We have all felt rejection at some point in our lives and I guess we can all agree it is not a great emotion to feel. There are studies that show that the areas that activate in the brain when we feel emotional pain are the same than when we receive physical pain. From an evolutionary perspective we needed this pain to avoid being ostracised as the chances to survive were better when you were part of a group.
But nowadays we still feel this social pain even when our survival does not depend on it. What to do when this happens?
Social pain can be recalled easier than physical pain because our brains prioritise rejection experiences based on the fact that we are social beings. That is the reason why we all have the need to belong to a group or to several groups. Depending on how you feel about yourself rejection could even affect your self-esteem the minute you start blaming yourself. The need to belong is such a primitive and innate need in us that it is the reason that when experiencing rejection we cannot ‘think clearly’ and our mind gets totally clouded. That side of the brain takes over and does not respond to reason as easily because it’s overwhelmed with the weight of emotional pain.
If this has ever happened to you or you are going through a moment of rejection, first of all, know that you are not alone. Everybody experiences this at some point. There are ways to deal with these painful emotions that will help you to lessen the psychological and emotional effects that they have on you in the aftermath.
Deal with your emotional pain
It is important to recognise what is happening and to accept it. Many times when you minimise the situation, the pain or deny that the rejection is even happening you can actually hurt yourself more than when you simply accept it. Being able to say it out loud and realising that being rejected even when it seems personal, it’s not personal. There are many people in my life that love to be in my company and yes, there are always some people that don’t feel that way. It is a matter of accepting it and to move on to greener fields so to speak.
Reduce your anger and reduce the aggression
When you feel angry, the wound of rejection is still fresh. It is only when you can think of the situation in a calmer and more detached way that you will be really moving on. This can be especially difficult depending on the relationship you had with the group that rejected you. A good way to reduce the anger is to experience gratitude. We can’t experience these two emotions at the same time, so in these moments you should recall all the things and people that love you that you are grateful for and you will see how this reduces your anger significantly.
As for the aggression, if you are experiencing rejection from a group, it is time to move on and stop subjecting yourself to this rejection or desire of approval. People with people-pleasing personalities (I am guilty of that) have a tendency to tolerate way too much in order to please everybody but themselves. Sometimes it is better to stop hanging with some people that overtly reject you and focus more on those that will welcome you with open arms.
Protect your self-esteem
At the end of the day, people and groups reject others for many reasons like differences of opinion, values, personality and sometimes when dysfunctional dynamics are being put into question. The result are the same, a group was happy with the way things were and rejects the person that wants to change these dynamics. It is important to remember that there are many groups where you will feel like you belong naturally and that is because your values, ideas or personality are in sync with the other members of the group. The more you spend time with people that make you feel special and valued the less pain you will feel from other rejections when they happen. And they will, it is part of life and part of being social.
Stabilise your need to belong
At the end of the day, life is really too short to be trying to fit with everybody. Many times when it is a family thing, you will be more open because of the big picture. But any relationship should be established from a place of mutual respect and acceptance. Many people suffer horribly in families ‘just because they have to’ and you really do not have to deal with lack of respect and acceptance. These are basics no person should live without.
Some great thoughts to bear in mind when you are going through a painful rejection are these:
- You will get through this. Take ownership and forget about how fair or unfair the situation is. We all get our share of bad luck sometimes. It is really a lottery. Think about all the things you have survived already, what you have accomplished and you will feel better.
- Embrace failure and jump into it. Do not fear failure and keep trying. If you never fail, you are playing too safe. Being uncomfortable from time to time is necessary and healthy. It is what will exercise the muscle of confidence so you can to do incredible things in the future.
- Give yourself a break and be patient. You are doing things the best you can with the tools you have now. It is ok, if you don’t do as well as you thought.
- You are stronger than you think. Don’t tell yourself that ‘you are not able to do…’ blah, blah, blah… because this will only fixate your self-limiting mind set. You are basically telling and reminding yourself of all the things you can’t do before you even try it!
“Your thoughts become words, your words become deeds. Your deeds become habits. Your habits become your values.
And your values become your destiny.- Ghandi
- Only you control how you feel, think and how you behave..Do not blame others as we all have a choice to react in one way or another. Take responsibility and you will be able to create positive changes in your life.
If you like this article let me know on the comment section below. And if you have questions or comments on how you deal with rejection, please comment as well as I would love to continue the conversation.
Have a great day