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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 30, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 05
Insights & Perspectives
REJECTION: IT HURTS
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Insights & Perspectives
REJECTION: IT HURTS

by Michael Raitt - SGN Contributing Writer

We've all had it happen to us and we've all done it to someone else - rejection. It comes in the form of being rejected as in being fired from a job, being rejected by our family for being LGBTQ, friends reject each other, and romantic relationships or interests can end with a rejection. We know how much it hurts, too. We get sad, withdrawn and often doubt ourselves. Depending on the rejection, sometimes we don't feel like we want to live anymore. By nature, humans are pain aversive creatures. We don't like physical pain nor do we like emotional pain.

I've yet to meet one person who hasn't experienced rejection. What I have found, though, is that the experience of rejection moves people into one of two general groups; those who know it is a part of life and those who are so hurt by rejection that they recoil from life.

It is impossible to quantify the pain of rejection in either group. In my observations, the pain is the same and I have never gotten any sense that the hurt is any greater or less for individuals.

For those who know it is a part of life, they have their experiences; then they move on. As it relates to friendships or romantic relationships, they know they take a risk of getting hurt, but they put any fears they have aside and get on with getting back into relationships. They don't constantly keep the potential of heartache in the forefront of their minds. They get involved in enjoying relationships and deal with any rejection if it comes their way. You know these people - a marriage or long-term relationship has ended and within months, they are back in a significant relationship.

Other individuals experience the pain of rejection so much that they feel they cannot bare that kind of pain again. As a result, they feel that they cannot put themselves into any situation where they might subject themselves to being hurt again and they withdraw from certain relationships.

It is common for people who have withdrawn from relationships to want a 'guarantee' that if they develop friendships again or decide to date again, they will not be hurt. It is an understandable desire but it is 100% impossible to have.

People hate hearing that hurt and pain are intrinsic to life. They cannot be avoided. Love and pain are not separate entities - they are two sides of the same coin. Anyone who has loved has felt pain. Some of you are probably say, 'duh!' However, this is a key concept to making yourself vulnerable again.

One who has been hurt has to reconcile that it will happen again and that the pain they are experiencing is normal. They have to realize that there will never be a guarantee and the only way to have a relationship again is to change their expectations and willingly suspend their fear of hurt. If they don't make themselves vulnerable again, they will not pull themselves out of their withdrawal. They will allow their fear to drive their lives and they will miss out on one of the most important experiences of the human existence; being in a significant relationship.

If you are feeling the sting of rejection, make a decision about how you want that pain to influence your life. Are you going to get back out there or are you going to succumb to your hurt and pull away? You will be all right if you take another chance!

Michael Raitt, MA LMHC, is a therapist and a contributing columnist to the SGN. If you would like to comment on this column, have a question you'd like him to write about, or would like to suggest another topic of interest, please contact him at Michael.Raitt@comcast.net.

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