Rejection Sucks: How to Reverse the Downward Spiral

Rejections suck—plain and simple. Especially when it’s something we really wanted for ourselves. Unfortunately, when we go through a rejection, all too often we don’t do ourselves any favors by reliving the rejection on repeat and questioning our previous accomplishments and capabilities.

I’m no exception to rejection and even recently, I found myself in a downward spiral from it. So much so that I even considered switching careers for a few minutes! 

Thankfully, I’ve had a good amount of practice knocking myself out of a rejection spiral over the years and I’m excited to share these steps for you to utilize the next time you find yourself questioning just how much of a badass you truly are.

Listen to the full podcast episode I created just for you on Apple Podcasts or on Youtube.

 Tip #1: Ask yourself  What am I making this mean?

Rejection comes with a lot of feelings and negative thought patterns. In the midst of those patterns, your mind is trying to find truth in what it’s telling itself. For example, you may take a step back in time to your first big childhood rejection and start to feed yourself familiar inner dialogue about how you’re not good enough or never seem to measure up to others. Take a moment to dig deeper into what you’re subconsciously telling yourself and if there’s any evidence to back up your current thought pattern. 

You can’t let this type of thinking stop you from going after your goals and aspirations. It’s important to remind yourself how you’ve powered through rejections before and haven’t let them stop you from achieving what you’re after. You have the power to achieve anything!

Tip #2: Don’t take it personally

I know this is easier said than done, but hear me out. Rejection is, more often than not, not about YOU as a person. I encourage you to create distance between yourself and rejection as it can help put situations into perspective. Also, be mindful of the way that you speak of your rejection to others or you may be reinforcing negative beliefs of yourself. For example, instead of “I was rejected”, try:

“My work proposal was rejected”

“My sale was rejected”

“My candidacy for that role was rejected”

“My school application was rejected” 

Lastly, don’t forget to consider that your rejection is not just about you and there could be a number of reasons that your plans didn’t work out the way you’d hoped. Perhaps it’s timing, circumstances, or a “not right now, maybe later”. Regardless, keep in mind that you are a holistic being that has so many different parts to yourself. So, a rejection in one thing doesn’t mean a rejection in everything. 

Tip #3: Build an Intervention List

While it’s okay to allow yourself to feel your feelings about rejection in the moment, it’s also your responsibility to pull yourself up. This last and final tip is going to help immensely when you’re trying to get yourself out of that stressed, anxious downward spiral and help you to reset. I call it an Intervention List. This is going to be a list of 3-5 things that you can rely on to help get you into a more positive headspace when you’re unable to think clearly or logically. 

I’m going to share the four items I have on my personal Intervention list as an example for you to build yours. The first tools two may seem familiar as they are referenced in Chapter One of my book, The Art of Badassery. The other two tools are additional examples of items you could also add to your Intervention List. 

  1. Create a greatest hits list. All you’ll need to get started is to grab a journal or piece of paper and jot down as many of your epic achievements as far back as you can. Whether it be getting into your dream school, landing your first job, or traveling to a new destination; think about all the times you’ve impressed yourself and write them down. Just like your mind seeks validation in negativity, this activity can counteract that by feeding your mind positive truths. Think of all the items on this list as your badges of honor or proof of badassery that you want to remind yourself of. 

If you want to take this a step further, try tapping into your feelings and sensations around those memories and achievements you list. What were you seeing? What were you feeling? What were you smelling? Immerse yourself in the memory and watch your mood and attitude elevate. 

  1. Practice a breathing technique. This will help to regulate your nervous system, mitigate stress, and bring you back to a clear headspace. Of course, you don’t need anything besides your breath to utilize this tool and there are various breathing techniques out there for you to try.

One of the quickest and easiest for you to try is the 4x4x4 breathing method, also known as box breathing. All you need to do is inhale for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of four, exhale for a count of four, and repeat as desired. It’s that simple. 

  1. Lift weights. One of the most effective tactics I can offer is to get out of your head and into your body. I always have a pair of dumbbells at the ready. Strength training can help to regulate your breathing to combat stress, anxiety, and get into a better headspace. Also, it raises testosterone, serotonin and dopamine, all of which are chemicals in your body that make you feel more calm, alert, and confident. As someone who uses this tactic often, I promise it won’t take much time before you feel the positive effects.
  1. Go for a walk. Sometimes getting out of your mental environment isn’t enough. Going for a walk gets you moving and out into nature. Again, you’re regulating your breathing, and your body will quickly start to release all those feel-good chemicals. So, head to a place you love and that pleases all your senses. A brisk walk can do you so much good!

Final Thoughts

Rejection is inevitable and it will happen as you continue to put yourself out there in pursuit of your goals. However, you don’t have time to be stuck in the muck of  feelings of self-doubt and unworthiness.

Utilizing tools and techniques like the three I’ve mentioned above will help you to get out of your negative thought patterns and reframe them into more positive ones that lead you back to hope, possibility, and creation.

Remember, you deserve to feel like a badass every single day.


Jennifer Cassetta is a nationally recognized keynote speaker, health and empowerment coach, and a 3rd-degree black belt in Hapkido.  After a brush with death on September 11th, 2001, three blocks south of the World Trade Center, Jenn took a deep dive into martial arts training where she learned how to harness the power of mind, body, and spirit. 

Now she teaches women from colleges to corporations how to unleash their inner badass by using dojo wisdom as a metaphor for life.

Remember to check out The Art of Badassery Podcast and follow or subscribe on your preferred podcast platform. Extra kudos if you leave a review with your thoughts on the episode!

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Check out my book The Art of Badassery for more on how to level up your mind, body and spirit; and how to turn your setbacks into secret weapons.