Are Your Loved Ones Excluding You? Survive the heart pain!
When and how is our emotional need for love and connection denied on purpose? If you’ve been reading our blog, you know there are many ways to do this to each other, (cold shoulder, anyone?) and many ways to heal. In the interpersonal relationship field, we are always doing this dance of connecting and isolating ourselves, going between togetherness and individual action.
But what about group interaction? As humans, we have a basic need to belong to the "tribe" - which group you want to belong to, you decide, but you still have a need for company. When we are excluded or “ostracized” in any interaction, it strikes a blow to our self-esteem. This even includes interactions with strangers, such as networking seminars for work, group activities at school, blind dates, or any other point where we might be rejected by a stranger. It is also devastating on youngsters; the impact of school bullying, where one person is selected to be rejected by a group of peers, has long-lasting effects on self-esteem.
Of course, being rejected by a loved one or family member can be even more hurtful, giving us deep heart pain. The rejection can be transitory, like in the silent treatment, lasting some time, or can be long-lasting, when one part of the family decides to alienate a parent, a sibling, or another relative, forever. Here you have estranged parents or grandparents, still unable to heal the divide for years and prevented from having their biological children and grandchildren in their lives.
You might already know that passive-aggressive behavior often revolves around avoiding rejection - the emotion is so painful that it calls for hurting others first. But even if you’re not passive-aggressive, you know what it’s like to be rejected, and you probably subconsciously avoid the emotion. According to Kipling D. Williams, a Purdue University expert, ostracism can cause pain that often is deeper and lasts longer than a physical injury; he calls it an “invisible form of bullying.”
What happens in the brain when we’re rejected? Interestingly, the part of our brains that register physical pain also feels the sting of emotional pain like rejection.
Studies have shown that there is no one personality that is more or less susceptible to rejection and its damaging effects - it happens to all of us. Some of us may cope with rejection differently, however; we may try harder to be included by being more obliging and doing extra favors. Or, we may try to get attention by provoking others or even being aggressive. In extreme situations, continually being rejected can lead us to become overall less friendly and more distant to people, acting out on the sadness and pain that we’re feeling. Imagine having an intense wound that rude people kept poking their fingers in - wouldn’t you be angry and stop trusting those who approach saying “I’m only here to help”?
Anyone who is in this situation should know about the long-term impact of emotional alienation and discover that there is always help out there for those willing to seek it. Even just a wise friend can help you, or a supportive coach.
Another tip is to analyze carefully who you’re trying to be included with - are those you’re trying to impress promoting unhealthy ways of life and communication? Remember that your best bet at having a happy life is to surround yourself with others who are accepting and supportive - not negative and harsh. Their rejection can be a blessing in disguise!
And of course - remember that you can reject others, too, and cause them pain. Be aware of both your own emotions and those of others in order to put a stop to the vicious cycle of alienating others produced by the impulse to hurt, without thinking about the pain inflicted.
Do you need help learning how to cope with rejection, or how to know if you are rejecting others without realizing it? A Conflict Coach can help you here, with lessons and tips that will be useful to you in healing. Please ask for a free session with me, Coach Nora, at Conflict Coach today to learn more. Next time, we will look at the many ways of doing relationship repair..