The Art of Handling Rejection

Written by: 
Dani A. Castro

Romantic rejection is not a reflection of oneself or their worth, but instead is a chance to grow personally and find someone more compatible, according to those who have had their hearts broken.

For Hans Nieto, a sophomore from Ecuador studying business management, rejection hits hard because “it’s a situation where there’s someone who you want but can’t have.” It’s also difficult because you’re expressing your personal feelings to the person, he said, but they don’t share those feelings for you.

“Once, I really liked this girl and she rejected me. I was so sour. It was like I was stabbed in the heart - many times. I held on to those feelings for a long time. You can’t do that. It is natural, and with time those feelings of disappointment will go away, but you need to be conscious of how you’re letting yourself feel.”

Corbin Maciel, a freshman from Oregon studying English, reflected on a moment when he publicly asked a girl on a date but she said no. Seemingly embarrassed, he said, “I got through the situation with as much dignity as I could. It took me a couple of weeks to find the courage to ask a girl out [again].”

The remedy that helped Maciel overcome his rejection was his sense of humor. “I laugh about what happened and look back at it from a humorous perspective. It’s okay if I’m not the smoothest talking person in the world, but I’m working on it, trying my best. It wasn’t the end of the world.”

Some students experience a less confrontational type of rejection: disappearance. Saba Ramirez, a sophomore from Ecuador studying communications, shared, “I just wanted truth. He was gone, and he didn’t communicate with me anymore. Sometimes it can be hard to express yourself and what you’re feeling to someone else when this happens.” Ramirez added, “Especially if you’re opening yourself to someone from a different culture.”

Strength and self-love is what Ramirez found from contemplating her past. “You must learn to love yourself. It’s something you [should] do every day. By learning to love yourself, you can learn to love others again. Sometimes you’ll find yourself pushing a relationship that you know is not going to work. I did. Some things you have to let go.”

Leilani Auna, the director of BYUH Counseling and Disability Services and licensed clinical social worker, warned of consequences that come from handling rejection incorrectly. “People bottle up their feelings and they start thinking negative thoughts,” she said. “This can lead to emotional distress: anxiety, negative self-talk, low self-esteem, almost to the point of depression.

“We’re happy sometimes and sad sometimes. It’s normal.” The abnormality, she said, is when someone is sad all the time and “can’t eat, can’t sleep, can’t function properly.”

Auna instructed students to be open-minded about the reason refusal happens. “There may be a lot of reasons why that person is rejecting you. They have to work. They are shy. They can’t do it at this time. … It is not necessarily because they don’t like you or there is something wrong with you. Don’t judge because you don’t know what’s going on.”

For a relationship to be successful, both people must want to to be in it, Nieto emphasized. “A successful relationship is a team effort. Don’t forget that the other person has their agency too. We must recognize that you can like someone and think that they are the best person in the world, but if they don’t have those feelings for you, if there is no chemistry or a natural attraction, it doesn’t work.”

Ramirez said, “Avoid saying negative things about others.” She said she hopes students can maintain the loving and judgment-free atmosphere that should exist at BYUH, as well as be careful and not believe things that aren’t true.

Maintaining personal progress is advice shared by all those who were interviewed. Maciel shared, “Find something productive you can do with your time–reading a book, playing a sport, giving service. If you want to know what you can do, ask Heavenly Father in earnest prayer, and He will help you discover how you can improve and help you let it all go.”

Ramirez said she learned to adapt and to roll with the punches. “Life happens, and you have to be prepared for rejection. If someone has rejected you, maybe that person can’t see your worth, but someone will come and they will know that you are worth so much. They will value you. Just be you. Don’t pretend to be another person. Someone will show up one day and love you for who you are.”

Nieto wished to support those who have fallen due to rejection. “Rejection is an important part of success. If you let rejection make you think you’re a failure, you’ll turn into one. Don’t do that. Take rejection as a chance to learn.”

Expounding on that idea, Nieto also shared that “rejection can be helpful. It gives you an opportunity to put your cards on the table and analyze yourself, as long as you do it appropriately. It’s important, so when you move on you can be ready for the next opportunity that comes along. I have faith that things will work out.”

Auna continued, “The things that don’t work out can be blessings in disguise.”

The best foundation to build upon is Christ, Auna added. “We have to have good self-esteem, good self-confidence. The best example of this is Jesus Christ. No matter all the people who were talking stink about him, the lies, or saying negative things about him. He saw the bigger picture. He knew who He was. He was the Son of God. He knew his purpose when he came on this earth. He felt all the rejection you feel, all the sadness you have felt.”

Nieto ended with a statement that happiness isn’t only found in relationships, but also in personal growth. “I’ve learned to not let myself think I’m not good enough. If that special person doesn’t have those same feelings for you, it doesn’t make you any less than what you are. If you can realize how much you are worth, you won’t need to place your happiness or hopes on that one person.

“I’m happy with who I am and the achievements I’ve been blessed to have,” he said. I’m also grateful for the things that didn’t work out. They have made me who I am. I’m happy.”

Date Published: 
Monday, February 12, 2018
Last Edited: 
Monday, February 12, 2018