The Upside of Rejection

Written By: Corinne Carter, Relationship Therapist

It goes without saying: most of us don’t like rejection.  Rejection is often painful and can be hard on our mental and emotional well-being.  For these reasons, many of us not only dislike rejection; we fear it.  However, there are some upsides to rejection that tend to go unnoticed…

For example, when we are rejected, it frees us up for other experiences.  One might even say that rejection frees us up to be where we truly belong.  Using an example from my own life, when I was a new graduate seeking full-time employment, my application package was rejected by several employers time and time again.  Each time I submitted an application to a new job opening and heard nothing in response, I felt distressed; it was difficult not to become discouraged by all of the rejection.  Eventually, after about a year of applying, I received a full-time job offer for a position that allowed me to work from a “virtual office” and structure my own schedule, by and large.  This particular position has been a great fit for me in many ways; the flexibility of the role has allowed me to work as a therapist in private practice at New Roots Therapy simultaneously, and has made it possible for me and my business partner to grow our counselling practice over the past three years.  I’m quite certain that I would NOT have had the time or energy to continue working as a therapist in private practice, let alone grow a business, had I been given an offer for one of the many other positions I had applied to which would have required me to commute to a central office location daily, nowhere near my counselling practice.  After enduring a year of rejected applications, I found myself in a full-time position that was better than I could have imagined.

Rejection also provides us with an invitation to grow.  When we’re rejected, it’s easy to slip into self-judgmental thinking where we begin to make evaluations of our self-worth (e.g., “Of course they didn’t want to hire me, I’m not smart enough for the job”).  Instead of sliding into self-judgment which, in fact, impedes growth and change, we can use rejection as an opportunity to reflect on ourselves and ask: “Is there anything I could be doing differently to help change the outcome next time?”  Perhaps using a different approach next time around would be helpful, or perhaps it makes sense to revise your goal.  Perhaps you could take some additional training.  Whatever the case might be, rejection provides us with an opportunity to grow ourselves as individuals, which is absolutely critical to overall success.

None of this means that rejection won’t ever hurt again.  It will, and it might even hurt a lot.  However, the next time you experience rejection, we’d encourage you to try and see beyond the hurt in order to see the upsides that it has to offer as well.