What rejection does to the brain
Nia Bennett | Jan, 6 2020
Rejection is never an easy experience. No matter how tough we think we are, when it hurts, the emotional pain always escalates and seeps into other parts of our body causing a detrimental effect on our thought patterns, speech and our overall health and mental wellbeing.
To understand how we can handle rejection better we must first understand how rejection affects our brain’s activity and overall functioning.
Understanding rejection up close
Often rejection caused by a romantic partner or through interpersonal connections has a traumatic effect on the individual. In this situation, rejection is construed as a personal attack, a lack of ‘specialness’ making the individual doubt their own potential or capability. The minute we start finding faults in our abilities, our ability to experience positive emotion drops. Neuroscientists have proven that we experience inner, emotional pain our IQ drops. This happens due to our ability to process information clearly in our hazy and hurtful mental state.
What rejection really does to the brain and self-esteem
One of the main problems of being rejected in any circumstance is harping on the problem. Even when it is not personal, we take it personally. For example, in relationships rejection occurs only because it was not the right ‘fit’ for the couple or because you two had differing lifestyle choices or wants.
Rejection never happens based on one person’s flaws, it always due to incompatibility. However, this type of rejection always leads to invisible but intense emotional pain. When we suffer from emotional our brain releases an opioid receptor called mu which is a natural chemical that reduces pain, our brain replicates the release of mu-opioid even when we physically hurt ourselves. This proves that emotional pain has the same effect on our brain and body as physical pain.
However, resilience plays a significant role in how our brain releases mu-opioid. So people who are prone to stress, low self-esteem, anxiety, panic attacks and depression release.
How to overcome rejection without suffering
The thing is rejection cannot be controlled, especially in a time when our entire lives are placed within the realms of the digital sphere.
Everyone is being rejected one way or the other, either through the loss of Twitter followers, not liking an Instagram post, not getting a job, a breakup - this vicious cycle never ends. Instead of fighting the tide, it is best to find healthy methods to break the habit of causing personal trauma.
Emotional pain caused by rejection tends to remain in our minds for longer periods, the best approach is to stop making it personal because it never is. Find techniques, friends, close connections or an activity that can help you validate your self-worth.
Remember that every interpersonal rejection comes down to chemistry. You cannot control chemistry, so learn from the experience, analyse and make a conscious effort to never repeat it again. However social rejections come down to our busy lives, the only way to deal with it is to not to dwell on it. Ultimately the most powerful method is to respect yourself, never forget your self worth and the emotional pain will subside. The more resilient you are, the more your brain will help you in dealing with rejection and ultimately the emotional pain will fade just like any other physical wound that heals.