Dealing With Rejection in Recovery

“A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success.” – Bo Bennett, author of Year to Success

Let’s face it. Dealing with rejection is tough for any of us to handle. It doesn’t matter much if it’s the first time we encounter rejection or the hundredth. When it happens to us, we feel the pain. That may be because we all have an innate desire to be liked by others, or to regain their favor after we know we’ve hurt them, likely as a result of our past addictive behavior. But even the tiniest hint of rejection hurts. So, how do we deal with it? Without sounding too philosophical, the most important piece of advice to keep in mind is that we shouldn’t take it personally. What others think and feel and say is not in our control, nor should it be. Everyone has a free will, is possessed of free speech, and is capable, for the most part, of making their own decisions.

But hearing the advice that we shouldn’t take rejection personally is one thing. Actually being able to handle the rejection in stride is quite another. This is especially true for most of us in early recovery, but it can just as easily be difficult to handle when we have had many years of effective recovery.

When we are new to recovery, we often tend to make what we consider a lot of mistakes. We’re fresh to this sober lifestyle and may feel not only uncomfortable with it at first, but also uncertain what to do and when. We are likely grumpy at times, disconcerted, not up to par, whatever we want to call it and it all adds up to us not operating at maximum efficiency. We may say the wrong things, coming off harsh or insensitive. We may do the wrong things, misinterpreting our capabilities and going overboard in this or that, all with the best intentions.

When we see that we’ve made a miscalculation, our first thought should be to analyze what we did that failed to achieve the desired results. Then, make a course correction so that the next time we attempt that task or follow a particular coping strategy, for example, we’ve adjusted it to accommodate what we learned this time.

Some would call this turning failure into opportunity. What it really means is that instead of looking at rejection as a failure, we regard it as but one step in our learning process, one bit of vital instruction in our growth process, helping us heal. But what about dealing with the pain of rejection? How can we get over that? We can talk with our sponsor and fellow 12-step group members about how they’ve successfully dealt with rejection and probably come away with some good ideas. We know it isn’t always going to be easy. There will be challenges that may seem, at times, to be a bit overwhelming. It’s all a process and we take from it what we wish. If we’re really dedicated to our recovery, we will begin to regard rejection as an integral part of our growth, one that not only makes us stronger, but also keeps us in a forward-momentum mode.