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Do Rejections Make Us Better People?
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Do Rejections Make Us Better People?

There are still many more days of failure ahead, whole seasons of failure, things will go terribly wrong, you will ...

Do Rejections Make Us Better People?

There are still many more days of failure ahead, whole seasons of failure, things will go terribly wrong, you will have huge disappointments, but you have to prepare for that, you have to expect it and be resolute and follow your own path.

 

—Anton Chekhov

 

Some schools of psychotherapy, such as exposure therapy, contend that rejection itself is not a problem, but the problem is rather our attitude towards it — specifically our fear of rejection. The idea with Rejection Therapy, for example, is that experiencing rejection is something we can learn from and use to build character, so long as we don’t take it personally. Confronting this fear and taking control can help us reach our true potential, especially in terms of our social life.

 

 

There are real world examples outside of the therapeutic world that lend credence to the idea of treating rejection as a strengthening, learning experience. Phenomenally successful author JK Rowling was rejected by 12 different publishers before Bloomsbury finally accepted the first Harry Potter manuscript. We all know that persevering in the face of rejection was the right decision for her.

 

Phillip Hodson of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy states that rejection can sharpen determination and competitiveness while providing an extra incentive to achieve. But while this desire to “prove the doubters wrong” may fuel ambition, is it psychologically healthy? In other words, shouldn’t succeeding be more for personal fulfilment rather than some kind of symbolic revenge? If the goal is to truly be a better person, the answer is obvious.

 

 

Of course rejection — both perceived and real — can be traumatising and lead to feelings of anger and loss, particularly among individuals vulnerable to depression. While examples of individual success can provide inspiration, in scientific terms they are exceptions to the rule. But rejections are a fact of life, so we’d be happier and healthier if we knew best how to handle them.

 

Rejection challenges our fundamental need as humans to belong. Those who are emotionally or psychologically vulnerable are especially open to the negative potential of being rejected. Research on brain activity during social rejection suggests that those with high self-esteem are better equipped to deal with it. So the conclusion may be that rejection can make us better, or it can make us worse. The deciding factors are how self-assured we are in the face of rejection and how adept we are at handling it.

 

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