When someone is breaking up with us or we can’t successfully fit into our working environment or when our family doesn’t care about us or when our friend doesn’t call, with different intensity but we all experience almost a paralyzing pain. Refusal is one of the most frequent emotional wound what can be caused by others. Why is it so painful being refused and how we can protect ourselves from it?
People live connected, having several different kind of connections, like family, friendship and working relationship. There are just few people who want to live alone without any connection with others. In some civilization social exclusion had been or is the heaviest punishment.
There is a kind of connection need which is a basic human motivation. Human is a social animal.
People feel a strong need to have a minimal long standing and positive connection with others around. Theoretically trend anybody it doesn’t focus just one certain person. However it’s not completely independent from the subject of the connection, because interactions with unknown or disliked people doesn’t satisfy this need of connection.
If we have a basic need of connection, how do we react if it doesn’t happen or being jeopardized?
It causes a similar reaction in the activity of the brain like pain. (Eisenberger, N. I., Lieberman, M. D., Williams, K. D. (2003) Does Rejection Hurt? An fMRI Sutdy of Soical Exclusion. Science, 302, 290-292)
The research results suggested that the neuroanatomy base of social and physical pain is the same. Mental pain is just one of elements which influences or well-being when we experience refusal. Our mood worsen, our self-esteem decreasing, we feel anger and aggression and after all these emotions physically our body is reacting as well. Like decreasing appetite, less good quality of sleep, stomachache, headache etc.
Paradoxically when we are down we are susceptible make our mental situation worse with destructive thoughts. When we experience a physical hurt immediately know and act to treat that injury. But when it comes to mental pain we are susceptible to accept the situation without doing anything constructive (Dr. Guy Winch).
There are methods which can work as a mental first aid, supporting development of our self-esteem, reducing pain and helping us to move on.
- Stop self-scourge
It’s not useless to go through and examine what we did wrong in those situations, what we can learn and do differently next time. It’s important how we see and do it! The punitive and critical view is more unbeneficial than constructive.
For instance: after an unsuccessful date to think that “Next time might be better not to talk about my ex-boyfriend on the first date” – This way of examining the situation and taking conclusions is constructive. “I’m a hopeless looser!” – This way is very subjective and destructive. People who take this conclusion, they miss to see the difference between doing a mistake and being someone. Often they forget not all of the refusals are personal. Most of the times circumstances and self-adjustment play the same important role in the situation and the refusal is not personal. (There are some personality disorders when the feeling of being refused is pathological).
- Strengthen your self-esteem
The main problem of refusal is we take it personal and it influences our self-esteem. With stable self-esteem we are able to do a more objective examination and evaluation of the situation. Being more realistic and not forgetting our strengths as well, not focusing just on our deficiencies. If we have got refused in specific roles (like a partner, friend or colleague) spending time with collecting positive characteristics (five with examples) in that role help us to see we might have made a mistake but that doesn’t define us as a person. Also important to think why those characteristics are important to others.
Very important to make ourselves understand that even if somebody refused us that doesn’t mean we are worthless. We must remember there are other people who love and respect us. Through this we are able to experience the security of connection which supports the feeling of being able to connect. Look for those people who care about you. Refusal doesn’t influence our personality being able to be loved.
Being refused is never simple. At the same time alleviation of the pain and the recovery of self-esteem can help to overtake it and move on.
Also important that every each difficulty has its own treasure which comes in knowing ourselves better and deeper. Often to change perspective or getting known ourselves better is difficult just doing by ourselves. With professional help it’s easier in a consultation where you become the center.