9 Scary Ways Rejection Messes With Your Mind

This is your brain on rejection.

rejected man

One of the most painful things that everyone will end up feeling at least once is rejection. Whether it’s not getting the job you wanted or just having a hard time in the dating scene, it can and will hurt, up until you learn to deal with rejection.

The funny thing about rejection is that it’s both necessary and can become incredibly damaging. Scientists have even done studies about how rejection can hurt someone, and what they found is pretty terrifying.


Why does rejection hurt so much?

Did you know that our brain can't tell the difference between the pain of a broken arm and the pain of a breakup? It's true! Researcher Naomi Eisenberg at UCLA found that the receptors that feel both social and physical pain are in the same parts of our brains.

Another study done by Ethan Kross, et al, put people in an MRI machine and asked them to recall a recent rejection. What they found was that the area that lights up when in physical pain also lit up when participants were asked this question.

Rejection hurts so much because we feel it as deeply as we do with physical pain. That's just how our brains were wired.


RELATED: People Who Bounce Back After Being Rejected Have One Psychological Trait In Common

What does constant rejection do to a person?

1. Rejection instills within us a need to be accepted by our peers.

The reason why we are so averse to rejection is evolutionary in nature. If you think being rejected by a group now sucks, imagine what it was like back in the days of cavemen.

Being rejected could easily become a death sentence because you would have been unable to have protection and resources available to you. Humanity evolved to be social as a result and therefore also gained an innate fear of ostracism and rejection.


2. Rejection messes with our basic needs.

Humans are wired to need love and acceptance from their fellow people. When you’re rejected, it sends a signal to your brain that your needs are not being met. This, in turn, causes serious stress and puts you in survival mode.

This is precisely why reaching out to friends tends to help us get over rejection and why people who are rejected by their crush may feel better after a fling.

3. We’re wired to blame ourselves when we get rejected.

Ever notice how we immediately tend to blame ourselves and our shortcomings when rejected? Rejection has been proven to lower self-esteem and confidence.

4. The more we expect rejection, the more we’re sensitive to it.

This is why a lot of people tend to get into crazy downward spirals when they get rejected a bunch of times.


They end up becoming hypersensitive to rejection, which messes with the way they interact. After all, when you expect bad things to happen, bad things often will happen.

5. Long-term rejection can cause trauma.

Some evidence suggests that people who get rejected too frequently may end up developing a fear of people or a hyper-vigilance around them as a result of too much rejection. Terrifying? Yes, but that’s not even the scariest thing about the way rejection hurts us, either.

RELATED: How To Overcome Your Fear Of Rejection (So You Can Find A Healthy Relationship At Last)

6. Rejection is linked to aggression and violent behavior, particularly in men.

Ever wonder why guys flip out when rejected? According to a number of studies, even mild rejections have been linked to spikes in violence because it tends to make us feel attacked.


In other words, those who feel rejection may feel like they have to retaliate because their brains make them act like they’re attacked.

A lot of scientists believe that this is because men view rejection as an attack on their identity and their masculinity. This is why a lot of school shooters and mass murderers cite “rejection” as the reason why they snapped.

Obviously, violence is still not an acceptable reaction, but it does serve as a fascinating look into the anger people feel when rejected politely.

7. Constant rejection can lead to extreme behavior.

Most people have noticed that those who are deemed “social rejects” tend to have very strange behavior around others. Believe it or not, rejection and loneliness are both partially to blame here.


When a person is stressed (due to rejection or other issues), they are more prone to extreme behavior and less likely to act within social norms. In extreme situations, they may even lose the ability to discern what social behaviors are considered normal.

8. Romantic rejection can turn you into a judgmental person.

One study showed that women rejected by an attractive man were less likely to want to date an unattractive man and way more likely to harshly judge him. Once again, if you don't know how to deal with rejection, you are not your normal self.

9. If you aren’t careful, you can frequently relive rejection.

Studies also showed that people were way more likely to relive devastating rejections than other forms of emotional pain, particularly if it was a rejection from a person they held in high esteem. Thankfully, learning positive coping skills can help you avoid this.


RELATED: 8 Ways To Deal With Rejection From A Guy So He Never Breaks Your Heart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer based out of Red Bank, New Jersey whose work has been featured in Yahoo, BRIDES, Your Daily Dish, New Theory Magazine, and others. Follow her on Twitter for more.