, said that learning to accept your feelings, including negative emotions, as a normal part of life, is vital for coping. Have your moment, let go of the emotions and then move on.

6. Focus on the Good

“The greatest gift is the ability to forget – to forget the bad things and focus on the good.” ~ Joe Biden

You have a choice to focus on the good things or to focus on the bad things that happen to you. One of the easiest ways to change your perspective is to start focusing on the good instead of the bad.

Maybe you scored 80% on a test and beat yourself up for not getting a perfect score. But you passed the test. You didn’t fail. Or you lost a client at work through no fault of your own. It’s horrible to lose a client, but the client didn’t leave because of anything you did. Or one person didn’t like the meal you cooked. What about all those who did like it? Or, as in my case, I focused on the 53 people who didn’t look at my cookbook and forgot about the three who were excited to try my recipes.

If you start looking for what is good in the situation instead of the bad, you will change your perspective and achieve a more positive outlook on life.

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7. Examine Your Plans and Reset

“When ‘happiness’ eludes us – as, eventually, it always will – we have the invitation to examine ourprogrammedresponses and to exercise our power to choose again.” ~ Richard Rohr

Plans should always be flexible. When you become rigid to change, your chances of failure increase. It’s okay not to meet every goal you set. It’s how you react when you don’t reach an intended goal that’s important. So the next time things don’t go as planned, reduce your stress by examining your plans and resetting a new course for achieving your goals.

I planned for everyone on my mailing list to see my cookbook. When that didn’t happen, I got upset and felt rejected. A more flexible plan could include the option of sending out another email, contacting my personal friends and family using my email, or by calling or texting them or contacting them using social media. I can also realize not everyone is interested in my cookbook, and that their interest—or lack thereof—doesn’t necessarily say anything about my writing or my person. By being more flexible, I reduce my stress and increase my chances of success.

8. Give Yourself Options

“We should not give up, and we should not allow the problem to defeat us.” ~ A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

When you imagine only one possible outcome, you’ve effectively backed yourself into a corner, which can feel incredibly stressful and disappointing, should that one outcome not happen. Be open to the idea that things may change along the way or may not go as planned, and you lower your chances of feeling disappointed and rejected. Give yourself as much room to succeed as you can by giving yourself the options to adjust and change.

Remember to take a step back when you feel rejected, and to ask yourself if your insecurities are framing your experience. Most of the time, our feelings of rejection reflect our insecurities, rather than an actual rejection. But even if the rejection is real, it doesn’t have to define you. Only you get to make that choice.

If you love yourself and have the confidence that you can do whatever you want to do in life, rejection won’t stop you from pursuing your goals.