Dealing with Rejection

Rejection, when we’re just getting clean, can feel overwhelming, and cause our mood to plummet. We may react to a rejection by lashing out at the institution that rejected us. Crumpling the letter and throwing it on the floor may be juvenile and self-righteous, but it makes us feel better in the moment. Reacting in that manner can stop us from moving beyond rejection.

Having feelings is a good thing. It means we’re not numb. Think back to when drugs clogged some of our feelings, and sent others out of orbit.  If we’ve been rejected for some circumstance and don’t care, then that’s a red flag in which to pay attention.

In early sobriety we need to keep things simple. It’s not that we shouldn’t try for that new job, or ask someone out on a date. Rejection may or may not happen, but if we keep pushing ourselves, we’ll inevitably feel its pinch. For now, in early recovery, we can protect ourselves by staying away from high-risk endeavors. This means, we need to set realistic goals, and even then, keep our expectations in check. We’ll get where we need to go, and our view of where we need to go can change.

There’s a philosophical approach to rejection we can employ. When we are rejected we can say, that’s not an opportunity meant for me. Saying this can help alter the perspective we have of the rejection. Other types of rejections may not be alleviated by the opportunity not meant for me approach. We really wanted to have Thanksgiving dinner at our house this year, but a sibling says, no, I’m having it. He furthers the rejection by saying, besides everyone’s looking forward to playing ping pong on my new table. Telling him how we feel can help ease the pain of rejection.

Some of us, no matter our length of sobriety, seem to create rejection when none is intended. Jim didn’t answer our text message. We wanted to drive with him to the meeting. We jump immediately to rejection and resentment. We avoid texting Jim in the future and keep our distance from him. He doesn’t have a clue what’s going on with us. There can be many reasons why he didn’t get back to us. Maybe he had his phone on silence. Think how much better we would have felt if we simply asked him whether he got our message. Being overly sensitive in some situations can cause unnecessary pain and rejection.

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