But then instead of tossing the ball to you, the second person tosses it back to the first person, cutting you out of the game. If such a trivial experience can elicit sharp emotional pain (as well as drops in mood and even self-esteem) we can begin to appreciate how painful truly meaningful rejections often are.That is why getting dumped by someone we’re dating, getting fired from our job, or discovering that our friends have been meeting up without us can have such a huge impact on our emotional well-being.Indeed, what separates rejection from almost every other negative emotion we encounter in life is the magnitude of the pain it elicits.
That person then smiles, looks over, and tosses the ball to you. The “subject” (who thinks they are all waiting to be called for an entirely different experiment) always gets excluded after the first or second round of ball tossing.
Let’s assume your tossing and catching abilities are up to the task. Dozens of studies have demonstrated that people consistently report feeling significant emotional pain as a result of being excluded from the ball-tossing game.
You toss the ball back to the first person, who quickly tosses it to the second. What makes these findings remarkable is that compared to most of the rejections we experience in life, being excluded by two strangers tossing a ball is about as mild as rejection gets.
Rejections can cause four distinct psychological wounds, the severity of which depends on the situation and our emotional health at the time.
Specifically, rejections elicit emotional pain so sharp it affects our thinking, floods us with anger, erodes our confidence and self-esteem, and destabilizes our fundamental feeling of belonging.
Many of the rejections we experience are comparatively mild and our injuries heal with time.
But when left untreated, even the wounds created by mild rejections can become “infected” and cause psychological complications that seriously impact our mental well-being.
When the rejections we experience are substantial, the urgency of treating our wounds with emotional first aid is far greater.
This not only minimizes the risk of “infections” or complications but also accelerates our emotional healing process.
In order to administer emotional first aid and successfully treat the four wounds rejection causes, we need a clear understanding of each of them and a full appreciation of how our emotions, thought processes, and behaviors are damaged when we experience rejections.
Emotional Pain: Why Even Stupid Rejections Smart a Lot Imagine you’re sitting in a waiting room with two other strangers.