Have you ever felt rejected by a friend or romantic interest, and played that rejected, that feeling of being worthless and unwanted, in your head over and over again? Sometimes, you might find yourself living in the pain of that rejection months, years, or even decades after the fact, but why? Because our mind’s first objective is to protect us, and rejection is pain, and rather than allow you to forget, and invite more pain, the mind fixates and (ironically) keeps the old wounds fresh. There is something we can do about this cycle, but the cycle is one that many people passively allow because they think that there is a “lesson” in the rejection. They believe that they have now learned to be not just be cautious of that person, but anyone in the same category as the rejecting person, for their own good.

In truth, the only real lesson in rejection is this: You are not for everybody. And you shouldn’t want to be. Personal standards and boundaries are how we weed out those who we don’t want in our lives, and rejection is how others weed us out of theirs. Being rejected doesn’t mean that you or the other person are necessarily bad people, only that are incompatible, no matter how much you might wish that this weren’t the case. And as much as a direct, quick rejection hurts, it is the kindest thing that a person who doesn’t want you could ever do for you. You haven’t wasted your time. You are now free to meet new people who you like, who’ll feel the same way about you.