Let’s talk about rejection.

You find someone you really like, and it doesn’t work out. He doesn’t feel the same.

Or, even worse, he does feel the same … for a while. Then he yanks the rug out from under you. Goodbye, heaven.

Everyone has to learn to deal with rejection at some point.

If you’re lucky, you dealt with it as a teenager and developed a thick skin. “He doesn’t like me? So what? I’m fabulous. He doesn’t know what he’s missing.”

If you weren’t so lucky, you felt the pain over and over again. Maybe you couldn’t deal with it, so you retreated. You let fewer and fewer men get close to your heart.

Nothing can stop the pain when someone you worship turns around and slams you to the ground.

But there are ways to reduce the impact of rejection on your life.

The first step is recognizing that rejection is just part of life. It’s nothing personal.

Sounds crazy, right? Of course rejection is personal! He’s rejecting YOU. How could that not be personal??

But there’s a different way to think about rejection.

When a man rejects you, all he’s saying is that you’re not the key that opens his lock.

It’s not easy to be a perfect match. You can be compatible in 99 different ways, but maybe the 1 way in which you’re not alike is the deciding factor.

Keys have to fit perfectly to turn a lock. They can’t fit partway. Maybe the key fits well enough to fit inside the lock, but not well enough to engage the mechanism that turns it.

Don’t blame the key. It can’t help being shaped the way it’s shaped. There’s no shame in not being the right key for the lock.

A man has to try a lot of keys before he finds the one that unlocks his heart. (You have to try a lot, too!) If he’s to be true to himself, he’s going to have to reject many of them. It’s nothing personal. They’re just not the right fit.

To steal a quote from Thomas Edison:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways [keys] that won’t work.”

Thomas Edison said something else fantastic about failure:

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Wouldn’t you hate it if, burned by the 10,000th rejection you received, you gave up and swore off men?

But, at that very moment, the perfect man for you was walking by?

He gives you a smile and a wink, but you’re feeling angry at the entire male race. So you deliberately hike up your chin and look away.

One chance. Blown. For good.

Which brings up the other important part of dealing with rejection:

Never losing your cool.

When something really hurts us, we all have a tendency to revert back to behaviors we employed as small children. Even adults have tantrums. They rage against the unfairness of life, throw themselves to the ground, and shout until they’re red in the face.

Others burst out in tears, inconsolable. Still others eat a gallon of ice cream.

We do these things because we’re trying to cope with pain that’s too big for us to handle.

Victor Frankl, Holocaust survivor and author of Man’s Search for Meaning, writes poignantly about how he managed to find personal freedom in a situation where death was but one wrong step away. He concluded:

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Between the moment of rejection and the anguished reaction, there is a space. In that space is the power to choose a different response.

When you fully inhabit that space, you find a new possibility arising. The possibility of responding with dignity.

Yes, he ended it. Yes, he just said he doesn’t want to be with you. No, that doesn’t have to hurt so much. Actually, you can be okay with it.

Why would you want to be with someone who doesn’t want you? That would be ridiculous.

You’re fabulous. You’re the perfect key for someone’s lock. Thank goodness you know now that you’re not a fit for him. He’s set you free to search out the right match.

Strangely, rejection is actually a valuable gift. It’s the gift of personal freedom. It sets you free to find the one who can love you the way you deserve.

Just don’t give up one smile short of finding true love.

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