a sad woman thinking about her ex boyfriendIf you’re reading this then you’re probably feeling the pain of a recent breakup or a brush-off of some kind and want to know how to deal with rejection from a guy. Maybe your relationship ended or perhaps you didn’t get the guy you have been trying so hard to make yours. If you’ve been putting yourself out there and it didn’t go as you planned or maybe you were even ghosted by a guy. You could also be reading this because you recently got let go from your job or a friend turned on you. All of these experiences feel awful because they boil down to one common denominator: you’ve been rejected. To be rejected means that you’ve unhappily experienced someone saying “no” to you in some capacity.

Typically, men are better at understanding the feeling of rejection in comparison to women. But, we absolutely experience rejection as well. Although this article deals with rejection overall, I will mostly emphasize how you can get over rejection when it comes to a relationship.

Dealing With Romantic Rejection

Once we realize that we’ve been rejected, it feels really awful. The first step in helping to change our feelings back to the positive is by understanding why we feel the way we do. What better way to understand ourselves than by taking a look at our evolution?

When we were cave people, we were co-dependent on each other for survival. Some of us were hunters, some were gathers, some were caretakers, etc. In order for our species to survive and thrive, we needed to contribute to the greater whole. If we were to behave in a way that the larger group did not approve of, they would kick us out from the group.

Imagine being a cavewoman, with no one to help you hunt, no one to help create shelter, no one to help you create a fire for warmth and cooking. Your chances of survival would decrease immediately, which means that being ostracized from the group quite literally equated to death.

See also: Getting over a breakup in 7 steps

What does this mean for us in the present day? If primitive rejection equated to death, present rejection still in our minds equates to death. Thankfully, our brains have evolved, but not completely. There is still a small part of our brains that makes us feel like we might die if we are rejected by someone. Think about it – if you’re fired, you may feel embarrassed. If you are dumped, I guarantee that you experience a plethora of negative feelings. Being told “no” or having someone push us away from something we want is not a pleasant experience.

Allow me to share the good news! Thankfully, the human population learned that rejection can actually be used as a tool. From the times of the primitive man, people started to realize – if I do something the group doesn’t like, they kick me out, and I die. But, if I do something and FIX my behavior, I may be welcomed back in for a second chance. I’m sure these thoughts were in the form of grunting, but still, we learned and thank heavens we did!

If you are rejected from a situation (like being fired from a job), or from a person (like being dumped), there is a possibility that you have done something unsatisfactory even if you aren’t able to understand that at the time. This is where we can change this awful feeling of rejection and everything negative associated with it to understand that we now have: an opportunity.

Turning rejection into opportunity

So how do you turn your rejection into an opportunity? Here are my four tips to help you deal deal with romantic rejection from a guy.

See also: Using the no contact rule to get your boyfriend back

Gaining understanding

As mentioned above, the first step to changing negative feelings is to understand where they come from. It may not be clear to you if you have somehow contributed to this less than desirable outcome, so give yourself some time to reflect on what you may have done to end up here. This is not to say to beat yourself up, but every downfall is an opportunity for improvement. Give yourself some time to think. If it’s helpful, make a list or a timeline of how this situation came to fruition.

Marinate in your feelings

When I was going through a difficult rejection period (I was cheated on after a 5-year relationship), my dear friend gave me some of the best advice that still rings in my mind. He said, “Allow yourself to feel every emotion. Don’t push them away. Don’t mask them. Feel them. Sit in them. Experience them. Then, move on and most importantly, don’t live there.” Because negative feelings are.. well, negative, we tend to avoid wanting to face them. So we distract ourselves with rebounds, sex, alcohol, too much entertainment, drugs, overeating, false relationships.. basically anything to keep ourselves from facing the reality of our negative feelings.

Identify your feelings. Give them labels. Cry. Feel angry. Feel lost. Question things (in your mind or with a friend, not with your ex-boyfriend or former boss). Feel sick to your stomach. Feel okay when you feel okay. Whatever you experience, feel it, then move on.

See also: Fixing a relationship after being needy

Turn within

Even if you experience rejection for something that isn’t your fault, it’s still an opportunity to look within and see how you can improve yourself. What could you have done that lead you here? What could you do differently when facing a similar situation in the future? What challenges are you willing to accept? What can you do for yourself to start feeling better? Should you invest in some self-help books? Start journaling? Learn a new language or hobby? Sign up for that spin class you told yourself you’d try two years ago? Revamp your resume? Change careers or at least look into other options? Treat yourself to a nice facial and create a better skin regimen? Whatever it is that will challenge you while making you feel better about yourself, do that. Do a lot of that.

Accept the fact that this process may take a while

It will feel daunting and awful at times, but the more you accept your feelings as they come, the more quickly you will be able to move on from them, embrace positive feelings, and take your newfound understanding and wisdom to apply to new opportunities for a much better experience the next time around.