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How to Deal with Rejection in Early Recovery

One of the things that you may have to deal with in recovery is rejection. This type of event can be incredibly challenging because it can feel as a direct attack against your ego. If you take rejection the wrong way, it could easily lead to you losing motivation for recovery; you could then use it as an excuse to relapse. It is therefore vital that you learn how to deal with this type of event so that you can safeguard your sobriety.

Rejection Explained

Rejection describes a situation in which you perceive yourself as being unwanted. It is important to understand that rejection is a feeling and is not always a fair response to what has happened. For example, if you have low self-esteem, you may perceive rejection in even an innocent remark by a stranger.

Here are just some of the ways that you may experience rejection in recovery:

  • a loved one doesn't seem willing to forgive you for misdeeds when you were drinking or using drugs
  • somebody you are romantically interested in doesn't feel the same way
  • your romantic partner decided it is time to end the relationship
  • you don't get a job you apply for
  • you have lost your job
  • you apply for a bank loan but you are refused
  • you are not invited to a party or some other social occasion
  • somebody is ignoring your calls
  • somebody you respect in the 12-step meetings declines the invitation to be your sponsor
  • you are not selected for a team sport
  • you are not selected for an opportunity at work.

The above examples are just some of the events that could lead to you feeling rejected, but you could also react to most of these occurrences without taking it personally.

How to Deal with Rejection in Recovery

If you are dealing with something such as a relationship breakup or losing your job, it is natural to experience some initial suffering. This is just part of life, and there is nothing wrong with feeling this pain; in fact, it can be your attempts to avoid the discomfort that prolongs things and leads to unwise actions such as relapsing. It can be helpful to just focus on the physical sense of this pain (for example, you may have tension in your stomach) rather than getting obsessed with the stories in your head describing what has happened. You may have to spend a few days licking your wounds, but this is okay.

One of the most crucial things you need to be able to do when dealing with rejection is show yourself some self-compassion. If you have low self-esteem, you may have an inner dialogue that is overly critical and negative; this type of discursive thinking will enjoy kicking you while you are down. It is vital that you learn how to replace the inner voice with one that is more encouraging and supportive. If self-loathing is a real problem for you, it may be beneficial to try practices such as loving kindness meditation; you might also want to spend some time with a therapist.

The worst way to handle rejection is to just bottle it up inside. You need to talk to somebody you trust about how you are feeling and about what happened. If you have a recovery sponsor, this person can be a great resource to turn to right now. The benefit of sharing your feelings is that you get a new perspective on things - the act of sharing can also have a therapeutic effect because things always seem much worse when they are just knocking around inside of your head.

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