What Is Rejection And Why Does It Hurt So Much?

What Is Rejection And Why Does It Hurt So Much?

What Is Rejection And Why Does It Hurt So Much?

How can we thrive through those times when it just seems like constant rejection?

I’m sure we’ve all felt that moment of thinking; they don’t like working with me or what I’ve produced; or I’m obviously not good enough for that role; or experienced a situation of being excluded whether it’s actively (through bullying or teasing) or passively (the silent treatment or being passed over).

These moments are all on the continuum of rejection. The small less intense feelings of rejection for example, someone not saying hello as they pass by, through to applying for the role or grant we thought we would definitely get, and then not getting it. 

No wonder rejection hurts. Our expectations or hopes in that moment, have been smashed. The feelings we experience are a result of heavy emotions that we are attempting to deal with. And then to make matters worse, we often engage in negative thoughts and harmful self-talk which exacerbates the situation even further. You know those comments that creep in e.g. ‘I’m useless’ ‘they’ll never want me’ ‘I’m so bad at that’ ‘I’m such a failure’ ‘I’ll never get…’

With this type of self-talk occurring, our performance decreases. As our performance decreases, we notice the ‘poor’ outcomes, results and consequences so we confirm for ourselves that, of course, we must be useless, terrible, or not good enough. 

This vicious downward spiral leads us to therefore believe that this rejection is appropriate and we probably deserve it.  


We often get asked by our clients; Why does rejection hurt so much?

Research shows us that our brains process physical pain and rejection in a very similar way! Rejection activates regions of the brain involved in both physical and emotional components of pain. The more intense the rejection, the more intense the pain. We then end up in survival and fight mode.  

So, what can we do to reduce or inhibit ‘rejection’ having such a massive impact on our career and our lives?

We can learn alternative and new ways of thinking, to cope and deal with these rising feelings of anguish, distress and suffering. 

Remember: the only meaning anything has, is the meaning we give it. 

The person that ‘snubbed you as they walked past’ may have be so focussed on their next task, they didn’t even notice you. The role you were so set on getting but didn’t, is maybe a lucky escape and providing you an opportunity to explore other avenues that you were blind to, and maybe, there is a much better outcome waiting for you. In our experience, there usually is!

The outcome, whatever it is, is an opportunity to experience greatness, to thrive at a deeper level, but only when we allow ourselves to look for and receive that meaning.

Dealing and coping with rejection requires us to notice, acknowledge and become aware of the thoughts, feelings and consequences of what is occurring in that specific moment. To assign lightness, curiosity and openness to explore the next step. It is an opportunity to NOT assign heavy, weighted negative meaning to it. Just as physical pain subsides, so too does emotional pain.

Allow yourself the opportunity to see the moment as a time for learning, growing, thriving and flourishing into the next new opportunity of greatness.  

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