Does it seem like you’re always worried about what others think of you? Or maybe you get really upset if you think someone doesn’t like you or is criticizing you, even if they’re actually not? We all experience feelings and thoughts like these to some degree, but for some individuals it can impact them so much that it leads them to engage in behaviours that may appear helpful in the short-term, but in the long term hurt them more. But don’t worry, I am going to help you better understand this experience and discuss ways to cope with it.
What is Rejection sensitivity?
Rejection sensitivity is like having a super-sensitive radar for detecting rejection, criticism, or disapproval. People with high rejection sensitivity might think that mild situations, such as someone not smiling at them, mean they’re being rejected. This can make them feel very upset leading to them to avoid situations where they might feel rejected.
Here is an example. Imagine a person named Sarah. She feels very sensitive to any criticism or feeling left out. When Sarah sends a message to a friend and doesn’t get a quick reply, she might worry that her friend is mad at her or doesn’t want to be friends anymore. Even if her friend is just busy and can’t answer right away, Sarah thinks she’s being rejected. This makes Sarah feel worried and unsure, and she might send more messages to ask if everything is okay. This shows how being sensitive to rejection can make someone see normal things as rejection, which can make them feel very upset and affect their relationships.
Why Does It Matter?
Well, rejection sensitivity can affect many areas of your life. It can make it difficult to form and maintain relationships because the a person is always worried about being rejected. It can impact one’s work or school life because they might hold back from sharing ideas or taking on new challenges because of the fear of failing or being judged negatively. It can cause one to engage in behaviors such as people-pleasing or perfectionism, in an attempt to gain acceptance and avoid the perceived pain of rejection. This can also include the avoidance of standing up for themselves or asserting their rights and needs. In the individuals attempt to avoid difficult feelings like rejection and disapproval, they unintentionally behave in a way that ends up feeding feelings of anxiety, guilt, and shame. This is why it can also make it difficult for them to feel good about themselves and impact their self-esteem.
How to Cope with Rejection Sensitivity
Now that we understand what rejection sensitivity is and why it matters, let’s talk about how to cope with it. Here are some tips:
- Recognize Your Triggers: Start paying attention to the situations or people that trigger your feelings of rejection sensitivity. Once you know what sets it off, you can start to work on managing those triggers.
- Challenge Negative Thoughts: When you start to feel rejected or criticized, try to test the truthfulness of those negative thoughts. Ask yourself if there’s any evidence to support them, or if there might be another way to look at the situation.
- Practice Self-Compassion: Be kind to yourself! Remember that everyone experiences rejection and criticism sometimes, and it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a friend if they were feeling rejected.
- Build a Support Network: Surround yourself with people who support and care about you. Having a strong support network can help you feel more confident and less affected by rejection.
- Seek Professional Help: If rejection sensitivity is really impacting your life, it might be helpful to talk to a therapist. They can help you explore the root causes of your sensitivity and develop strategies for managing it.
Rejection sensitivity is a common experience, but it doesn’t have to control your life. By understanding what it is, why it matters, and how to cope with it, you can start to take back control and live a happier, more fulfilling life. Remember, if what you read about today sounds like you, you are not alone. There are people and resources out there to help you learn how to manage your reaction to real or perceived rejection. You’ve got this!