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Hidden Grief—3 Strategies for Healing from the Grief of Rejection

When was the last time you experienced grief? A 360 view of grief may offer some perspective. It sure did for me.

People often associate grief with death alone, but I wager you’ve experienced grief in the last few days, not years. Consider grief over (a) lost or failed:

  • Marriage
  • Healthy child
  • Prodigal child
  • Friendship
  • Health 
  • Dreams
  • Hope
  • Job or promotion 
  • Financial stability
  • Routine 
  • Normalcy
  • Comfort or security

And then there are the missed opportunities:

  • Making the team
  • Landing the job
  • Securing the date
  • Receiving the invitation 
  • Getting the call
  • Acceptance in the group

Because we live in a messed up, broken world, loss and grief are inevitable. 

But there’s hope! Let’s first unpack grief over missed opportunities.

Missed opportunities, generally cloaked in unmet expectation, cripple us if allotted the loudest space in our head. Convoluting this unhappy duo, unmet expectations and rejection represent 2 sides of the same coin.

And let’s not forget the fear of missing out, or FOMO, exponentially increased as a societal affliction in recent years by social media. FOMO can be as destructive as rejection and sometimes even mistaken for it. 

The pain immobilizes us if unrecognized—or worse, left unchecked. And if allowed the space faith should occupy, rejection sends us spiraling into anxiety, defeat and depression.


Fear of rejection can make us think small and act even smaller. Theo Tsaousides

How do I know? Disarmed by trauma, ignorance and feelings of worthlessness, I sat in grief of all kinds. 

So how do we crawl out of the pit of grief when rejection dismantles us? Through my process of coming from the pit to freedom in Christ, I discovered 3 strategies disarming rejection’s dominance over my thoughts, beliefs and actions.

1. Recognize the grief for what it is.

Tracing grief to its roots, I uncovered fear. Unidentified or unchecked fear of rejection leads to a plethora of compensatory strategies, none of them healthy:

  • People-pleasing
  • Passivity / defeatism
  • Manipulation
  • Passive-aggressiveness
  • Over-committing
  • Comparison
  • Jealousy
  • Greed
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

It took counseling for me to see the dysfunction and debilitation, but it depends on your past—trauma requires professional help. Otherwise, a trusted friend or mentor may see what you cannot. 

My counselor helped me identify the what of grief. For me, I experienced both real and perceived rejection among other issues.

2. Identify the triggers sending me spiraling back into the pit.

Triggers—different for everyone—are discovered through counseling, reflection and journaling. Mine?

  • feelings of worthlessness
  • focusing on the negative–in people and circumstances
  • filling in the gaps
  • fretting about an unknowable future

When old feelings rise, I must be intentional about identifying them for what they are—lies. And knowing my sensitivity to negativity, I set boundaries regarding what I listen to, watch and allow myself around.

Filling in the gaps, a phrase my pastor used, hit home for me. When I find myself worrying about unknowns, I’m assigning “truths” to circumstances and people I can’t possibly know.

  • They didn’t text back—they’re angry.
  • She didn’t call—she no longer cares.
  • I wasn’t invited on the outing—no one likes me.

3. Develop strategies to reset my mind, shifting perspective.

Working through my grief, we incorporated strategies like:

  • journaling thoughts about myself, unedited, identifying the lies I believed
  • working through *recommended books and videos, implementing the practices
  • developing healthy boundaries and communication
  • intentionally resisting the tendency to isolate, developing plans for connection and service.

One of the most important mindset shifts—believing what God says about me—became the cornerstone of developing healthy perspectives and relationships.

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits… Think about things of heaven, not the things of earth. Colossians 3:1-2

Preaching to myself daily—

—strengthens my resolve to process grief and move to a place of freedom and joy in Jesus.

Far from having arrived, I’m inching towards security in Christ rather than my circumstances. I still have bad days with lost perspective.

So have you figured out when and what you last grieved? Are you still grieving?

We can allow ourselves to feel…whatever feelings arise that are part of our grieving. Just as we grieve and gradually heal when someone close to us dies (often with the support of friends), we can heal when faced with rejection. PsychCentral

Let’s walk the path to healing and purpose together! What steps can you take today to work towards freedom and joy in the knowledge of your true identity—God’s beloved, and discovery of your purpose—walking with Him in each season of life?

It may be a particularly tough season for you, but hang on. Healing is possible. Or it may be sunny sailing with small grievances easily resolved. Whatever it is, take the next step, no matter how small—closer to healing with the One who loves you and will never leave your side. 

*Recommended books: Safe People, Cloud & Townsend;  Changes that Heal, Cloud

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