Rejection is a really big Ouch in the soul; in the brain too.
FMRI studies have shown that the areas of the brain that are activated by physical pain are the same areas activated by rejection. This pretty much mean that rejection really hurts! Literally that is. If you have felt romantic rejection recently, I know you can say amen to that!
Rejection is the feeling of not being fully accepted or accepted at all. This can then result in feelings of shame, sadness and grief.
When we are rejected we tend to devalue ourselves and develop critical inner voices which can border on abusive. This is why it is crucial to heal from the rejection wound. When we do not heal, we tend to experience everything through our "I am deserving of rejection" filters and often end up with faulty conclusions.
A rejection wound can come from early childhood experiences with our parents and nurturing figures. Read my blog post "Healing is the Children's Bread" for more on childhood wounds in general.
A parent may bond differently with a sibling than they do with you. This can feel like a non-acceptance of you and a preference for them; a rejection. This can linger in our souls and self-concepts as truth, even if it is not an objective reality.
Of course for many of us, experiences in later life can leave rejection wounds also. This can look like having a romantic partner break-up with us. Let’s be honest, when that partner moves on with someone else immediately, the hurt can be even deeper. Though experiencing a breakup will hurt almost anyone who values attachment, it can have be near devastating for persons who have pre-existing rejection wounds.
There are many ways in which we can experience rejection in romantic relationships. This can be true even there is no rejection meant.
This can be felt when:
-Our partners are not very communicative
-Our partners take a longer than usual time to respond to us by text or phone
-Our partner’s body language changes. This can be as subtle as turning the head or a shoulder
-A partner chooses to spend time with other loved ones such friends or family members
-Our partners are not affectionate or the level of affection changes
-A partner is not in the mood for sex or otherwise declines sexual activity
-A partner gives criticism
-We feel like our partners are not “owning” us in public. In the social media culture we live in, some couples argue about “posting” their woman or man online. It’s real!
- A partner sides with someone else in an argument. I’ve heard some people admit that they are not secure enough to have their partner disagree with them in public (not disrespect, just disagree).
In instances when we feel non-acceptance we may act in these ways:
-Shut down communication. When was the last time you dished out the ultimate protest behaviour: the silent treatment? Be honest.
-Act in aggressive and violent ways. This may lead to physical, verbal or emotional abuse.
-Overcompensating by acting like we are super-independent or hyper-secure as if to communicate “I don’t need you anyway!”
-Reject them before they reject you. The more deeply we feel rejected is the more is the more we reject ourselves and other people in our lives. This is one of the deadly injuries in intimate relationships.
This blog series focuses on healing (not just awareness) and so it would be remiss of me to gloss over the root causes. Let me share some practical steps to healing:
-Reflect on where this wound came from. When do you remember feeling rejection most strongly?
- Start to distance your identity from how someone may have treated you. You are not your experience.
- Create an intentional practice of affirming yourself. This helps to heal the self-concept and self-esteem. This means telling yourself good things…on a regular.
-Cut off the Critic in your Cranium. Stop yourself when you feel the need to constantly list all your flaws.
-Practice making yourself a priority. Do this with your boundaries, choices and your self-love practices.
-Work with a therapist or coach to help you on the journey.
My loving reminder to you, my tribe, is that healing is not always comfortable. It can be messy work, but you are oh, so worth it!
Email me at email@example.com or connect on IG @whitelotusblooms.
Do you ever think about healing?
I can hear some of you ask “healing from what?” I’m talking about the healing of your emotions.
The reality is that life for many of us brings us a mixture of pleasant and painful experiences. (I’m not even gonna touch on when pleasure and pain intersect).
Sometimes the painful experiences lodge in our heartspace and headspace.
Ultimately until we work through how the seeds of our past are blooming in our present lives, our wounds will go unhealed.
As I was reflecting recently, I came to the realization that healing is a huge part of my mission and purpose.
So, I am inviting you to join me on a journey of exploring more deeply what your healing status is, and what you want it to be.
I also hear some of you saying “the past is the past.” I feel you, but here is the thing; the past doesn’t really stay in the past until we metabolize it and come to some understandings of it. That means we must go through the pain and not around it. And here is the real uncomfortable clincher: “You cannot think your way out of a wound, you have to feel your way through it.”
I already know from working with clients and from my personal experiences that many of our inner wounds and trauma may not be conscious. This means we are blind to them. I don’t know if that scares you but all I’m gonna say is “we repeat what we don’t heal.” This is why this work is cri-ti-cal.
My vision is that we step into healing of our inner wounds, mindsets, relationships and our legacies.
So let’s kick start the conversation.
Some common inner wounds (often experienced in childhood, but also can occur in later life) are:
Let’s focus on abandonment for this article:
The abandonment wound can come from loss of love itself. It is can also come from the loss of other types of connections. Generally a deep sense of loneliness is the result. This type of wound can come from
An abandonment wound can lead to some negative patterns. It can lead persons to feel emotionally dependent on their partners and their closest circle. They feel that they really cannot manage by themselves. It can also lead to a fear of being rejected, and invisible barriers to forming connections.
Subconsciously we fear being abandoned, but we are very likely to keep repeating the cycle of abandonment, hoping that we will one day resolve it and thereby master it. When we play out a fear of abandonment we may sound like: “I’ll leave you before you can leave me”, “nobody supports me, I am not prepared to be there for anyone else.” These two belief systems can make forming connections difficult. Despite the deep desire to connect, the fears and the risk of abandonment can act as a barrier.
There may be deep insecurity and feelings of unworthiness to receive love, affirmation or support. When there is a fear of abandonment we can be hypersensitive to criticism and to separation (real or perceived!). Not hearing from a loved one for a short period of time can create intense distress. Imagine, calling your man/woman 7 times in a row until they pick up. All because of separation anxiety.
Another possible consequence is choosing relationships in which our needs are not prioritized. If we are not accustomed to someone counting our needs as important, we internalize that and pretty much act in ways that confirm this “truth.” In many ways it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. We say “I believe my needs are less important than yours, so let me repress what I need. Let me focus on what you need. This is the most familiar way I know to get you to love me and stay with me.” People-pleasing patterns, anyone? And let’s be clear, this ‘selfless’ giving can be laced with resentment in relationships. We can also play out a pattern in which we expect our partners to read our minds, and we lash out when they do not. It’s can be a vicious, passive-aggressive cycle of not using our voices, casting our partners as the directors of our lives, while secretly hating them for it.
Do any of these experiences resonate with you?
Here is some help to frame our stories and not become consumed by them:
Healing is not always comfortable. It can be messy work. It costs us bravery and vulnerability. The alternative though, is several future generations paying for what you considered too expensive.
In the next blog in the series, I will share more about the rejection wound. Stay tuned!
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect on IG @whitelotusblooms.
Kamala P. McWhinney is God's Idea. I am academic, I am creative,I am dreamer. My name is Hindu for Lotus. Given the beautiful symbolism of the Lotus Flower I have embraced it as a metaphor for my evolving, my surviving and my thriving.