Why Rejection Hurts So Much — and what to do about it.

Most of us are fortunate enough to get unconditional love from our parents when we’re babies. Whether we cry, scream, or poop, they tend to our every need and don’t reprimand us for doing such things.

But as we get a little older and become young children, expectations shift.

If we refuse to eat our dinner, we get sent to our room hungry.

We learn a valuable lesson — we need to behave a certain way to get love and acceptance from others.

If we cry, we’re told to toughen up and stop crying like an infant.

We learn that negative emotions are bad and something to be ashamed of.

From that point on, we’re forever doing two things:

  • Seeking external acceptance and validation
  • Running from negative emotions

When we’re not accepted, it hurts big time.

It hurts because it triggers that inner child that was sent to their room.

It triggers deep feelings of inadequacy.

It hurts because we believe it.

It hurts because we’re never learned how to accept ourselves.

Whether it be rejection from a romantic interest, a business or employment prospect, that sports team we tried out for, whatever the case, it ultimately forces us to come to face-to-face with the idea we’ve spent our whole lives running from — that we are not enough.

In order to avoid this feeling, we can do one of the following:

  • Avoid rejection by removing yourself from life — not pursuing that cute girl or guy, not applying for that job opening, not starting your business, not trying out for the team…but this is only going to ensure that we live an unfulfilling and forgettable life.
  • Learn to be more calculated with our pursuits, so that we increase our chances of a successful outcome, and decrease our chances of rejection

Or we can learn to accept and love ourselves, no matter what happens in our interactions with the world around us. This extends to accepting the negative emotions that are an inevitable part of life and of being human.

As Roman philosopher-king Marcus Aurelius wrote, “Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness — but for my part, none of those things can injure me, for nobody can implicate me in what is degrading”.

Truly accepting ourselves gives life a lighter, more playful tone and opens us up to a richer and more fulfilling experience of life, one where we are content with who we are, and what may come.

When we operate from such a place we stop seeing the value in doing things for other people’s validation and instead begin to live a life true to ourselves.