Facing rejection is never easy. The inadvertent tendency to internalize rejection can be completely demoralizing, chipping away at any semblance of confidence and self-worth that we may have accrued over our years on this planet. So, what do we do when we experience one of the worst types of rejection – being ghosted?
“Ghosted” is a newer term used for describing when someone with whom we were speaking to (often via text message or within a dating app) suddenly stops responding. It’s almost as if they have turned into a ghost, hence its name. Ghosting provides us with absolutely no closure, no explanation, and plenty of assumptions about our shortcomings.
Here are 4 ways that can help us deal with being ghosted.
1) Catch your narrative in its tracks.
According to Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), human beings construct automatic and irrational core beliefs about themselves after what is called an “activating event.” The activating event, in this case, is being ghosted. Without skipping a beat, most of us will jump to the conclusion that there is something wrong with us. From here, we can quickly spiral into a world of “I’m never going to find someone,” and “things never work out for me.” These vast generalizations, which seldom have substantial evidence to back them up, storm into our brains immediately. So the first step of dealing with being ghosted is catching the narrative. Shifting from autopilot to manual, we start to become more aware and in control of our own thought process. Pause and ask yourself, “What is the story that I’m creating about this?”
2) Try not to jump to conclusions.
Uncertainty is uncomfortable. Uncertainty, when added with the threat of rejection, can feel unbearable. We want to know why, we want to know what we did, and we want to find reasons that we can blame this awful experience on. We project our already-existent insecurities into the vast realm of unknowns regarding a specific situation, filling the gaps with our own worst fears. Become mindful of the assumptions and conclusions you are jumping to.
3) Remember that you don’t have the whole story.
Once again, it is a human tendency to blame rejection on ourselves. The reality, however, is that we rarely have the whole story – especially when it comes to getting ghosted. We have absolutely no idea what is going on in that person’s life. Why always assume that it’s about you?
4) It’s not happening to you, it’s just happening.
This is a great mantra to remember in most all circumstances: this isn’t happening to you. It has happened, and you are making it about you. Drawing conclusions, internalizing rejection, projecting insecurities, and creative a story about the experience are all in the realm of your control. What’s not, unfortunately, is the other person and why they’ve ghosted you. The more mindful you can become of how you’re internalizing it, the more able you will be to stop this detrimental internalization of rejection in its tracks.
Being ghosted sucks. There’s no way around that. The wonderful thing about painful experiences, however, is the opportunity to cultivate resilience, strength, and the courage to continue to be vulnerable in new situations. How you deal with being ghosted is a whole lot more significant than what led someone to ghost you to begin with. Focus on your reaction to the experience, not the experience itself.
Hannah Rose, MS, NCC, ACRPS, LCPC is a therapist, writer, and public speaker. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Goucher College in 2012 and continued her studies at Johns Hopkins University, where she received her Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling in 2015.