Moving past rejectionBy Dr. Ruth Westheimer
When you stop growing at only 4’ 7”, as I did, you expect to face some difficulties. A lot of potential partners are going to automatically reject you because of your height. I certainly encountered some of this when I was young, though in the end my height didn’t stop me from finding partners or becoming successful. Of course, life is always throwing us curves, and to the degree that overcoming the occasional obstacle makes you appreciate what you have, that counterbalances to some extent having to overcome such hurdles.
But what about when you find yourself facing rejection over and over not because of some random occurrence but because of who you are, either because of your age, sex, race, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or even your height? How do you move past that type of rejection?
Handling the pain
As a behavioral therapist, I teach my clients two important coping mechanisms. You have to begin by understanding that you should never try to stifle emotions. In the end, you’ll suffer psychological damage. So you need to let emotions like sadness or anger vent. The key is to not let such emotions take over your life, so set a time limit as to how long you allow yourself to feel their effect. If you’ve been rejected and that has set off some emotions inside you, it’s all right. But then do this: look at the clock and once five minutes has gone by, push those negative emotions to the side.
How do you manage this? I keep a file drawer full of mementos of wonderful moments I’ve experienced and letters of praise I’ve received. I reach into that drawer, pull out a couple, read them, and whatever negative cloud was hanging over me disappears. Find your own aid or crutch and use it when the time comes rather than wallow in rejection. That will only make whoever rejected you come out the winner rather than just being a nasty individual who is being quickly erased from your memory banks.