Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Tracey Mitchell's new book, Downside Up: Transform Rejection into Your Golden Opportunity (Thomas Nelson, 2013).
Everyone encounters rejection in this fallen world. It may hit you as a major blow (such as a spouse’s betrayal or a job loss) or through one of the minor yet hurtful ways that rejection can blow into your life (like negative comments someone makes about you or opportunities that turn into dead ends).
As painful as rejection can be, it doesn’t have to work against you. Rejection can actually work for you if you use the experience as a springboard of opportunity to create a new season of success in your life.
Here’s how you can rely on God’s help to transform rejection into opportunity:
Understand how significantly your response to rejection will impact your life. The way you choose to respond to the rejection you experience will affect your confidence, your passion for living, and your potential for positive relationships. It will also determine which new opportunities God offers you. Responding negatively to rejection can destroy your dreams and discourage you, while responding positively can develop God’s dreams for you and help empower you to achieve them. Decide to redirect the pain of rejection by using it to design a better life and to motivate yourself to move forward into that life.
Ask God to help you view yourself as He sees you. Clear away the distorted view of you that rejection may have placed in front of your eyes and pray for a vision of how God sees you. Write down a list of all the wonderful, God-given qualities that make you unique and remind yourself of them when you need to view yourself from God’s perspective.
Overcome the desire to be perfect. Admit to yourself that you’re not perfect and can never be perfect, since you’re a fallible human being like everyone else. Stop trying to be perfect to please God or other people. Remind yourself that, even when others reject you, God will never reject you because He loves you completely and unconditionally. Refuse to listen to unproductive negative words from other people. Instead, renew your mind by reading and meditating on Bible verses that describe God’s love for you and asking the Holy Spirit to bring those verses to mind whenever you need encouragement or need to replace a negative thought with a positive one. Pray for the Spirit’s help changing your internal dialogue throughout each day, so that you tell yourself positive messages rather than negative ones. Rather than getting upset about your weaknesses, focus on your strengths. Instead of aiming for perfection, aim for excellence and simply try to do your best each day. Develop achievable goals, relax, be flexible, and embrace change.
Overcome fears of abandonment. Ask God to show you how you can rely on Him to help you thrive after other people have rejected you. Keep in mind when dealing with the uncertainty of human relationships that you can always count on God’s constant presence with you and steadfast love for you.
Eliminate unhealthy relationships and focus on healthy ones. Honestly consider the value of each of your current relationships. Pray for the wisdom to determine which people in your life right now either are or aren’t worthy of your trust, time, and energy. Ask yourself who influences your life in positive ways, as well as who impacts it in negative ways. Let go of unhealthy relationships and focus only on people with whom you truly have safe and positive relationships. From now on, choose to invest only in relationships in which you can participate in a healthy flow of mutual commitment and contribution.
Heal from romantic rejection before entering a new romantic relationship. Don’t rush into a new romance before you’ve had a chance to heal from the pain of being rejected by your former romantic partner. Ask God to help you learn whatever He wants you to learn from your breakup or divorce, and to help you overcome any struggles with insecurity or jealousy. If you’re still in a romantic relationship but your partner is rejecting you by mistreating you, release him or her if you’re not married and seek counseling if you’ve already made a marriage commitment. Refuse to settle for less than God’s best for your dating relationships, and if you’re married, do your best to work toward the goal of a healthy and fulfilling marriage.
Manage rejection from dysfunctional family members. Since all families are made up of broken people who hurt and sometimes reject their fellow family members, don’t be surprised if you experience rejection even from someone in your family. Realize that rejection is more about the other person’s inability to love than it is about your worthiness for love. Only God can love you perfectly, and you can always count on Him to do so. Instead of wasting your time and energy trying to keep the love of a family member who has rejected you, focus on drawing closer to God so you can experience more of His love in your life. Protect yourself from dysfunctional family members by setting up boundaries in your relationships with them.
Aim for truth in all situations. If you allow yourself to be less than honest in any situation, you make yourself vulnerable to being manipulated and used by people with selfish intentions. Ask God to give you the courage you need to tell yourself and others the absolute truth, even when it’s uncomfortable to do so.
Improve the way you communicate. Aim to communicate positive words to others in all of your relationships. Learn what you can from criticism, but don’t let it discourage you. Communicate regularly with God through prayer and meditation.
Let go of the past so you can move forward well. Don’t hold onto anything damaging or unproductive from your past. Seek God’s healing so you can then: discover healthy relationships, exchange pain for joy, experience freedom from past wounds, and develop and grow to your fullest potential.
Pursue God’s dreams for you. If rejection has killed some of your dreams in the past, don’t hesitate to let yourself dream again. Ask God to show you His dreams for you, and to give you the courage and opportunities you need to pursue them. Look forward to what your future will bring as you trust God to help you make those dreams come true.
Adapted from Downside Up: Transform Rejection into Your Golden Opportunity, copyright 2013 by Tracey Mitchell. Published by Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, Tn., www.thomasnelson.com.
Tracey Mitchell travels frequently sharing biblical principles and wisdom with diverse audiences throughout America at conferences. Tracey’s real life experiences have enabled her to identify with the hurting, lonely, and rejected. Whether speaking to men, women, corporate CEOs, or the homeless, Tracey’s love and passion for rewriting the lives of the brokenhearted make her messages relevant and empowering.
Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years. Visit her website at: whitneyhopler.naiwe.com.
Publication date: May 30, 2013