By Prakash Sutradhar, BBN Contributor.
Do you remember your school days when you were picked up last for the soccer team? Or when you were not asked for New Year party, or when teacher in the class didn’t look at you while teaching or you went to a party but people didn’t show interest in you or you asked you friend to go out but they denied… how does it feel in those situation?
It feels bad, rejected, ignored.. These are rejection we experience everyday…
There are big rejections also which hurts for a longer period of time, like rejected by your lover or rejected for a job or rejected by friends. All comes in the definition of rejection or to be precise social rejection and it hurts us every time and sometime very badly.
Is rejection a real pain ?
When we say pain it means physical pain, say you met with an accident but what about social rejection? Is it anything similar to physical pain or it is just a metaphor of pain.
For the centuries scientist all over the world thought rejection or social pain was not a real pain like physical pain but last decade scientist came out with new extraordinary findings. Lets see how physical pain and brain works.
If there is any physical pain in the body then one neuron in the brain immediately sends pain signal to the other neuron and which gives us the feeling of pain. At the same time brain also releases opiods in the space between above two neurons just to minimize the effect of pain. So people whose brains are capable of releasing more opiods will experience less pain than those people whose brain release lesser opiods. That’s why we see we all have different capabilities to tolerate physical pain.
A few years ago experiment was done between 3 people, and it was found that when they experienced a sense of rejection then the same region of the brain got activated which gets activated due to physical pain. When they faced rejection same neuron released pain signal to other neuron and to minimize that pain brain released opiods in the space between those neurons.
Recently psychologist convinced that physical pain and social pain both are real and performed by same brain part and in the same way. We might experience different flavor but both are real. In fact we can’t differentiate physical and social pain. Similarly people with depression, anxiety are not capable of releasing enough opiods and they experience more intense feeling from rejection than a normal person.
This mind blowing discovery gave more opportunities to deal with social pain, rejection. Psychologist now started giving same medicine for social rejection which they prescribe for physical injury.
As we have root of social pain in the brain, we have more options to deal with social pain and I will try to give different way to deal with it and a few experiments done by me.
Is social rejection evolutionary ?
If we want to find out the ways to deal with social pain then we have to look into our brain and their evolutionary process. We mammals are born incapable, immature and an infant mammal can’t feed him/her and we need our caregiver to take care of ourself so that we can survive. A baby needs her mother to feed her, to protect her. Our evolutionary process tells that we are given social pain so that we can survive.
Imagine if we do not experience social pain, then what will happen? We will simply die.
It is the social pain which makes a baby cry when he/she is separated from his/her caregiver. The same brain will be activated when baby feels rejected from his/her caregiver and make them cry to seek attention from their caregiver. Also it is the same social pain which forces caregiver to stay close with the child. This social pain makes us possible to survive. Both physical and social pain are real and they have the same purpose of keeping us alive.
10 days 100 Rejection
Now everything looks perfect, and I am convinced that social rejection is necessary and it is given best for us. Then why it is
social rejection makes our life miserable everyday, fear of rejection often stops us to do anything or this is the rejection which hurts us every time. To find out the answers I started reading books of various neuroscientist. Then I found one Chinese-American Entrepreneur Jia Jiang’s blog, his life was also miserable because of rejection pain and fear of rejection. He did something different to find out the answers, it was 100 days 100 rejections test. He started inviting for next 100 days. Motivated by him, I did the same experiment but in 10 days.
I decided to face rejection, because as rejection is real pain and it is done by our brain and one who is able to release more opiods during a rejection will experience lesser pain. Then my job was to master my brain in releasing opiods so that it starts releasing enough opiods in every rejection I face which will give me lesser pain. It is same as immunity system of our body. A little background of my brain made my job easier.
I started to invite rejection, everyday I kept a target of getting more than 10 rejections and goal was simple, it was to release more and more opiods in every next rejection.
I did things like, I asked one of my senior to lend me his brand new car and telling him that I am a learner. He refused me and I tried to convince him but he still rejected.
I proposed someone but she rejected me, I felt very bad but in mind I was happy because the more rejected I am feeling, the more my brain is trying to release enough opiod to damage that pain. There are other many experiments also and total 99 experiments in 10 days. You will surprised that after a few experiments I didn’t feel that much bad after rejection and fear of rejection started going away. I started looking rejection as a opportunity. My perception about rejection changed. Now rejection no more hurt me the way it used to 10 days ago.
Everything was possible just because I started to face rejection.
Psychological facts about Rejection
In those 10 days I learned more about rejection, my perception about rejection changed. I realized that rejection tells less about me but it tells more about the person who is rejecting us but the problem is we take every rejection personally. When I asked for car from my senior, his rejection told me about his insecurity about his car and his deep attachment with that car, it told nothing about me. When I proposed that girl, she rejected me. It told more about her fear of being dumped another time, it told nothing about me. I asked one of my close friend to go out with me for new year party but he rejected me. It told me more about his social phobia, his social fear of being judged by other people, it told nothing about me.
Fact is 99% of the time rejection tells us more about the person who rejects us. If rest 1% of time it tells about us then it gives us opportunity to be a better person, for personal growth. It shows us where we must change ourself.
But we consider rejection as directly related to our worthiness, our value and the moment we feel rejected we feel that we are rejected because we are unworthy.
No, this is wrong. We must change our perception about rejection because fact is different. The perception change will happen only when we will start facing rejection.
Can we numb Rejection?
As physical pain and rejection both are real and they are same for our brain. Then if we can numb our physical pain then we can also numb our social pain. The more we will become resilient to physical pain the more we will become resilient to social rejection. I did another experiment, 4 days ago I took very cold water bath (it is deep winter season) and it was like killing me. Then under water I just started thinking of a few of past rejections which did hurt me badly. Then immediately I realized less pain due to cold water . After the 30 mins cold water bath I noticed my past rejection were not hurting me the same way it used to hurt me before the bath. What I did there? I numbed physical pain by social pain and then social pain by becoming physical resilient.
We mammals are incapable and we can’t do anything alone. You can’t build a house alone nor I can’t build a rocket alone. We need other human beings to survive. We humans are social being and we are meant to be connected. We are happy when we are connected with other people and we will die when we are alone.
To make this world running our brain is fitted with organ which causes us physical as well as social pain in the same way. Without experiencing social rejection we will simply die and our happiness is directly proportional to how well we are connected with other human beings.
The more we are connected with other people the more we are happy. We can change our perception about rejection and the way we experience it and it will make us happier and world a better place.
PS: I told I faced 99 rejections in 10 days, why ?
Today is my 10th day of experiment and I am writing this article is my 100th rejection test. 🙂
Hope you enjoy.