How to Handle Social Rejection

Apr 19, 2023 | Anxiety, Depression, Mental Health, Self Esteem

Have you ever been picked last in a dodgeball game? It probably hurt a little as you anxiously waited for your name to be called. How about a fallout with your close friends? All of a sudden you are excluded from the group hangouts. You cannot sit with them at lunch or ride together for an event. 

Being ostracized from a social relationship or interaction is painful. Multiple studies show that the hurt resulting from ex-communication is as excruciating as the pain of a severe physical wound. Research has established that both rejection and physical injury activate the part of the brain that mediates pain. 

In one study, participants with physical injury and those going through social rejection had their brains scanned. The study revealed that both types of pain stimulated brain circuits that support the affective component of physical pain. Thus, showing that both kinds of aches are distressing. Furthermore, the research also showed that the distresses share similar somatosensory brain stems – Proving rejection does, indeed, hurt.

The study cohort representing rejection had people with severed friendships and lovers who had gone through a painful breakup. It did not matter the time the relationship ended. Just a picture of the loved one – and a recollection of the distress was enough to inflict pain on the participants. 

Social rejection has a significant impact on your psychological health. The trauma elicited in the exclusion is strong enough to trigger depression and anxiety. Mood disorders, in turn, exacerbate feelings of rejection. The feeling of being unwanted, unloved, or unappreciated increases your disinterest in socializing. After all, nobody wants to stay around people who have turned their backs on them. 

Additionally, rejection triggers feelings of worthlessness, self-hate, and self-harm. In one way, rejection is an outward stamp of not being good enough for someone or lacking excellent people skills. It exposes a person’s weakness for the rest of the world to mercilessly analyze. Its impact is worsened with the presence of social media – more people gloating and mocking. It is no wonder most rejected people resort to idealizing or attempting suicide. Research shows the first 31 days are the most probable for suicide attempts for people going through rejection

Despite the unfavorable findings, social rejection should not mean the end of living. There are better ways to handle rejection. Instead of tearing you down, this experience can build you up and make you stronger and wiser. If you are going through a fallout with a loved one, here are ways to help you get back up again. 


Acknowledge Your Feelings

It is easy to blame yourself for a breakup and see only your contribution to the failed relationship. However, even if it is all your fault, you should not sacrifice your feelings and emotions at the altar of forgetfulness. Your feelings and emotions are valid.  

Emotions and feelings are semantic pointers. Use them to assess your behavior and evaluate yourself. They also reveal our intentions and how we interpret situations. Sometimes it is hard to accept the findings unmasked by your feelings and emotions. However, do not resolve to suppressing or ignoring them. 

It is never a good idea to suppress emotions because the more you ignore them, the more you will dwell on them. Learn from them and do not trivialize them. Furthermore, get comfortable with tackling uncomfortable feelings and emotions. Do not suppress your pain, jealousy, insufficiency, resentment, or anger – let them make you better. Ask yourself pertinent questions. Why am I vengeful, angry, or miserable? Find out what you can do about what your emotions reveal. 


Be Compassionate to Yourself

A breakup with a friend or love interest can make you critical about your shortcomings. It sends you on a path of fault-finding and self-blame. You keep wishing you could have handled things differently or been more passive instead of aggressive. 

The truth is if you go around looking for your deficiencies, you will find them. Furthermore, your judgment, at this point, is impaired. Your reasoning is biased. You will end up blowing things out of proportion by making mountains out of molehills. 

Everything cannot be your fault because it takes two to tangle. Therefore, do not beat yourself down with self-accusations. You only end up reducing your value and demeaning your worth. Be kind to yourself. Approach your weaknesses with grace. Everybody – including you – deserves a second chance. 


Redefine Yourself Outside the Confines of Rejection

Do not make generalized fallacies about the rejection. Just because your love interest broke things off does not mean you are unlovable. You will find love again. Give yourself time to heal. Your friends may have missed the gem that you possess inside of you. 

Instead of giving up on your social life, embrace and welcome change. You have gotten a chance to start again. Therefore, make new friends, rediscover what you are about and make meaningful connections. Life always throws new opportunities your way. 

Refuse to wallow in self-pity and defeat. After you have mourned the dead relationship, get up, dust yourself, and get on with life. It is time to take on new ventures. 


Learn from the Failed Relationship 

Instead of drowning in misery because the relationship ended, analyze that failed relationship. Cry about the rejection and mourn over the severed ties, but do not let that period of your life go to waste. Make valuable lessons from it – what made it thrive? What were the pitfalls? What elements made things turn sour, and how did you contribute to its failure? 

Remember to remain rational in your assessment. Do not make blanket statements or let your preconceived notions interfere with your judgments. Make logical conclusions about your evaluations and strive to work on your weakness. 


Remember Your Worth

A broken relationship affects your self-esteem. It lets you magnify your shortcomings and scrutinize them under a microscope while making generalizations about your strengths. Wallowing in self-loathe can make you forget your values, virtues, and attributes that everybody else loves about you. 

Make a list of your strength and remind yourself that you are so much more than the rejection. You are capable of moving on beyond that tumultuous past. When the discouragements set in, counter the urge to ruminate by remembering your worth. 


Do not Give in to Negative Thinking

As you capitalize on self-exhortation, remember to discourage negative thoughts. Thoughts are powerful. They influence feelings, emotions, and behavior. They also affect motivation and mood. Find practical ways to regulate your thoughts. For instance, you can, 

  • Meditate – It helps you calm down and reflect on yourself. Self-reflection improves self-control. It is part of the controlled mind system that lets you intentionally focus on healing and moving on.
  • Listen to soothing music – music can improve your mood and distract you from the vicious rumination cycle. Music also releases feel-good biomolecules that help you relax, inhibit anxiety, and chemicals that sustain the condition. 
  • Reading – an idle mind is the most destructive mind frame. Reading a book is a good way to get your mind off the gutter.  
  • Physical workouts – any physical activity is good for the mind and body. Walking or jogging can improve your mood and help you make a better resolve as you exercise. It enhances mindfulness and enhances awareness of the environment around you. Exercising also releases endorphins that induce relaxation, and improve your mood, appetite, and sleep. 
  • Journaling – writing down your feelings, emotions, journey after rejection is another vital mindfulness habit. Journaling gets you in tune with your intentions, desires, and progress. 
  • Learn to stop the trajectory of your thoughts – thoughts have a predictable pattern of occurrence. When the cycle begins, find distractions that will keep you from indulging further. 
  • Know your triggers – identify the stimuli that get the ball of negative thinking rolling. You can either decide to face these triggers, avoid them or avoid them. 


Learning from Rejection Helps You Develop a Better Attitude Toward It

After going through rejection, you learn to identify social cues beforehand. You can tell when you are welcome or if friendships will last or are only temporary. You also learn to let go of relationships that have ended without taking the blame. 


See a Therapist

If the magnitude of your pain is beyond your ability to manage it, find a counseling psychologist to walk with you. A therapist has the resources and expertise to help you heal from the pain of rejection. 


Do Not Give Up

Life is full of breakups and makeups – people will accept you and reject you in the same breath. Nobody has gone through life without being turned down. It is part of being human. Accept that it is the cycle of life, and everybody goes through it at some point in life. 

Learn to embrace change and be swift in letting bygones be bygones. The past has no place in the present or the future. Therefore, let it remain where it is – in history. Detach your identity from the rejection and self-actualize. 

Most importantly, know that moving on is not easy. You cannot wish it into existence – you must go through the process. It is necessary for your growth and mental wellbeing. Therefore, keep going because healing is a journey. 


New Dimensions Can Help!

New Dimensions provide PHP and IOP services to adolescents and adults with mental health or substance abuse issues.  To learn more contact us 800-685-9796 or visit our website at  You can also visit our affiliate website at