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6 Surprising Facts About Rejection

rejectionThey say life is a journey, meant to be experienced, cherished, and enjoyed. However, what they often fail to mention is that life can hurt too, a lot. It does so often and with relish, and the biggest weapon at its disposal is rejection. We have all experienced it, in one form or another, and in all walks of life – and we all know that it can really, really hurt. It doesn’t just inflict emotional pain either, but affects our personality too, damaging our long term psychological well being.

Rejection comes in many shapes and sizes, and from a variety of sources. It can be social or professional, familial or romantic, and it can hit you at anytime, particularly when you least expect it. Some people are rejected by their very own families, others by colleagues at school, university, or at the workplace, and yet others by the people they’re attracted to or are in a relationship with. Rejection is so common in life, in fact, that all of us have developed our own systems of dealing with it, and we all understand it in our own unique ways.

However, for all that is known about rejection, there are lesser known facts too, particularly about its effects on our emotions and our behavior, and why it hurts us like it does.

1. The Relation to Physical Pain

Perhaps the biggest reason why rejection hurts so much is that it triggers the very same pathways in the brain as physical pain. Research through MRI studies has discovered that we respond so similarly to both physical pain and to rejection that the emotional pain induced by being rejected can be significantly soothed by Tylenol – am effective and popular pain reliever.

2. Human Evolution and the Past

Evolutionary psychologists are of the opinion that we developed our aversion to rejection as long ago as the age of hunting and gathering. In that era, people would often be ostracized from their tribes, for one reason or another, and such rejection was tantamount to a death penalty, for no single person could survive alone for any considerable period of time. Thus, the brains of our ancestors may have developed an alarm system, warning them through physical pain to behave properly, or else.

3. Relive the Pain and Agony

Even though we all do it, most of us don’t realize that when we relive the pain of social or romantic rejection, it is far more vivid compared to our re-experiences of physical pain. This phenomenon is perhaps also related to our evolutionary past, passed on down to us through our DNA by our ancestors, so that we remain social animals and continue to live together, on pain of rejection.

4. Inherent Human Need to Belong

If you have ever experienced rejection – and you’re extremely fortunate if you haven’t – but if you have, you will remember the ‘I don’t need anyone!’ moment. We all have one of these moments, rejecting the entirety of humanity in our defiance, yet we all know that we have just lied to ourselves. For we have an inherent need to belong, whether it is to a group, a community, or to a nation or ideology at large, and while rejection can destabilize this need for, and sense of, belonging, reconnecting with our loved ones can help alleviate the pain considerably.

5. The By-Products: Anger and Aggression

It is a favorite plot point in comic books, TV shows, and movies: a person experiences rejection, however slight or major, real or perceived, and goes on to become a villain, or even super villain, in order to exact revenge. Such plots are based on fact though, as rejection does cause a surge of anger, leading to targeted aggression towards responsible for hurting us.

6. Lower IQs and the Self Destruct Button

Anger, aggression, and intense emotional pain are not the only products of rejection though. It has been found through studies that experiencing or reliving rejection can cause our IQs to be lowered temporarily, as we are unable to think clearly during such moments. Furthermore, rejection seems to trigger the self destruct sequence built within our brains, as is evident in everyone who has continuously found fault in themselves and experienced low self esteem after being rejected by a romantic interest.

The pain of rejection isn’t always soothed by reason, yet fortunately, there are ways to deal with, and to treat, the wounds inflicted upon our psyche. To battle against rejection, and to conquer it, we must strive to stabilize the need to belong, defend our self esteem, combat our aggression, and alleviate our emotional pain.

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References:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201307/10-surprising-facts-about-rejection

http://mwfseekingbff.com/2011/05/18/the-hard-facts-the-pain-of-rejection/

http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/about-you/how-to-eliminate-your-fear-of-rejection-for-good/#.U-J62PmSweg

http://www.drugs.com/tylenol.html

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Genius Awakening was created to lead people to a better understanding of self and others in order to navigate our world at a higher and more awakened level of being. Together we will explore the depths of consciousness in order to evolve beyond our current paradigms into a world of love, joy and peace. Oksana and Larry Ostrovsky are passionate guides of this space.
  • cornishfaerie

    First, summary:
    What is rejection? Here’s something to consider: it isn’t rejection if you never have put effort in to them nor if they don’t know you. They don’t like you or do X to you? Well that is their problem (life isn’t fair, see below) and the fact is you move on and that’s that – you lose nothing and they potentially lose something. Both are better off, however, as the two obviously aren’t meant to get along with each other.

    “However, what they often fail to mention is that life can hurt too, a lot.”

    Well sorry to tell you this but life isn’t fair. You can complain about it or you can turn it in to a strength. Most people don’t understand this and either deal with it as it comes (i.e., they ignore it and move on) or complain. But the best is to take advantage of it (examples: learning how to cope, seeing things in a different perspective which will by itself improve the symptoms of “whineitis” to name two).

    “Research through MRI studies has discovered that we respond so similarly
    to both physical pain and to rejection that the emotional pain induced
    by being rejected can be significantly soothed by Tylenol – am effective
    and popular pain reliever.”

    Funny that. If you consider severe mental illness mental pain then you’d think I would have no real pain. Why? I have a very high pain threshold. Then again I have a very high psychological pain threshold exactly because I don’t really experience the full range of emotions. But what is pain? That is the key question, isn’t it? Indeed which is why the above is rubbish. As an aside, suggesting paracetamol/acetaminophen is rather… how to put it… ignorant. Tylenol (which is a brand) is incredibly toxic to the liver. Liver disease causes all sorts of problems. Even then though, suggesting an analgesic for emotional/psychological/etc. pain is flat out (pardon the pun to anyone who sees it) irresponsible (especially one as toxic as tylenol… the US having it OTC is worse still).

    “We all have one of these moments, rejecting the entirety of humanity in
    our defiance, yet we all know that we have just lied to ourselves. For
    we have an inherent need to belong, whether it is to a group, a
    community”

    How wrong you are. I’ve never considered myself part of a group nor anything but an outcast and someone who is very different. I am. I don’t have any friends in my country nor do I care to have any. I don’t desire it nor do I need it. The only friends I have I have never met in person. And those are limited in amount (very few). I’m a recluse in modern times, essentially. I didn’t lie to myself here. At times I’ve experimented with the opposite and I always come to the conclusion: I loathe social interactions and as such I don’t want anything to do with it. I do interact on a rare occasion but much of that is with resent.

    “Such plots are based on fact though, as rejection does cause a surge of
    anger, leading to targeted aggression towards responsible for hurting
    us.”

    Now this is interesting because you have a valid point even for me. Anger is one of the only emotions I know and I know it more than any other. I didn’t want to belong to any group but I was treated like crap when all I wanted was to be left the hell alone.

    “Furthermore, rejection seems to trigger the self destruct sequence built
    within our brains, as is evident in everyone who has continuously found
    fault in themselves and experienced low self esteem after being
    rejected by a romantic interest.”

    Romantic interest, eh? I haven’t the slightest clue what that would be. Okay I do know what it means but it doesn’t apply to me. But let me tell you, low-self esteem is not exactly caused only by supposed rejection (see first part of my response).

    “The pain of rejection isn’t always soothed by reason”
    I wonder why that might be, seeing as how it usually affects you emotionally. Here’s something to think about (yes, I realise the irony there): emotion and logic do not mix. So of course “rejection” won’t be helped by logic.

  • tarcomed

    ugh.