Carolynn Aristone, MSW, LCSW is a Couple and Marriage Counselor. She wrote an article for Good Therapy.com, entitled: How to Overcome Fear of Rejection.
In Aristone’s article, she cites, The Pain of Social Rejection, written by Kirsten Weir for the American Psychological Association. Weir wrote that “our need to belong and for acceptance, links back to our early survival skills. Weir cites brain research which reveals that the areas of the brain that register pain due to physical injury, the dorsal anterior cingulate and the anterior insula, also register the emotional pains of rejection.”
Do you recall a psychic pain due to rejection that was so deep that you felt it in your body? One client said that her heart actually hurt when she was rejected by her boyfriend. Another client felt physical pain throughout her entire body and was unable to move after she was fired from a job she had for over 20 years. The emotional and physical pain is real. The question is, what do we do about it? We want to get rid of it and feel better but feeling any kind of pain is a part of life and not necessarily something to get rid of. The problem occurs when we only feel pain and are unable able to live life.
Aristone says that “rather than value this (rejection) warning sign, this important bodily communication, we fear it. The pain becomes unbearable. We attach all kinds of meanings to the pain, to rejection itself. We perceive rejection as an absolute truth about who we are or what we can achieve. Somehow, this primitive survival signal creates a slow, painful death—of our spirits.”
Aristone goes on to list “five ways to transform how you respond to this difficult experience.” I don’t agree with all five of her points but I do love these:
- Expect rejection SOME of the time. I have no idea where I heard this, but someone once said to me, “You see that gorgeous girl? Someone, somewhere, is sick of her [crap]!” Like that girl, you, too, will be rejected, no matter how attractive you are, how much money you have, or how nice you are—someone will “get sick of you” in some form. Not everyone is compatible, and you will not meet everyone’s needs at all times. If you can accept this, you can decrease the personalization of rejection, maintain faith, and keep trying.
- Stop making rejection your whole life story. Assuming the identity of “victim” will not attract or keep a mate. The more you cling to the “rejected” role, the more you suffer. There is more to you than your rejection. Surround yourself with friends and family who support you. These people serve as a reminder of your worth. They are a part of your love story. To overcome rejection, you must connect with people who love you.
- Real intimacy is possible only when both partners become vulnerable.
Rejection is a part of life. There’s no way to avoid it. However, the way we think about it affects us greatly. The three points above are useful tools in dealing with rejection. If you have been suffering from feelings of rejection, I want to hear from you. I want to help you. Feel free to contact me here.