Thriving After Rejection or Loss: Strategies for Bouncing Back

There was a four-month period where I lost an executive role on a timeline not of my choosing, and someone very close to me passed away. For a while, I was so lost I even binge-watched Outer Banks on Netflix after I exhausted other more age and genre-appropriate options. One friend lovingly shared that I might be the only non-teenage girl to ever watch it!

This blog will focus more on the loss of role and no doubt will have a cathartic result, but that is not my reason for writing it. Since this rough patch, that happened now over a year ago, I have had numerous discussions with others who have struggled with similar loss and how some of the old-school advice hadn’t really helped. One friend who had suffered a business partnership loss recently asked me how I got through it, so I took some time to reflect on what I handled well, and other aspects not so well that I think may be of value.

First, I’d like to point out that we all process things differently so this is not a strict play-by-play recommendation. It takes some longer to heal than others, and some events cut deeper than others and therapy sessions are a great idea. One mistake I made early on was to try and sprint through the stages of grief with intention and purpose, and not give myself the chance to acknowledge the emotions of sadness and anger. When talking about my circumstances, I was stoic and had all the right answers. You know the old cliché “When one door closes another one opens” type stuff. And while this is true, it was less than authentic for me to utter words like these and not acknowledge the pain as well. Well, those emotions came anyway and probably lingered a bit more since I buried them right out of the gate.

The craziest part about it all, the loss of this career role was a good thing, as it moved me closer to the dream I had already planned to pursue. I started preparing for Momentors three years earlier, purchased the domain, wrote the business plan, and pursued additional training in the evenings and on weekends. It wasn’t my timing to leave though, and the fact that someone else had made the decision made such an illogical yet real difference in how I processed it.

Process the Loss

So, this was my pathway, which is much clearer now in the rearview mirror. I know this clarity would have been helpful for me going through it, so I hope it is helpful for you if you are dealing with something similar. At the time, it was messy and not linear. There were beautiful moments with family and successes along the way, it wasn’t all bad. But it was pretty bad at times.

  1. Feel the emotion… The acknowledged stages of grief are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. If I may be so bold as to add one more that permeated most of the stages? Confusion. I should have heeded this advice by Jay Shetty, “Don’t ignore or suppress your feelings. Identify them. Only then can you move forward with purpose and clarity.” It took me a while to get there. And if that’s not enough and we continue to fight our emotions, as Carl Jung offers, “What you resist persists.” I resembled that remark. To feel the emotion does not mean to feed the negative emotion. Work through the rest of this process to try and avoid replaying the negative event repeatedly, or ruminating on how you were wronged by someone, or complaining about how something wasn’t fair.

  2. Reflect on the experience… John Maxwell said, “Experience is not the best teacher; evaluated experience is.” This is spot on. Some people experience things and don’t grow, and others get stronger as a result. This is an important choice to make. Now is the time to think through what happened, what you did well, and what you might do differently. And please hear this, if you handled whatever scenario with integrity and in alignment with your values, you have a major win already. If not, be careful about beating yourself up too much here, move on to step 3 and give yourself a little grace. If you improve as a result, well, you will probably end up defining the challenge/loss as a win one day.

  3. Journal…This is a big one. There are many ways to do this so I won’t go too deep here with advice. Let’s keep it simple. Each day write down three things you are grateful for. And, if some event or problem is nagging at you, or you think something was unfair or you didn’t handle something well, take the three questions above and write out the answers on a separate piece of paper. You may need to do this for a period of time and let what you write down evolve. What happened? What did I do well? What would I do differently? It may be a paragraph, it may be pages long. When you feel good about your answer, read it and commit it to a lesson learned. Guess what, you can stop thinking about it now. You’ve locked in the lesson, and now you can do whatever ritual you want with that piece of paper. Burn it, trash it, keep it as a lesson for someone else down the road, whatever you want.

  4. Reframe your current situation…In the darkest moments, it’s super hard to understand that the challenges you face and overcome are what shape you and inspire you to your greatest achievements. Think about your toughest times in the past, I bet there was growth through each one of the experiences and that made you who you are today. Better equipped to overcome future challenges and to make a more valuable contribution to the world. Better in your relationships, better as a parent, better as an employee, leader or entrepreneur, better as a person.

  5. Devise the plan of action…Not retaliation! It’s time to move forward. It’s growth. It’s game on! One thing I did very well through my career challenge is to continue to be supportive of my former employer. I received many calls and texts after the news broke and, in every instance, reinforced the company and the team in place. The plan of action should be what are you moving towards next? After a career loss, what is your dream? What is your purpose? What is your vision for your life? After a relationship loss, personally or professionally, what are things you enjoyed about that person, what would you look for that might be different? How are you going to attract that new person? Or would you benefit from time alone? What’s the plan? Write it down, even if it’s only two or three next steps.

  6. Forgive and move on…This might be the toughest part if you feel you were wronged by someone. One To Grow On has an entire module dedicated to the concept of Forgiveness, here is the introductory blog: First Is Forgiveness – Momentors ( In The Book of Forgiving, Desmond Tutu writes, “It seems there is no end to the creative ways we humans find to hurt each other, and no end to the reasons we feel justified in doing so.  There is also no end to the human capacity for healing.  In each of us, there is an innate ability to create joy out of suffering, to find hope in the most hopeless of situations, and to heal any relationship in need of healing.”

  7. Do the self-worth work… What I learned through all of this, and frankly I knew better, was that I had too much of my self-worth wrapped up in a decision someone else made about me. It wasn’t even a performance-related issue, it was simply a financial move that many others would endure as well. The issue was, that I allowed the loss of my role to negatively impact my self-worth. Not my finest hours. Please hear this, you are so much more than your title, your story or what someone else thinks of you. You are not your past. You are a person of tremendous value no matter any of these external things.

When my stepfather got sick a few months later and then passed away in a really short period of time, that really put things into perspective on the job loss. And a whole new level of grief came with it. One note on this that has helped me over the years with the loss of family members and close friends. I want to properly honor them and the impact they had on me. I have a list I keep in the notes on my phone, everyone’s name that was close to me and has passed away, and the biggest thing they taught me in how they lived their life. I look at it once or twice per month to make sure I remember, keep their legacy alive, and ask myself how I am doing in living out their lesson.

So, here I am one year later. A growing and thriving coaching and consulting business, a book, and launching a company that will make a positive difference for families managing through challenges with neurocognitive decline. So if you asked me about it now, I would absolutely echo the old sentiments, and some cliches are just true:

“Sometimes rejection is God’s protection.”

“Time heals all wounds.”

And of course, the one mentioned earlier, but did you know there was a bit more to it?“When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.― Alexander Graham Bell

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