Rejection Hurts. Here’s why (and what to do about it)
There’s no worse feeling than going out on a limb, daring to be vulnerable only to have someone slam the door in your face
Waaaay back in the caveman days, your risk of being rejected was actually small. We lived in tribes, so the maximum amount of people that could shun you was no more than a handful, but in today’s “always on” world, each of us is connected to thousands of people, any of whom might ignore our posts, chats, texts, or dating profiles, and leave us feeling rejected as a result.
In addition to these kinds of minor rejections, we are still vulnerable to serious and more devastating rejections as well – When someone attractive ignores you at a bar, When our spouse leaves us, when we get fired from our jobs, snubbed by our friends, or ostracized by our families or communities for our lifestyle choices, the pain we feel can be absolutely paralyzing.
Whether the rejection we experience is large or small, one thing remains constant — it always hurts, and it usually hurts more than we expect it to.
But … why?
Why is it that we feel put out if a friend doesn’t like our facebook post? why can the word “no” ruin our day or leave us feeling insignificant and lost.
It turns out — our brains are wired to respond that way. The university of Michigan conducted a study where they put people in MRI machines and asked them to think about a recent rejection.
They discovered something amazing.
When we get rejected, the pain centers of our brain light up. That’s why rejection hurts so much – to your brain, rejection is the same as experiencing physical pain.
Evolutionary psychologists believe the reason for this dates back to when we were hunter gatherers who lived in tribes.
In those days, it was impossible to survive alone. So to be ostracized by your tribe was basically a death sentence. As a result, we developed an “early warning mechanism” to alert us when we were at danger of being ejected from our tribe. Over time, People who experienced rejection as more painful were more likely to change their behavior, remain in the tribe, and pass along their genes.
Now emotional pain isn’t the only way that rejection hurts us.
Rejection also poke holes in our self-esteem, making us feel worthless, or angry, and even lead us to lash out against those around us, or hide away from the world.
The greatest damage rejection causes is usually self-inflicted.
We choose to let a rejection hurt more and mean more than it does.
If you’ve ever been dumped then you know what I mean. As soon as it happens your inner voice pipes up and starts tearing your confidence to shreds. This “little critic” calls you names, lists the reasons why you deserved to get dumped, lists the things you hate about yourself and makes you feel 10 times worse than you did before.
What’s the cure?
Now the good news is that I’m going to give you 5 simple steps to that will help you handle rejection a boss. And if you do them, you’re going to become happier and more confident
- Tell you inner critic to shut up
Getting ignored by a friend might hurt, but it doesn’t even compare to pain we inflict on ourselves. The moment something bad happens, our inner critic jumps up and starts dishing out the punishment – listing the reasons why you failed, why you deserved to fail until you feel like a failure. and the funny thing is, Rejection hurts, but the words you use to speak to yourself hurt even more.
You need to stop punishing yourself. and to do that you have to tell that inner critic to shut up.
Now I understand that this is easier said than done, so the next time you feel rejected I want you to take a moment, take a breath, and list out the things that feel grateful for. On pen and paper, not in your head. It’s hard, but doing this changes your focus, and stops the inner critic dead in it’s tracks.
Another thing to remember is that although rejection might feel personal, often it’s not. Most rejections, whether romantic, professional, and even social, are due to circumstance that you usually are totally unaware of and so letting your inner critic list out the reasons why it thinks you were rejected is simply a waste of time.
2. Choose to feel good.
Wlenor roosevelt said: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. Whether you believe it or not, how feel is a choice that you make. So even though rejection hurts, you can choose how much it hurts and for how long.
The question is, are you going to choose to suffer, or choose something happier?
The next time your self-esteem takes a hit, List out 5 things about yourself that you know are useful, valuable, likeable or loveable — things that make you a good friend, a great date, an amazing employee, or an incredible boss. Once you’ve done that, choose one and write a paragraph
I like to call this “emotional first aid”. It helps you repair your self-esteem when it gets hurt.
Remember, you can’t control whether you get rejected or not, but you can control how it makes you feel. Choose to feel good.
3. Connect with others.
Humans are social animals. We need to feel wanted and valued by other people. But when we get rejected, shame and embarrassment makes us want to close up and try to hide from the world. It’s normal and natural to want to lick your wounds in private, but even though you might want to be alone, choosing to be social actually helps you get over the sting of rejection faster.
It works because spending time with people who like us causes the hormones serotonin and oxytocin to be released into our bloodstream, which makes us feel connected and grounded. so If a first date doesn’t return your texts, go grab drinks with your friends. If your work colleagues didn’t invite you to lunch, call a relative and catch up on old times. Remind yourself that your attention, time and presence makes other people happy.
4. Dance it out
This is more than just a rule for handling rejection, it’s a rule for life. Dancing releases a massive amount of feel good hormones that put a smile on our face and make us feel great. The next time you get knocked down, turn on spotify and dance like no one’s watching