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This is one of a series
of brief articles on how to improve your
interpersonal relationships. This article offers
perspective on social rejections, specific
options for adapting to it;and
components for an "effective rejection." The article assumes
you're familiar with...
This brief YouTube video summarizes some of what you'll
find in this article:
Most kids and adults are social critters. Starting in
infancy, we seek social acceptance and approval
from relatives, friends, playmates, neighbors, and
co-workers. Our evolving set of social
relationships range from "not very important" to
"very important," so the need for
others' acceptance and approval varies from low
This need is affected by the clarity of
("I know clearly who I am.") and our self esteem
(low to high). Typical
of early-childhood abandonment, neglect, and
abuse ("trauma") enter adulthood with low
self esteem (excessive shame), so their need for
others' acceptance and approval is relatively high.
In this article, a
rejection occurs when one person steadily ignores
or refuses invitations of friendship
from another person. It may or may not
involve cutting off all contact.
Rejections can occur before a social
bond (mutual caring) forms or afterward.
Note the continuum between being
indifferent to someone (having no
needs, expectations, or emotional
response to them),
disliking and avoiding them,
In our warp-speed, overstimulated families and
societies, typical people are only vaguely aware
Why Rejections Happen
Rejections occur when the stress from relating
consistently outweighs any benefits. See if you've experienced any of these commonsurface reasons for rejection...
"I dislike your values and/or
some of you're behaviors."
can't communicate with you."
"I fear you."
"I don't trust you."
"I don't like the way I feel
when I'm with you."
"I'm offended and/or
frustrated by you."
"You're only concerned with
yourself. I feel ignored, manipulated,
and/or used by you."
"I don't respect you."
"I can't be myself with you."
"We have no common
"You disrespect and/or
mistreat people I care about."
don't respect my opinions, preferences, and
too frustrated with you. You deny
these traits and/or you won't try to
moderate them - even if I ask you to
I've lost all hope you'll (want
to) compromise or change."
superficial reasons for
rejecting another person. The underlying
real reasons are [unseen
ignorance of effective communication and
relationship basics] in both people.
Most relationships are a dynamic balance of
pleasure, frustration, and irritation. Healthy
people can endure moderate irritation from
traits like those above without fully rejecting
(cutting off contact with) the other person. If
the irritation and stress from traits like these
is too great and/or too frequent, and if all
attempts to reduce the stress fail, then people
"give up" on the relationship passively or
The opposite of
social acceptance is
"rejection." It's caused by behaviors that
nothing to do with you - you're not
important to me."
interested in you or your life - I don't
care about you."
"I don't like
or approve of you."
"I don't want
to spend time with or communicate with you."
"Go away -
don't bother me."
messages can apply to one adult or child, a
couple, or a family, clan, or group. They can be one-way
The psychological effects of being rejected
range from minor to massive, depend on whether
gradual or sudden (e.g. after
some major trauma);
foreseen or unexpected
subtle or obvious
partial or full
consistent or erratic
explained or not
denied, excused, or admitted
assumed or actual
calm or conflictual and
rude, punitive, or respectful
temporary, conditional, or
parental, marital, family,
social, or organizational
individual or group rejection
(add your own
the most important
impact variable is whether your true Self
guides you or not. A false self is apt to feel
victimized, shamed, and humiliated by
interpersonal rejection, and a true Self will
not. Do you agree?
The mix of factors
like these + your experience, neediness, and
maturity will shape the
impact of a social rejection from minor and
"devastating" and long-lasting.
Have you ever felt rejected
by someone you valued?What did you feel -
Shocked? Hurt? Sad? Resentful?
Frustrated? Puzzled? Angry? Regretful? Numb?
Depressed? Resigned? "Heartbroken"?
Disappointed? Guilty? Combative? Several of these? Was your
true Self causing your feelings, or were some
Rejection and Wound-recovery
Perhaps the most complex and disruptive
interpersonal rejections occur between parents
and kids. A close second place would be
rejection by a biological sibling. These
specially painful because they imply loss of
family bonding, cohesion,
A parent may "disown" (reject) their child for
surface reasons like major
disapproval, disappointment, embarrassment,
disgust, guilt, frustration, egotism, ambition,
and/or pride. Doing so causes many major
psychological, social, and financial effects on
most or all family members including any
grandkids, for years afterward.
Far less often, a
may terminate a toxic (shaming, critical, conflictual,
angry) relationship with a child because their
relationship impedes reducing the parent's own
wounds ("recovery"). It may also significantly
stress the parent's marriage, finances, and/or
physical health. This may change if the adult
child commits to their own wound reduction and
More frequently, a wounded adult child may choose to admit and reduce their wounds in
mid-life, and decides that relating to a toxic
father or mother significantly slows their
wholistic recovery (and may wound their own
kids). This is specially likely if the parent is
unaware of being ruled by a false self, denies
their wounds and toxic behaviors, and blames the
child and or the other parent for family
conflicts. Real rejection requires that the teen
or adult child becomes convinced their is no
hope their parent can hearwhat they feel
and need (care), and doesn't want to seek
family-members reject each other is that
the people involved have (a) inherited
all six psychological
wounds, (b) are unaware of (or deny) this and
means, and (c) are ignorant of effective
communication and relationship basics.
It also implies
that all grandparents and parents were
never shown how to educate and nurture
Pause and reflect on your past and
current relationship with each of your
biological and any psychological parents. Have
you ever considered rejecting any of them? If
so, was that helpful? If not, was/is the
relationship reducing your wholistic health and
growth? Either way, has your true Self been
making your decisions about your relationship/s?
Abandonment and Divorce
In a family context, spousal or parental abandonment signifies a
specially-impactful type of rejection. It occurs when someone ignores
their responsibility to care for a dependent
adult or child.
be physical (Maria's father ran away when
she was four.")
psychological ("Maria lives with both
parents, but they ignore and neglect her.")
Both of these can have profoundly harmful
effects on young kids - specially those without
Psychological and legal
is epidemic in our culture. It always implies
that one or both mates has rejected the other at
least partially ("I love you but I can't live
with you."). In a minority of breakups, one
partner seeks legal protection from their ex
because of harassment and/or unwelcome
intrusions. These are signs that the partner Is
ruled by a false self which can't accept and
adapt to rejection by their mate.
Rejections Cause Losses
Any interpersonal rejection causes a group of
losses for all people
involved. If it
occurs before a bond has grown, both people lose
opportunity for friendship and shared
If rejection happens after a one-way or mutual
bond has formed, the bond is lost. That implies
the concurrent loss of valued rituals, conversations,
relationships, and expectations. ("I look
forward to taking another vacation with you.")
may also lose some of their
identity ("I used to
be friends with _____"), self respect, and
Part of a healthy response to rejection is
grieving the losses it
causes. Part of this grieving process is evolving
answers to questions like these:
why is s/he (or are they)
did I do something that
could I have prevented this?
is this rejection temporary
will (the rejecter) talk with
me about this?
what effect will these losses
have on me and other people I value?
how will certain other people
react to this rejection?
what can I learn from this
what do I need now?
childhood abandonment, neglect, and abuse often
have trouble grieving well, until they decide to
reduce their wounds,
free their true Self to
guide them, and leave toxic relationships and
SO - there are many levels of personal and group
rejection, and many factors that affect how
impactful a given rejection is.
a "best way" to handle significant rejections?
See what you think about these...
Options for Adapting to Rejection
Note - the underlined links below will take you to other
I suggest you finish reading this one
before following any such links in this section.
I propose that these are helpful ways to adapt
to personal rejections:
to see if your true Self is
you. If not, the following options
may not help. If s/he is not guiding you,
patiently study and apply
choose to believe you
can learn something useful from experiencing
estimate whether each
rejecting person is ruled by a false self
(i.e. is unaware of significant
Use this comparison for an initial estimate. If
s/he is wounded, read
this for perspective
Expand your awareness by reading and
applying these articles on...
If circumstances allow, ask
the rejecting person/s to explain their
attitude about you and your relationship. If
you've offended them in some way, consider
these options on forgiveness. If they have a problem with
your behavior, offer win-win
problem-solving if you feel genuine mutual
If ineffective communication
has promoted your relationship problems,
study and try these practical
Learn about grieving basics, and identify
specifically what you're losing because of
this rejection. Then study and apply
to help you grieve effectively over time
when your true Self guides you.
If you're adapting to several
rejections at once, learn about creating
mutually-satisfying relationships with
anyone by studying self-improvement
Lessons 1 thru 4
Do these seem like realistic options? If so, is
there anything in the way of your trying them
out? The most common barrier is unawareness of
false-self dominance (psychological wounds),
which can cause doubt, skepticism, and
If there are young people in your life,
what are you modeling and teaching them
about self-confidence, pride, and social acceptance and rejection?
Now let's look briefly at...
is an Effective Rejection?
If you choose to reject someone, you can take
proactive steps to minimize feeling anxious,
ambivalent, guilty, regretful, and/or ashamed. Tailor these steps when...
a relationship consistently
causes you too much anxiety, frustration,
guilt, shame, pain, and anger, and...
your Self is usually
guiding you, and...
all your efforts to improve
the relationship have failed, then...
choose to reject the person/s and end the
a "best way" to do this? I propose "yes."
Premise - an effective rejection is
people feeling heard and respected;
self-awareness and growth in both people;
causes little or
no residual doubt, anxiety, guilt, shame,
regret, and/or resentment.
Consider these options for making an effective
interpersonal rejection. Option - use what follows as a
Before the rejection, you...
true Self is guiding you, or you're working to
achieve that; and you...'
_ identify what
needs of yours aren't
being met; and you...
_ repeatedly use
to alert the other person to how their attitudes
and behaviors were affecting you; and you...
an attitude of mutual respect despite your
differences; and you..
_ intentionally avoid any Persecutor - Victim -
triangles; and you....
_ try to
genuinely compromise on any major
with the person; and you...
_ patiently try
with any other conflicts with her or him; and
getting one or more outside opinions from people
whose judgment you trust; and you... .
review these ageless
and chose not to act impulsively.
take these steps, then you can feel
tried every reasonable option to retain the
And you can keep feeling calm and
During the rejection, you...
_ keep your
true Self in charge despite any stressful
behavior by the rejected person/s. This
will allow you to...
_ view the
rejected person's reactions with compassion and
empathy, rather then scorn; and you...
clear on (a) the
you need to maintain with the other person/s,
and on (b) how to
your boundaries respectfully and firmly; and
_ have explained
to affected people (like kids, relatives, and
mutual friends), why you need to reject; and
_ have not
allowed other people to sway you in your
decision, despite pleas, threats, scorn, or
criticism; and you...
_ have stayed
balanced about your other life responsibilities
and goals, vs. over-focusing on the rejection
and its effects; and you...
identify and grieve any significant losses that
this rejection causes you.
underlying theme to all these options - personal
and social awareness and self and mutual
respect. Think back to one or more times
you have rejected someone. Were you consciously
aware of options like those you just read? Few
people are - which promotes feeling guilty
and/or ashamed, righteous, defensive, uncertain,
This article is one of a
series in Lesson 4 - ways to optimize your
personal relationships. It explores the primal human need
for social approval and acceptance, and the
painful experience of being rejected by
important people and groups. The article closes
with (a) practical suggestions for adapting to
significant social rejections, and (b) options
for creating an "effective" rejection.