How to Master Rejection

(and Let it Guide You to Be Fully Alive)

ShoomKloom Editorial Staff

This morning, right before my sales pitch, I saw myself thinking: ‘I so hate to do this. I feel like an idiot. Like a beggar. Needy and totally obnoxious. Who wants this?

I felt worse with each thought:

‘I won’t know what to say. I will mumble, start panicking  and be totally blank.

And in the end all I will get is a big: NO! And be rejected again.’

Sounds familiar?

We all have been rejected. In love and relationships, at work, in our family. No life area escapes rejection – no matter how hard we try.

And we all know how it feels like – like shit.

So we all decided that we want nothing to do with rejection. Moreover – we do everything possible to avoid it.

Being rejected easily hooks into our belief that we are not good enough. We immediately start comparing ourselves with the conclusion that others are (doing things/living life) better than us.

Do you agree?

In this blog I will share with you some (literally) mind blowing tools and techniques on how to master rejection. And even better – to use rejection as your guide to be fully alive. 

But first let me share some scientific background and ground breaking research about rejection.

The Science Behind Rejection

Once we had the technical equipment, neuroscience was able to start digging into these questions:

  • What happens to the brain when we are rejected?
  • Is there a difference between actual and imagined rejection?
  • How painful is rejection compared to actual physical pain?

It was time for some answers why most of us are struggling so much with being rejected. (And believe it or not, the ones who don’t admit it are the ones which are struggling the most).

Rejection and physical pain are no different to the brain according to scientists

A neuroimaging study by Naomi I. Eisenberger and colleagues shows the following:

The results from testing exclusion (being strongly rejected as one is being outcast) are paralleling the results of actual experienced physical pain.

Translated: Rejection hurts physically.

These results were supported by a study at the University of Michigan with the following experiment:

Part 1: Relived rejection

People were shown pictures of their ex-partners and they were instructed to relive (think about and feel) the painful rejection they experienced.

Part 2: Physical pain

For that, test subjects had probes put on their forearm so that it could get extremely hot. Simulating a spilled hot coffee.

The results were indistinguishable.

Both, the affective (emotional) part as well as the physical sensation (sensory) part of the brain were affected the same during the test.

Rejection hurts just the same as physical pain does. The brain actually does not differentiate between the two.

Now, is not that astonishing?

The one big difference between rejection and physical pain

There is one more thing you need to know:

Humans are unable to imagine (pre-act) physical pain.

You can try it out now. Imagine your next headache. Does it work?

Your brain will not let you do it.

This is quite huge. We know now that the reactions in our brains are the same whether physical pain or rejection is inflicted on us.

But only rejection is truly imaginable. Humans are capable of reliving and experiencing rejection again and again.

In fact, most of us are experts in imagining the next rejection, such as:

  • He will not say yes to the date
  • I will not be invited to the party
  • They won’t like my latest post
  • I will not be chosen for the job
  • She will rather meet up with someone else
  • They will not like me

just to name a few.

Is there a difference between actual and imagined rejection?

We are able and imagine all those scenarios of being rejected. It is like a movie we are playing in our own heads. And when we do so – it feels absolutely real.

But it does not just feel real.

It came as a surprise to the scientific community. And it might be one for you:

There seems to be actually no difference at all if the rejection was real or imagined. The brain areas suggesting physical and emotional pain responded similar in both situations.

No wonder we all fear and hate rejection.

Rejection gives us the double dose:

We feel pain when we are being rejected AND we feel pain when we imagine or relive being rejected.

That’s worse than physical pain – which we feel once only. And that is, when it is actually happening (like spilling coffee on our arm).

I have always dreaded rejection. I ran away from being rejected as fast as I could.

In fact, I was so fast rejecting others that they didn’t even have a chance to reject me.

So what is the real story behind rejection?

Do you know this?

I reject you before you can reject me.

The question is: whom is rejecting whom?

It started in the sandpit or even earlier. We slowly learned to trick ourselves so that it would not hurt when the other kid does not want to play with us.

In an oversimplified way this is what happened:

We began protecting ourselves by saying what we don’t want (isolate and retreat) or by being pushy in reaching our goals (become agressive). Both of these tactics – these are only the two main ones – are put into place so that we do not (or less) feel the pain of being rejected.

We do it once, twice and before long they turn into habits and a way of being.

That is the point where we don’t even realize any longer that it was and is us who is tricking and rejecting (ourselves) first.

Can you see it?

We start blaming the world for what originally we started to do against ourselves.

The crazy thing is that I didn’t know it. I really thought that I was the one constantly being rejected (mostly by men). That I just wasn’t sexy enough, or too much or whatever story I could come up with.

I didn’t see that in my fear of rejection I was being harsh and unfriendly. I was pushing the people away who just wanted to be close to me.

I played my games (of being a true b*tch) so that nothing and nobody could hurt me. And to top it all, I thought of myself as „poor me“ and got depressed.

That’s pretty mad, right?

The Fear of Rejection in Modern Life – Are We Really at the Mercy of Our Old Reptilian Brain Habits?

With fearing of being excluded, abandoned and not belonging our social animal is triggered deeply.

We simply are fearing that without being part of a group we will not survive.

Here is the reason:

In our past as hunters and gatherers, we were not able to survive alone. So nature did all to make sure we stay close to the tribe. It arranged that social rejection hurts the same as physical pain.

By adopting to the rules and behaving correctly our ancestors avoided getting kicked out. That way they made sure they survived.

Does this behavior still make sense today?

Today, our brains are still telling us the same.

Often this gets translated into: we will not be happy alone (romantic love ideal). But if you look closely, the madness which is happening in relationships would not be happening if underneath there wasn‘t a deeper fear – the fear of survival.

Look at some examples of rejection today:

  • He does not want to talk with me
  • She never thinks about me
  • They totally ignored me
  • She did not call me back
  • He wants to divorce me
  • They gossip about me

Now, ask yourself: Are these survival issues?

For real, even if you do not get the job or are having a divorce. Will you die of this? Will you not be provided for? Not have food, clothing and shelter?

I am not suggesting, these rejections do not hurt.

As seen in the above, science shows us that they actually really do.

But the real question is:

Who will have the upper hand? 

Our fear of rejection, or

Living life to its fullest (which includes being rejected and experiencing pain)?

3 Simple Tools: How to Master Rejection in Your Daily Life

#1: Check it! Is the rejection for real or just in your imagination

Look at how you perceive rejection and check the reality. You can use some of the following questions as a start:

  • Am I really being rejected right now or am I imagining things?
  • Am I the one who is rejecting?
  • Am I making up a story because it fits better?

Check out your story – your thoughts – when you think you are being rejected. Be like a scientist who conquers unknown new territory: your own mind.

Some rejections are real. At times everyone gets rejected. Somebody says „no“ to a date or you do not get that job.

Others are simply in our heads and act as self-fulfilling prophecy.

Starting to see the truth about how your mind is trying to trick you will give you a boost in not wanting to fall for it.

#2: Watch it! Use your real life rejections to see your self judgments

When you get a „No“ – use the time. Have a look at your stories which starting to grow and grow the more you mindf*uck about it.

It can look like that:

  • I didn’t get a like from her on my newest profile pic
  • What a b*itch
  • But what if the picture was not nice
  • I should have put another one
  • I look a bit fat on this one
  • No wonder I don’t get more likes
  • I am just ugly no matter what I try

You might think I am joking. But this is what is happening in our heads all the time. And it’s just the start. This list continues on forever and ever.

Have a look and see what are your thoughts from a simple „No“ that someone is saying and where you are ending up with it.

#3: Stop it! Use your capacity to discontinue your thought trail

Now, that you are able to see this jumpy mind of yours (you might find it as funny as I do) – you have a choice.

You can “cut out” all the “follow up” thoughts of the original (rejection) one which there was:

  • I didn’t get a like from her on my newest profile pic

That’s it. You simply did not get a like. That’s a fact. Nothing more and nothing less.

Unless you and your mind are making it more with interpretations, self judgments, memories of past rejections or an idea that it will never change.

Get it?


You can turn it around.

Use the energy which usually goes into the endless list of tag along thoughts into letting your creative juices flow.

Just imagine what space there is when you do not go along with this list and how much energy you have for the things you really want to do.

You will actually have time and energy to do it.

Most important of all: Try it out!

And let us know how it works for you.

Truth is that today I have a choice when making a sales pitch.

I can pick up the phone as a victim of my fear and expectations. Attempting to not get rejected but preparing for the worst.

Like in the old days with the other kids in the sandpit – just with some more wrinkles.

Or, I can pick up the phone without being prepared. I can actually listen to the other person, meet him or her in the conversation.

And then, there is the possibility of me saying what comes out of the moment. I can respond instead of react.

And the call actually becomes a playground for creativity and fun.

Get Our Newsletter Freshly Delivered to Your Inbox

* indicates required

5 Tips To Release Your Sadness (and Let Your Life Be Joyful)

Have you noticed how babies cry with ease? They don’t have any filters, images or ideas about themselves. They don’t think about what their sadness could mean. They are just expressing what is in the here and now. You see, a baby cries in the moment without thinking: ‘I will not look good when I cry.’, without analyzing: ‘Is this a good time to cry or will I upset someone?’, without judging: ‘I should …

How to Stand up for Yourself at Work

“I’ve always been a horrible team player. So to change that I learned loads about consensus, compromise and collaboration. But truth is that none of this stuff ever really worked for me. It all turned out to be empty promises of a shore I would never see (getting pretty poetic here).

How to Make Sure You are Having a Great Date (or not)

“Tomorrow I have a date with a man I really like. So I want this date to be really good. If it is perfect … everything will be wonderful. We will date again, be a couple, get married and walk off into the sunset … or so the story goes. That has been my romantic dream all my life.”
Most of us have a lot of expectations when we are having a date. We want…

How to Master Rejection (and Let it Guide You to Be Fully Alive)

“The crazy thing is that I didn’t know it. I really thought that I was the one constantly being rejected (mostly by men). That I just wasn’t sexy enough, or too much or whatever story I could come up with. I didn’t see that in my fear of rejection I was being harsh and unfriendly. I was pushing the people away who just wanted to be close to me. I played my games (of being a true bitch) so that nothing and nobody could hurt me. And to top it all I thought of myself as … “

The 3 Most Significant Tips to Drop Your Negative Self Image

We all have it: that imaginary picture in our head of ‘Who we think we are’. Thoughts of our self image make us feel either happy or bad about ourselves. Often they circle around in our head while we add non stop commentary. In reality, thoughts pass through the mind and don’t need to mean anything about ‘who we are’. A thought just comes and goes…

How to Overcome Fear and Anxiety Instantly (and to Live Happily Ever After)

“Oh shit was the first thought I used to wake up to almost every morning. This first thought led to another and immediately my mind started racing in comparing myself to everybody. I should get up earlier, work harder, have a partner, a family  and a house, be more aware, look healthier and younger.”

How to Avoid the Christmas Blues

I cherish the feeling of the Christmas season, the flickering streetlights lightening up the winter darkness, the smell of wood fires and Christmas trees, the coziness of a decorated home…But don’t you just hate the whole media hype around Christmas? Those layers of expectation, more and more presents and glittery clothes to buy and having to make that day one of the best days of the year.

How to Live Your True Purpose (and Go Beyond Your Doubts and Obstacles)

“All my life I have looked for a meaning. I ran once around the world, looking for it everywhere, missing the Olympic Games by 0.45 seconds. I spent 400 dollars on the suit for my first interview. I have lived on 400 dollars a month. I cleaned toilets. I cried and screamed in therapy. I made friends and I lost sight of them. I stayed in five star hotels and I put myself in a mental hospital. I fell in love many times. I had my heart broken the same amount of times. And was always on the run – looking for the answer: What am I here for?

How to Deal with Your Social Anxiety and Shyness

Social Anxiety; What it looks like, what is the cause of it, how we cope with it and steps to shift it…

Social anxiety or social phobia creates the following labels about you: withdrawn, aloof, shy, timid, quiet, awkward, nervous and fearful. Others might perceive you as disinterested, arrogant, judgmental or snobbish. Your fear results from….

How to be Free of Shame and Guilt with Masturbation

“When I was 8 years old, my mom and dad walked into my room, while I was rubbing myself on a pillow. I had no idea that there I did something ‘wrong’ – that it was shameful and not to be done. But I immediately knew it in that moment. I saw it in their eyes and body movements before they even spoke the words: ‘What are you doing? That‘s just simply not done! Stop doing that!’”

Develop Self Love (and Strengthen Your Relationship)

‘It’s not your job to like me; it’s MINE!’ Byron Katie

Love is to be nurtured within yourself. Self love doesn’t require the presence of the other.

Once you know what love is about, you are free to love. Then love becomes a natural expression of yourself and is no longer something you are looking for or feel you are lacking.

How to End Shame and Stress about Facial Hair or any Body Issue!

Do you have facial hairs and feel ashamed of them? Is there a part of your body you dislike and want to change?
Some of us experience body shame which is an extreme form of negative body image. Maybe you believe that you can’t love your body or that you are not worthy to be loved just the way you are…

How to Be Kind and True to Yourself (or From Compromise to Compassion)

We have learned (and finding loads of literature) about the goodness of compromise – the art of compromise. We believe that compromising will get us ahead in life. We mistake compromise for love. We think great relationships need compromise. We all grew up with this belief system. We drank it in our mother milk.
But does that mean it is true?

How To Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

Comparison really sucks! Maybe a blunt statement but I am speaking here from my own experiences. I have been in agony comparing myself to others and created stress for no reason. When I see this comparison from a distance; it is easy to tell myself: ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING? JUST STOP IT!’

How to Love Your Parents as an Adult (even if they Are Getting on Your Nerves)

“Why can she just not stop telling me what to do as if I am 6 years old (I am actually 47)? Being back home at my parents place is the ultimate test. No matter how much I prepare or tell myself that this time I will not be triggered and react – there she is again in full flavor: my mum. Again she is telling me: ‘You must eat your eggs without salt.’ Next thing I know is her shoving …

How to Heal Your Broken Heart Today (and Find True Love)

When your heart is broken it can feel to you like you are dying. I remember break-ups in my life where I really thought that this is what the end would feel like. How little did I know that I could not be further away from truth.

How to Stop Believing ‘I am not good enough’ (and See that it Is a Ridiculous Lie)

‘I am not good enough’ has been my mantra throughout my life. Really! This thought I wrapped around myself like a precious piece of clothing. It acted like a filter through which I would perceive myself in all kind of circumstances: meeting a men, thinking I am not attractive or engaging enough. At work, thinking …


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.