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More Insights Into Rejection And Why It Hurts So Much

rejection, isolation, exclusion, pain, physical pain, social pain, heartache, loss, dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC), brain & pain rejection, social rejection aggressiveness, violence, pain killers & rejection

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to like to reveal more insights into the pain of rejection, and why it hursts so much.

First a quick update: 

The Breakup Quiz

Are you heartbroken, angry, lost, lonely, confused, depressed, or pining over your ex? How would you like to benefit from personalized advice, action steps and revelations? Take my Free Breakup Quiz and get your own personalized report.

10 Ways To Overcome Loneliness, Fear and Panic During The Pandemic Crisis

It is natural and okay to feel and experience stress and fear during this time of the Covid-19 and the accompanying uncertainty. Watch the video where I reveal 10 ways to alleviate the stress, overcome loneliness, and neutralize anxiety and panic.

Now, let’s talk about more insights into the pain of rejection, and why it hursts so much.

In my article, “You Are Not Meant To Be Alone – You Are Wired For Connection & Relationships”, I revealed that “Tylenol works as effectively on emotional pain such as heartache or rejection as it does on physical pain.” This is due to the fact that the brain processes social rejection in the same way as it processes emotional pain – in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and to a lesser extent the anterior insula.

The brain signals from where the pain is coming, and how serious the pain is.

Why does the brain do this?

At birth, humans are helpless; they cannot protect or provide for themselves; they need other humans to care for and protect them. As they grow and mature, they still need other humans to help them to survive and thrive.

Thus, social connection is critical to survival and the brain protects us two ways:

1. By creating pain when experiencing social rejection or exclusion, the brain signals that we must avoid rejection and seek belonging to survive.

2. The pain reinforces the need to belong and to seek social connection and avoid separation

Further, it has been argued by researchers that people who are sensitive to physical pain are also equally sensitive to the pain of social rejection. I have not found that to be true for me. I can tolerate intense physical pain while being more sensitive to the pain of social rejection. However, again research reveals that generally people whose brain produces higher levels of opioids to deal with physical pain tend to experience less emotional pain because the brain also produces higher opioids in response to social pain.

Nonetheless, what matters is that the brain processes social pain as physical pain and it does so in various contexts such as rejection, exclusion, loss of a loved one, and loss of an unborn child. Note that even with social media, you can experience the feeling of rejection or exclusion in the form of being snubbed on a dating site or app, being ignored, not receiving likes for a post, or receiving harsh criticism in the form of comments on a chat board.  

Antidotes To The Pain Of Rejection Or Exclusion

Rejection and loss feel like actual heartache. And the very strategies we adopt to help us with physical pain can also reduce emotional pain.

Social support lessens physical pain and, it lessens emotional pain. Social support even in the form or looking at a photo of a loved one can lessen the pain of rejection. Both of these actions, reduce emotional pain because they are doing the opposite of the trigger of rejection – they are creating belonging and inclusion. Holding the hand of your partner lessens both physical and emotional pain, and it is more effective than holding the hand of a stranger or using a squeeze ball. When you experience rejection or exclusion or loss, be careful not to isolate yourself. Loneliness is deadliner than chain smoking. Connecting with others and allowing them to listen and support you is critical to healing and reducing the pain.

More Harm And Pain From Social Rejection – Aggressiveness & Violence

Research also reveals that extreme social rejection can lead to aggressive and violent behaviors. In the research that I have done into the profile of mass shooters and school shootings, I identified 4 of the 20 characteristics of mass killers as connected to rejection and unhealthy social connections:  

* Social withdrawal
* Lack of emotional support from friends and family; bad or non-existent relationship with dad
* Lists of grievances (people who wronged the murderer)
* Feelings of extreme disappointment, frustration, failure, rejection or despair

It is possible that the extreme rejection, exclusion, and isolation causes such pain that the brain also perceives it as a threat of physical harm:

“If the threat of social rejection is interpreted by the brain in the same manner as the threat of physical harm, physiological stress responses might well be triggered in both situations… aggressive responses to social rejection might be a byproduct of an adaptive response to physical pain – one that fails to serve an adaptive function in the context of social rejection.”

– Naomi Eisenberger, Social Psychologist, UCLA

Beware Of Hurting Others Via Rejection And Exclusion

Social connection – being included and belonging are necessary for survival and healthy adaptation. The physical pain that is felt from rejection, exclusion, loss of a loved one or isolation is designed to move us closer to others, to bond, unite and form families, groups or tribes.

Next time you are about to harshly reject or exclude someone, choose to remind yourself of the intense pain that you have experienced from rejection or exclusion. There will be times in your life that you need to disconnect, reject or even exclude people from your life; simply choose to do so with care and compassion.

And if you or a friend need help to resolve pain from love or failed relationships, do as others have done and resolve it rapidly and be set free of the pain by experiencing my SRTT process  – without reliving the pain: book a one-on-one session with me.

You can add to the conversation below.

I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D. Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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