Rejection from family members is a painful experience that can leave deep emotional scars. Unfortunately, it is a common experience that many people have faced at some point in their lives.
Whether it is a parent who disapproves of your life choices, a sibling who refuses to speak to you, or extended family members who exclude you from family gatherings, rejection can be devastating.
However, understanding the psychology behind rejection can help you cope with it and move forward.
It is important to understand that rejection triggers the same parts of the brain as physical pain. The anterior cingulate cortex, a region of the brain responsible for processing physical pain also activates when we experience social rejection.
This is why rejection can feel so painful and why it can be difficult to simply shake off. Our brains are wired to take social rejection seriously as it was once a survival mechanism to stay within social groups.
Another reason this stings is because of the significance of the family unit in our lives. Our families are often our primary source of emotional support, love, and validation. When this support is withdrawn, it can feel like a loss of identity and purpose.
This, however, should not be an excuse to reject yourself too. If anything, it is the best time to practice self-compassion. Be kind and understanding towards yourself during this time. Show yourself the same concern and support you would offer to a good friend.
Since your family is not providing the support you need, it is crucial to seek it elsewhere. Friends, therapists, or support groups can provide a listening ear and emotional assistance. You also need to learn how to reframe your thoughts.
Instead of dwelling on negative thoughts and feelings about the rejection, try to focus them in a more positive light. For example, instead of thinking “I am not good enough for my family,’’ try to look at the positive relationships in your life and the qualities that make you a valuable person.
In a situation where the rejection is ongoing and toxic, it may be necessary to set boundaries or cut off contact. This can be a difficult decision but it is important to prioritise your mental health and well-being.
Without removing yourself out of that situation it will be difficult to focus on personal growth. Rejection can be an opportunity for growth and self-reflection. Take that chance to work on your goals, passions and self-improvement.
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