The effects of romantic rejection and the loss of a relationship can have you going through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. It's important for you to know that even though it may not feel like it at the time, most people do recover from romantic rejection, do regain their sense of worth and do start to feel happy again, so there's no reason why you can't do the same.
Rejection, the Brain and Pain
Studies involving a functional neuroimaging procedure called functional magnetic resonance imaging or "fMRI" show that the same areas of the brain become activated when you experience rejection as when you experience physical pain explains psychologist Guy Winch in his article, "Ten Surprising Facts About Rejection." This is why rejection "hurts" so much, because it appears to mimic physical pain. Winch further connects this theory by sharing information gathered from a test conducted by scientists. Participants of the test group took acetaminophen before the scientists asked them to recall a memory of rejection, and they reported that they felt less emotional pain than participants who took the placebo.
Self-Esteem and Rejection
Rejection can cause you to re-evaluate yourself, questioning everything you do in a relationship explains Julie Martin, a graduate student of social psychology and Dr. Laura Richman, an assistant professor of psychology at Duke University. In their "Science of Relationships" article, "Does Rejection Lower Self-Esteem," Martin and Richman explain that self-esteem represents an internal monitor of your acceptance level in your social world. When your acceptance is high, you feel good about yourself, but when you experience rejection, you're much more critical of yourself. Martin and Richman claim that self-esteem is adaptive and although you might defend yourself at the moment of rejection, you might be dwelling on the pain of rejection later. Then again, you could take the rejection as constructive criticism and work on bettering that aspect of yourself.
Regression After Rejection
Setbacks after rejection are real, and John Grohol, Psy.D., talks about these setbacks in his "Psychcentral" article, "Reeling From Rejection." He discusses the idea that some people seem to socially isolate themselves to avoid future rejection, instead of reaching out to others after being rejected. In fact, Grohol says that nowhere is this clearer than when that rejection is of a romantic nature. Men and women both swear off romantic involvements for weeks, months and in some cases -- for years.
How to Overcome Rejection
In her "Relationship Matters" website article, "How to Overcome Rejection in Romantic Love," psychologist Offra Gerstein offers some practical steps for overcoming rejection. Gerstein says you should respect and admire yourself by focusing on your previous successes. Get out of the victim role and take responsibility for your part in the break-up. Seek self-knowledge from your experience. For example, if your partner says you weren't very affectionate, admit to it; then, take that information and use it as an opportunity to work on that aspect of yourself. Also, surround yourself with friends and family for support.
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