Why You Feel The Things You Do When Rejected
No one likes to be rejected, whether it is in a relationship, applying for a job or by a friend or family member.
We know that rejection really hurts, but it can also inflict damage to our psychological well-being that goes well beyond mere emotional pain. We are complex creatures and our emotions, behaviors and thoughts/assumptions are extremely personal to us. Our reality may be a product of our irrational fears, insecurities, and/or ego, yes. However, that doesn’t make our experience of pain any less real.
In relationships, what most partners who are feeling rejected don’t realize is you are having a personal reflection of your own rejections. Whether they be of yourself, a friend, family or co-worker, you are experiencing emotional feedback. You cannot speed and drive recklessly, while expecting everyone else to abide by the rules.
Taking a good look at how you react to rejection helps you to take accountability to why you are feeling so sensitive in a situation. When you are self-aware and acknowledging of how your interpretations may be causing certain behaviors that are actually pushing people away from you, a new perspective of why you are feeling rejected comes into light.
8 Effects of Rejections
Here are some lesser known facts of the various effects rejection has on our emotions, thinking, and behavior. If you pay attention to your emotional and physical fallout of feeling rejected, you can then begin to recognize who or what YOU are rejecting.
- Rejection piggybacks on physical pain pathways in the brain. This is why rejection hurts so much in the body.
- Our brains respond so similarly to rejection and physical pain that Tylenol can reduce the emotional pain rejection elicits.
- Psychologists assume the reason for the strong link between rejection and physical pain is that rejection served a vital function in our evolutionary past. In our hunter/gatherer past, being ostracized from our tribes was akin to a death sentence, as we were unlikely to survive for long alone.
- We relive and re-experience social pain more vividly than we do physical pain. Try recalling an experience in which you felt significant physical pain and your brain pathways won’t elicit physical pain again. But try reliving a painful rejection and you will be flooded with many of the same feelings you had at the time.
- Rejection threatens our “Need to Belong.” When we get rejected, this need becomes disconnected and adds to our emotional pain. Reconnecting with those who love us, or reaching out to members of groups to which we feel strong affinity and who value and accept us, has been found to soothe emotional pain after a rejection.
- Feeling alone and disconnected after a rejection often has an overlooked impact on our behavior, as it creates surges of anger and aggression. Countless studies have demonstrated that even mild rejections lead people to take out their aggression on innocent bystanders. School shootings, violence against women, and fired workers going “postal” are other examples of the strong link between rejection and aggression.
- Much of that aggression elicited by rejection can also turn inward and send us on a mission to destroy our self-esteem. We often respond to romantic rejections by finding fault in ourselves, bemoaning all our inadequacies, kicking ourselves when we’re already down, and smacking our self-esteem into a pulp. The truth is that most romantic rejections are a matter of poor fit, a lack of chemistry, incompatible lifestyles, wanting different things at different times, or other such issues of mutual dynamics. Blaming ourselves and attacking our self-worth only deepens the emotional pain we feel and makes it harder for us to recover emotionally.
- Rejection temporarily lowers our IQ, no really! This is why sometimes when we are feeling rejected, we do some really stupid things we regret later.
Susan Z’s Verdict
Rejection, even as painful as it feels, is a strong learning lesson we can use to our benefit in overcoming fears of inadequacy, low self-esteem and even feelings as strong as self-hatred. If it is a common place occurrence with you, maybe it’s time to ask yourself if you might have a strong belief that rejection is the norm for you…whether giving it or receiving it. From there, you can look within and start taking small steps to start changing that belief to one of unconditional acceptance of self. Everything else will fall in line.
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