I find it so interesting, and perhaps even somewhat amusing how different topics seem to come into my life in thematic form. What I mean is; I sometimes find I will hap upon information or situations that fall in line with a certain theme-of-the-day, week, or month. This week the theme seems to be Rejection so I have decided I must be meant to write about it.
I began reading an article last night about rejection which talked about how rejection can not only deeply impact the psyche but also suggested that some types of rejection experienced by some people can also impact their actual neurobiology. Then today, I just happen to stumble upon an article in Psychology Today talking about handling difficult people – The Rejection Sensitive Person being one such type. Coincidence?
The Psychology Today article talks about how people with these characteristics are becoming more and more common in our culture. Many of us have had people like this in our lives – the person who seems to take what we say as a personal offense or criticism even when that was not our intention at all; the person who seems to get hurt and upset by seemingly benign interactions and may ask regularly if we are mad at them or have something against them; or the person who seems to always interpret any kind of exclusion as a personal affront. I would also venture to say that many of us have also been this type of person at some point or another in our lives.
In essence, what perpetuates this hypersensitivity to rejection is an actual very real and very intense fear of it. And because fear is often at the root of anger and aggressive behaviour, those fears of being rejected often lead to an angry reaction by way of passive or overtly aggressive behaviours toward the perceived perpetrator. Then, because the angry or aggressive response usually results in a distancing reaction from the other, the prophesy is thus fulfilled and the rejection-sensitive person is left feeling like a worthless reject. Ouch.
It’s a doozy of a cycle, and usually not one that fixes itself and definitely not one that goes away overnight. I think the only thing more challenging than having a rejection-sensitive person in our lives is being that rejection-sensitive person. I say this not to condone the behaviour, or to shirk responsibility but just to bring some awareness, sensitivity, and cause for compassion and understanding from time to time.