Rejection – The Truth and How to Overcome It

In entrepreneurship, rejection is a common given. Why? A million reasons from your product not the “correct” fit right down to how a single person is feeling in that particular moment.

We are probably rejected at least once a day and that might be out your control entirely. So, time to buck up, because the sooner we accept that it happens, the quicker we can learn how to overcome it and move on.

Hunter-Gatherers

The feelings we gain from rejection date back to a time when we were hunter-gatherers. During those times, the need to be in a tribe served the purpose of survival, the bigger the tribe the better chances of survival. If you were rejected from the group death was imminent.

Because of the high consequences of rejection in those times our instincts heightened, thus causing pain. This pushed a hunter gatherer to change in order to gain back their status within their tribe otherwise their dead meat!

Rejection is hard-wired in our brains and everyone suffers it!

When we experience rejection we talk about how it “hurts”. But that notion is not so far-fetched as it seems.

A study was carried out to see if we actually go through pain when experiencing rejection. In this study, they experimented on 40 individuals putting them through physical rejection by applying heat, and psychological rejection –  the people recently went through a break-up. An fMRI scan showed an overlapping of the same parts of the brain that feel physical rejection and pain as with psychological rejection.

Thus, causing us pain.

You can’t avoid the pain. The pain is going to hit you faster at the time of the rejection because you are trying to protect yourself. Remember, the no.1 human instinct is to survive!

So, there you have it, the pain is real. But it’s not the pain that is the important factor. It’s how we overcome it. If the brain is as powerful as making us feel pain over something psychological, we sure as hell can manipulate it in some manner to overcome it.

Enough with the history lesson and how do we overcome it, I hear you say?

Emotional Differentiation

In a study carried out by the Association for Psychological Science, it was found that if you are able to carefully perceive and distinguish your emotional experiences it can lead to positive psychological interventions. Known as emotional differentiation or emotional granularity. 

Basically, if you come across a situation that you can identify specifically what emotions you are feeling – we are not talking anger or sadness, specific meaning miserable, frustrated, calm, curious, daring – digging into that next level of emotions, your mind can guide you to the appropriate solution to overcome the emotion.

In the study, people who can detect their distinct emotions are less likely to resort to destructive behaviours such as binge drinking or aggression; show less neural activity to rejection; feel less overwhelmed in stressful situations and have less anxious and depressive disorders. It’s also proven to increase your overall well-being.

By identifying these specific emotions, it drives you to think about what specific thing or situation is causing the emotion, in turn providing you with information about how best to act in the specific context, making you strive for the appropriate action.

Here’s the great thing – scientists reckon it is a skill, and a skill can be learned. Hurrah!!!

So why are people not learning it, if it can improve our lives?

They reckon it is because the skill naturally evolves (not necessarily well) during socialisation as we use emotion words in every day.

The study reported that teaching school kids to broaden their knowledge in use of emotion words (20-30mins per week) improved social behaviours and academic performance!!!

How does this skill help me overcome rejection?

Think back to a time where you experienced tough rejection. How did you immediately feel and how did you react and act as a person?

In my experience, I was socially rejected at high school because of the way I looked. Did I try to figure out my emotions? No, I was young all I knew was that it felt terrible.

This spur me to binge-drinking which spiralled out of control.

I always thought that when I drunk, that was when I was accepted as a person. Which was completely wrong, I was only suppressing my own emotions because I didn’t know what else to do.

10 years this went on for with a very harsh warning from the doctor that I could die in a couple years because of liver damage.

I’m still here thankfully, but as I have grown I am definitely more aware of my emotions. As you age, your vocabulary grows which allows you to be more specific about things. Emotions is one of them.

Emotional awareness and differentiation is key in allowing you to take the appropriate actions where necessary. So, the next time you come across an experience with strong emotions, step back and pin point what those emotions are.

By allowing yourself that time to think can allow you to come up with a solution rather than an immediate reaction that might send you down a path you never wanted to go down.

The solution will be a positive step of strive and focus towards the goals you want to achieve.

Nicola.

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