Flashback to third grade. You’re in gym class – kickball day. Maybe you’re not the best at kickball. Maybe you hate kickball.
It’s time to pick teams, and you watch all of your classmates get chosen ahead of you. Even the kid with the inhaler. The pickings get slimmer and slimmer before, finally, you’re the last kid left standing.
It’s not third grade anymore, and despite becoming powerful all-knowing adults, we deal with rejection more than ever. Your proposal is denied. Your awesome, witty Tweet gets completely ignored.
Your smile at an attractive woman is unreturned. From the 1 billion swipes on Tinder each day, only 12 million matches are made. That right there is a lot of rejection.
Rejection sucks. In fact, rejection triggers the same part of the brain as physical pain does. Rejection hurts – as in, Tylenol literally helps reduce the emotional pain of rejection.
Sometimes rejection weighs a little more heavily than in other instances. At your lowest point, the most brutal rejection, how do you pick yourself up?
Step #1: Own your emotions.
As a man, you may be under the impression that the manly call here is to bottle up these emotions, label it “quitter talk,” and chuck it far out to sea. Turns out you were led astray. It’s OK to feel a little down after experiencing rejection.
If that job you were really hoping for didn’t pan out, you’re bound to feel some negative emotions. Rejection can create surges in anger and aggression. Acknowledge and understand why you are feeling the way you are.
Remind yourself it’s OK to feel that way. Being emotionally self-aware allows you some semblance of control over your emotions. Instead of lashing out, maybe go for a run or hit the gym.
Step #2: Realize your worth.
Let’s say you meet a girl at the bar and throw out your strongest pickup line. She doesn’t go for the bait. You might feel embarrassed or emasculated, but guess what?
Nobody has to know – even if you trip on that bar stool as you try to stroll (read: slink) out of the bar smoothly. Did you know that rejection can temporarily lower your IQ?
Maybe that’s one of the reasons why we do the dumbest things right after being rejected. So next time you fall flat on your face, laugh it off. Your entire existence does not boil down to that one moment.
Besides, you’ll look a lot smoother if you’re able to laugh at yourself.
It’s not helpful to have your train of thought go off the rails, crashing into an endless inner-monologue pointing out all of your flaws. Instead of beating yourself up, recall the times you did successfully pick a girl up.
Think of your accomplishments, all the things you’re good at and all the people who care about you. In the wise words of Aziz Ansari in “Parks & Rec,” treat yourself!
Step #3: Find your tribe.
Is a good friend constantly falling through with plans? Maybe you had made plans to meet a couple of new friends out on Friday night, but you never heard back.
Your instinct might be to wonder what you did wrong or what appalling character flaw of yours made them not want to hang out with you. It wasn’t your breath, your hair or your shoes. It’s life.
Chances are, these friends got caught up in their own lives. They forgot. Shit happens. Rejection destabilizes our “need to belong,” says psychologist Gary Winch.
Instead of binge-watching Netflix by yourself, reach out to a more reliable friend or family member who is always there for you. It’ll be just what you need to feel connected again.
Step #4: Learn and try again.
If one woman says “no” to you, are you going to become a hermit? No, you move the hell on. If one job turns you down, are you going to stay unemployed forever? No, you have bills to pay.
Rejection gives you a rare opportunity to improve yourself because you have insight into what you could be doing better. Learn from the experience. Next time you’ll be a stronger version of yourself.
Ultimately, rejection is not the end of the world. Some of the most successful men in the world overcame brutal rejection. Maybe life threw you a curveball. Maybe you took a mighty rip and the curveball and looked like a damn fool.
But, now you know what kind of curveball life has. And you know what? It ain’t so bad. The next time life tries to spin another one in there, you’re ready to put that thing into the seats.
So, instead of staying down, dust yourself off, try again, and be sure to practice your home run trot.