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To Sulk or Not to Sulk: On Beating Rejection

These are my tips, and they are very practical

A violent blow to your insides that turns your limbs ice-cold and your lips white. Your dream shatters in a split second and your brain goes numb.

You’ve been rejected.  

And then you begin kicking at the table of destiny before you realize your helplessness in the face of your fate and fall down the hole of self-doubt. You begin seeking validation through external forces, forgetting that your true worth is inside you.

The more you put yourself out there, the more often you are faced with the dream-shattering strikes of rejection. The bigger your dreams, the more painful the repercussions. But, trust me, though it might seem like the sky is cracking into a billion shards, it is not the end of the world.

I have been rejected a number of times I fail to count, and I have watched the less worthy and the non-resourceful easily get what I spent years striving for. It sucks. It hurts. It stabs you like an icicle in the throat, in the heart and wherever it hurt most, but life goes on and we need to bounce back because succumbing to failure is never an option.

If you’re reading this, then you’re either a hater who wants to read everything I write, a fan of my work or have recently gotten rejected for a job, a scholarship, a romantic relationship or whatever. This is why I’ve prepared a list of the remedies I use and, no, they don’t include kicking anyone in the gut.

Before we start, make yourself a cuppa-tea and drink it while you read.

1. Throw yourself a pity party, but make sure it does not last long.

Though many people would advise against this, I found it pretty useful. Suppressing and numbing your true feelings and forcing yourself to bounce back immediately and before you’re ready is not healthy.

In an article published in Psychology Today, therapist Jennifer Rollin argued that resorting to negative behaviors to avoid and numb sadness and anger will result in also numbing happiness and joy, and I’m sure we all want to taste every crumb of happiness we could get.

Normally, I immediately try to convince myself that I’m okay. It doesn’t work. I ignore my feelings and act happy. The fire oppressed inside me turns into venom and I waste time on a futile struggle to look happy, eventually turning me into a sulky creature that hates people.

The only thing that ever worked was allowing myself to feel angry, upset, hurt and sad. I throw myself a pity party. One pity party is all you need, and there is no shame about it. We all need to sit and kick at the table of destiny, throw a tantrum and cuss our luck. We all need to fall apart in order to pull ourselves together.

The next morning you wake up feeling better though not yet recovered.

2. Move your bum.

So long as you’re curled up in your bed, hiding under the thick quilt of shame—or just the damn quit, you will be tempted to throw another pity party, which is not healthy. It is easier said than done but I have done it so many times and many others have done it, too, so it isn’t impossible. I pulled my bum out of bed even when I could no longer see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Last time I got rejected for an opportunity that would turn my life upside down—for the better, of course, I went to the gym the morning following my pity party and worked out and danced for over three hours. I was on a different planet.

Open the door and walk in the streets, go to a dance class or if you are compelled to stay at home, play some music and dance.

Besides the fact that working out prompts the release of endorphins and serotonin, which trigger positive feelings across the body, your body releases a protein called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). According to a Fast Company article by Leo Widrich, “This BDNF has a protective and also reparative element to your memory neurons and acts as a reset switch. That’s why we often feel so at ease and things are clear after exercising and eventually happy.”

In an article by Rachel Halliwell published in the Telegraph, Dr. Peter Lovatt of the University of Hertfordshire said: “You appear to get a much bigger release of endorphins when you dance than during other forms of exercise; it also connects with the emotional centers in the brain. For many people, dancing prompts an emotional release – often that’s uncomplicated happiness, while for some it can make them cry. It’s cathartic – a letting go of pent-up emotions.”

So, next time you get rejected, play some Arabic music and shimmy the pain away or hit the gym and sweat it out.

3. Vent.

I think I did mention this quickly in the first tip, but I thought I’d give it a section of its own. This is another thing that must only be done once. Don’t overdo it or it will harm your mental well-being. Also, do not say anything negative about yourself while you vent and be careful in whom you confide.  

“In many (though not all) situations, it’s better for you to discharge negative emotions than to keep them bottled up inside,” wrote Psychologist Leon F. Seltzer in an article published in Psychology Today.

He also wrote: “The immediate feelings of relief derived from such letting go can hardly be overstated.”

It is also good to know you are not alone. Merely knowing that someone cares enough to listen to you and comfort you is very heartwarming. It reminds you that you are greater than what you’ve lost. A friend said these words to me and my response between tears at the time was negative, but after my pity party ended, the words sank very deep and I couldn’t thank my friend enough for them.

Friends and family are blessings.

If you can talk to your mother, also do it. A University of Wisconsin-Madison study, published in 2010, concluded that “a simple phone call from mom can calm frayed nerves by sparking the release of a powerful stress-quelling hormone, according to researchers.”

4. Meditate and pray.

If you’re not religious, just meditate. Though as an ADHDier I find meditation difficult, it is worth the effort. It improves your mood, relieves stress, … and all the benefits you can ask Google about.

A 2000 study published in Psychosomatic Medicine showed that regular mindful meditation significantly reduces depression, anxiety, anger, stress, confusion and irritability.

I also believe in the healing power of prayer and supplication, so if you’re a believer, turn to God. Repeat while meditating or walking a prayer that consoles you, gives you hope and strength, reminds you that God is always with you and chooses what’s best for you, and restores your faith in the future.

5. Count your blessings.

On your fingers, count the good things you’ve already got. Be grateful for all the blessings in your life. This will help you recover from self-doubt, self-blame and feeling as if the world were conspiring against your dreams.

Remember, your qualities are also part of these blessings, so count them, too.  

For instance: I have a good job, I am a talented artist, I am good-looking, I have wonderful friends, I am healthy, I cook wonderful meals, I have a warm bed, there is hot water in the shower, I have a college degree, I am a kind person, I am generous, … etc.

Trust me, I’ve tried it and found it very soothing.

6. Write an article about how you handle rejection.  

Just kidding.

You can skip this tip, but as I shared my tips with you, I would really like to learn what other hacks worked for you. There will be more rejections in the future, and I’d rather be well-equipped.

Now stay strong and go do something you love—this also helps.

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