Rejection is something we have all faced and will continue to face in various capacities throughout our life. Although it is a hard thing to manage, it is a necessary part of life and there are certain ways to deal with rejection. There is a really great TED Talk that addresses the importance of practicing emotional first aid. Throughout the talk the speaker addresses why and how we face rejection and the right way to deal with it.
Rejection triggers a response in our brain that is an innate survival skill. In early stages of human existence, exclusion from a pack or tribe could mean death. This meant that when we started to feel rejection, we were thrown into fight or flight mode to regain acceptance with others in our group. While the ramifications are less severe for modern day rejection, the implications and the emotional response from our brain is strong.
Throughout our lives we face rejections on a spectrum of severity. When we are young, we might find someone who does not want to play with us. Moving into adolescence, we might experience romantic rejection. As we enter adulthood, rejection comes with loftier consequences. Rejection from a school or a job or an apartment can leave us in quite a predicament. Because rejection tends to increase in severity as we age, it is important to teach our children to deal with rejection at a young age.
The TED Talk mentioned above discusses the hurt we feel from rejection and how we can deal with it in a way that is emotionally healthy. The speaker stresses the importance of focusing on the good attributes and qualities you possess. Although you weren’t qualified for the job, you are a great speaker, a skilled artist, a loyal friend and a hard worker. If you focus on what you lack, your brain will continue to spiral into self-pity and self-criticism. As a parent, you can help your child learn these skills by talking through their rejection. If a friend doesn’t want to play with her, remind the child that it is okay for some people to not want to play with her. Encourage the child by telling her what makes her a good friend to others. Similarly, if your teen faces romantic rejection, remind him the desirable attributes that you see in him and assure him that there is someone out there that will value these characteristics as much as you do.
Rejection will always be a part of our lives. We may experience phases without it, but the opportunity for rejection will always exist. Because we know that rejection triggers an emotional response in our brains, it is important to learn ways to cope and manage this response. We should practice emotional first aid in our own lives, but we should also teach these skills to our children. With this capability, they will be more equipped to handle real world rejection.