There is a complex reason for the sensation of immense pain when people feel rejected. This revelation is expounded upon by psychologist Dr. Guy Winch in his book entitled, ‘Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts.' Dr. Winch drew from years of research in this area to demystify why rejection hurts so many of us.
Most of us are familiar with rejection within the context of psychology. After all, our thoughts and feelings are in our mind. However, objective knowledge of this behavior, as it is highlighted by research, provides information essential for understanding why rejection hurts the way it does, as if it is a real physical wound. Who hasn't felt the knife in the heart when they have experienced any form of rejection?
Here's something interesting about brain scan imaging results. They have revealed that our mind processes the experience of rejection similarly to how we would experience physical pain.
During the experience of physical pain, receptors from the skin send electrical impulses to the brain, where information is processed, calling our attention to the area of the body that has been hurt.
In the experience of rejection, information gathered from our senses such as sight and sound are sent to our brain, and this information is what effects our personal perception and values. The process affects our emotional health because of the way we respond to rejection.
Some people are able to adjust and transition gracefully from the initial shock of hurt, while others adopt unhelpful coping strategies that do not address their feelings at all.
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Why Does It Hurt To be Rejected?
Now that we understand that there is a deep ‘biological' cause for experiencing pain if we feel rejected, another question that can bring us towards better understanding is, of course, the ‘psychological' side.
According to one of psychology's most esteemed theorists, Dr. Abraham Maslow, love and belonging are two of our basic needs. Therefore, it's not difficult to understand that if we don't feel loved or don't feel like we belong, we feel immense rejection, and that hurts.
It hurts because we may have given our all, whether it be in a relationship, or at work, yet we obviously mean nothing to the people, or person, who rejected us. The experience of rejection can harm our self-esteem and self-worth terribly. When we receive a message from other people that we are not interesting, that we are undesirable, that we are unlovable, or that we have no value in their eyes, our self-esteem deteriorates.
Emotional Health Issues
The experience of rejection can hurt emotionally, and harm a person's emotional wellbeing, especially when the individual has not yet learned to understand the complexities of what is happening to their emotions; take a child for instance. Emotional health issues originate from a person's reaction to rejection.
Many individuals who have experienced rejection tend to brood over their past memories and replay their sad experiences. This is no different to picking at a festering wound, over and over again. This action of repeated recall can lead to potentially long-term damage to their self-worth.
Experiences of rejection can hurt so badly that they can ruin a person's mood, plus, rejection is known to be one of the root causes of social anxiety. Some people who don't have rejection issues don't understand why those that do can't simply move on. However, the experience is different in every individual because of the way we all vary in terms of growth and maturity.
Rejection can certainly be painful, but it is also an experience that can teach and guide us to become a stronger, more resilient, and loving person.