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Why rejection can really bite!

At some time, we have all experienced the crunching feeling of rejection. It happens from an early age in the playground where Sammy turns his back on his friend, and its equally as difficult to watch as a parent. At school you could be the last person to be picked for the netball team. And it happens in your career, when your 30th job application is turned down. And at times, perhaps hardest of all, it happens in your love life.

The simple fact of the matter is humans need to belong; our need for social acceptance is as strong as our need for food and water and that’s why it hurts so badly. Naomi Eisenberger, PhD, at the University of California, Los Angeles, Kipling Williams, PhD, at Purdue University, and colleagues found that social rejection activates many of the same brain regions involved in physical pain (Science, 2003).

Rejection especially on a continual basis can seriously affect our emotional and psychological state and we therefore need to focus more attention on how to deal with this inevitable fact of life.

Dr Stan Steindl of Psychology Consultants, Brisbane suggests that practicing self-compassion may soften the feelings of rejection.

“Instead of beating ourselves up about not landing a job or missing out on a place on the basketball team, perhaps we need to treat ourselves like we would treat a friend who has just had this experience” he said.

Rejection is hard to take but there are a few ways you can take it onboard and bid it farewell
1. Practice self-compassion – talk to yourself as you would a good friend.

2. Take some time out to get over the experience. Rejection can take time and perspective to overcome.

3. Exercise can be an effective release of anger and negative energy. So embrace your ‘inner Bolt’ and go for a run (or your preferred exercise method).

4. Try not to personalise. Often the reasons for rejection are not to do with our capabilities but can be purely circumstantial.

5. Know that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Take the rejection on board as a character building experience.

6. Talk it through with a friend or loved one, this will help feelings of shame and provide an outlet for frustration.

If your feelings of rejection are more chronic or long suffering, talking to a professional psychologist can help and may prevent ongoing negative behaviour that can lead to further social isolation.

For more information on our Brisbane Clinical Psychologists visit the team page of our website.

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