To reject means to:
1. To refuse to accept, recognize, believe, etc. 2. To refuse to grant; deny as a petition. 3. to refuse (a person) recognition, acceptance, etc. 5. To cast away as rejected. [From the Latin rejectus, which comes from reicere. Reicere is made of two parts: re-, meaning "back" + jacere, meaning "to throw."] - Funk & Wagnall's Canadian College Dictionary.
The hurt of rejection can slice deep, cutting through layers of defenses and hopes. If you have experienced rejection in the past without coming to terms with it, fresh rejections can be especially painful and confusing as they pile up on the old ones. Rejection can feel scary, even threatening at times.
We use many words for rejection; here are some of them:
discard, repudiate, refuse, prohibit, contradict, ostracize, exclude, eject, disbelieve, drop, cut out, let go, dispense with, throw away, cast aside, get rid of, shrug off, dump, dispose of, jettison, jilt, throw to the wolves, write off, abandon, turn down, deprive of, repulse, rebuff, repel, kiss off, slam the door in one's face, snub, have nothing to do with, spurn, turn one's back, deny, shut out, exile, banish, ban, boycott, blackball, bar, ignore, segregate, isolateQuite a long list of ways we find to exclude one another. They can all hurt, because one basic human need is to belong. Belonging affirms that we exist, that we have value and can contribute. When others cast us aside or don't let us "in" in the first place, our sense of belonging can feel threatened. It's easy to feel hurt and sad and to think, "If they don't want me, what will I do? I must not be as good as they are; maybe I'm not worth anything at all."
However, keep in mind that there is a difference between being rejected and being part of a natural change or situation that does not happen to include you. In the list of words above, I italicized some words because they could signal rejection, or they could simply signal a more neutral change or situation. Although such situations can be hard to take, they're not necessarily a personal attack against you.
Take a look at the comparisons below to get a feel for this difference:
rejection: Your girlfriend yells, "Kiss off, Asshole!" (Her anger and words are a definite rejection.)The key to dealing with all such situations -- clear rejections and neutral situations -- is to find ways to see and accept your own value no matter what others feel, think, say or do. What can you do when you feel rejected? Feel, think and act your way to new understanding:
neutral situation: You didn't get the funding for which you applied. The letter reads, "We regret to inform you that your application has been denied." (You simply didn't qualify, or other applicants were more qualified. This is not personal against you, even if it is hard to hear.)
rejection: You've been on the job for six months and seem to get along with your co-workers. Then, without warning, many of them start to snub you in the staff room and don't talk to you unless they have to for work. (Whether or not you understand why, this sort of treatment seems to send the message: We don't want/like/value you.)
neutral situation: A member of your team who often seems to be "on your side" now contradicts your opinion during a discussion. (As uncomfortable as this can be, it's just another person's opinion. Having different opinions does not mean that anyone has less value than anyone else.)
- Acknowledge your feelings. It's human and okay to have emotional reactions to tough circumstances. Name your feelings; do you feel sad, hurt, angry, disappointed, afraid, lonely, resentful, useless? Let the tears flow. Take a few deep breaths. Go for a walk. Write in your journal. Talk it out.