Rejection hurts. It’s an emotional wound that is hard to suppress or redirect. We are social animals—we fundamentally desire to be accepted. Even people like me that gives less fucks than most.
Our risk of rejection use to be limited by our “tribe” or social circle—and has recently bled into social media platforms where we have the ability to be connected to thousands of humans daily. Whether it’s in our personal life or not, one thing remains—rejection hurts more than we like to admit.
Rejection destabilizes our desire to be loved, leaving us feeling unsettled and socially untethered. To overcome this pain we must acknowledge why we respond so negatively to others incomplete opinions of us.
Our brain is wired in a way that when we experience social rejection, the same part of our brain that become activated with physical pain gets activated with social pain (shown in fMRI studies). It’s an evolutionary adaptation due to not being able to survive alone. Being ostracized would likely result in death in primitive times. Our brain is pretty incredible, right? People experienced rejection were likely to change their behavior to adapt to remain part of their tribe. It’s a survival mechanism that no longer serves us in the current war zone that the interwebs are. People don’t change when we attack or shame them anymore. They do tend to dig into their preconditioned beliefs more-so than otherwise though when met with rejection. Ego preservation takes precedence over survival in the current evolutionary mismatch. It’s biologically built in but this doesn’t mean it’s in our best interest to feed into the self defeating thoughts that come along with being rejected. Just because it comes naturally doesn’t mean it is best (appeal to nature).
So what do you do?
1.) Don’t take things personally.
Most opinions that are made about you online are incomplete and coming from someone with an ego too large for their own skull. They don’t know who you are as a complete human and overestimate their ability to discern where there may be holes in their data collection.
Simply put; don’t assume rejection is personal when it almost never is about you. It’s indicative of the other persons wants—and not your worth.
It’s tempting to list out all your faults when we are rejected. I get it. Don’t do it. By all means—review what happened as objectively as possible to improve upon character deficits, but there is zero reason to be punitive while doing so. Doing an exhausting list of what you could have done wrong is unnecessary and misleading.
2.) Remind yourself that this means nothing to your survival (obviously this doesn’t apply if they are attempting to doxx/cancel you on a professional level).
I’m not a absolutist about how to deal with this, as long as you’re not attempting to destroy their character with malicious lies (hypocrisy if that’s your motive). If someone attempts to destroy your ability to survive by trashing your reputation, who am I to say what is necessary for you to be afforded the ability to provide for your family? What I take issue with is when people attempt to ruin your reputation and career for holding different beliefs on a subject, even if they are misguided and objectively false.
3.) Affirm your worth as a human.
We all want to be accepted, as we are social animals. But we need to remind ourselves that we are a valuable human, and one social groups opinion of us isn’t indicative of absolute truth.
When your sense of self is jeopardized it’s important to remind yourself of what you do bring to the table. Remind yourself of everything you do right. This is a skill to be honed in on. That inborn negativity bias will get you if you’re not diligent about practicing listing out your attributes, rather than your shortcomings.
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