The Pain of Rejection and What to do About It

As a Counselor and Life Coach, I have often seen one common trend with my clients. Regardless of the area they want to improve or change, many of them choose to postpone taking the right actions to achieve their goals. Some of them may have valid points to leave action for a later day; however, the majority are just trying to avoid the pain of rejection. This is mostly unconscious in nature; however, some people won’t realize that this is precisely the main block they must overcome if they are to achieve success – even after bringing the issue to light.

At some level, you probably relate. Most of us have had a big dream or goal, a vision or an inborn desire to be, do or have something more in life. Statistically speaking, very few people actually take the required action to move toward their goals.  And when we dig deep enough,  we’ll find that the reason behind this is the desire to avoid the pain of rejection.

I’m aware that I’m not uncovering any groundbreaking information in here. Truth is, we all have fears and if we are honest with ourselves, most of us know what these fears are and how they’ve been affecting the results we get in life.

What I want to bring to your attention is a study conducted by UCLA Psychologists back in 2003. This study found that there are two important areas in the human brain that respond to the pain of rejection. The interesting thing is that these areas are the same ones that respond to physical pain too. Here’s the full article if you want to read the science behind this study.

For the purpose of this article, let’s acknowledge that in essence, our brain interprets a situation where we have been rejected in the same way it would interpret an event where we experience physical pain. Taking it a step further – and this should take you to a big “aha!” moment –  the mere anticipation of the pain of rejection can also create the sensation of fear, exactly as with the anticipation of physical harm!

The implications of this are huge! Think about it: experiencing fear – either based on facts or on imagination – is powerful enough to make us want to protect ourselves. The mere fear of pain will make us avoid it, and pain of rejection causes fear as well. When the threat is real, this human function will keep us safe and alive, but our brains don’t know the difference between pain caused by real harm and pain caused by wrong perceptions and beliefs.

Personally, I found this study very interesting because once we understand that our brain has the ability to send out false signals based on reactive feelings coming from imaginary threats and non-physical pain, we realize that this physiological response is what may be preventing us from achieving success. From this point of understanding, it is possible to take responsibility and do something about it.

Realize that you have the ability to consciously differentiate between a rejection scenario and a physical pain scenario. Moreover, you can also differentiate between a real threat and an imaginary one. Thus, every time you face a situation where you run the risk of being rejected, you can consciously pause and take inventory in order to see how you are responding to the threat physiologically speaking, and how your brain is responding to the threat as well.

Thus, every time you set a goal and notice any kind of fear creeping in, realize you are in control and from that point or awareness, you get to decide to proceed rather than retreat because you know the threat is not real. This action may feel ackward and uncomfortable at first, but it can be developed into unlimited power that won’t allow fear or the pain of rejection to stop you. Eventually, this translates into more actions, satisfaction and success.

There is an extra benefit to this: you can use this awareness to evaluate your life at any time. You can remember and examine the moments where you fell short of achieving your goals. Most likely, you’ll identify the fear or the pain of rejection as a common denominator which acted as a stumbling block when you were trying to achieve something. In other words, this awareness will help you be better prepared when you pursue new dreams and goals in the future.

Here’s something to think about… Do you know what profession encounters rejection almost on a daily basis? If you said salesmanship, you’re right. Yet, you can hear a good sales person say something like, “When I present my product and the prospect does not like it, they are not rejecting me, they are rejecting the idea of my product or service for one reason or another.” Have you heard someone say this?

An important thing to note is that they actually believe what they say. Besides knowing and believing in ther product or service, this is the one thing that can make of break a sales person. This kind of attitude allows them to move from rejection to rejection without losing energy or motivation. These sales people have a strong personality and an attitude that eventually allows them to find plenty of customers who say “YES” and go on to achieve success. In other words, they have mastered bravery and courage to heights that are uncommon for most of us.

The good news, is that this behavior and attitude can be learned. Start by becoming aware of your reactions when something beyond your comfort zone presents itself. Follow the advise above and you will overcome the pain of rejection so you can have beautiful results too!

Always remember that taking responsibility over the pain of rejection is the most imortant thing a person with great goals must do, as this will be a huge factor that determines the drive and motivation to achieve success.

Was this content useful to you? Did it help you become aware of the effects of fear and the pain of rejection, and how they may be affecting your results in life? Please share your comments below…

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One Response to The Pain of Rejection and What to do About It

  1. PeteRocStar August 7, 2017 at 5:22 PM #

    This is very interesting and it makes sense to know it conscioussly to help us take action instead of avoiding it based solely on wrong perceptions. Very good post. Thank you, Tammy!

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