Most of my weekends in the past four years have gone something like Anna Nalick’s famed song “2 am”. I receive calls from young clients who tell me that they are unable to take the hurt, and ask if I could help unravel their latest cause of misery of having lost their heart to someone only to be rejected. Romantic rejection in the words of Dr. Guy Winch ‘tears our emotional skin and penetrates our flesh causing internal bleeding of the highest order’.
Rejection is something we face commonly in our daily lives since childhood such as friends shunning us for the company of other seemingly cooler friends. By adulthood we are expected to handle rejections like a boss, but that sadly is not the case because come adolescence & adulthood, enter the mother of all: romantic rejection! Society often tends to scoff at and undermine treating a breakup. But sadly, a broken heart is the hardest to mend and once repaired patches do show through.
A dumped individual according to Dr. Susan Quilliam undergoes the same bereavement cycle as one who has lost a loved one to death viz. “shock, denial, grief, anger, blame, self-blame, helplessness, fear of the future, depression and finally acceptance”. This for sure highlights the severity of a romantic rejection and it must therefore be tactfully dealt with. Getting romantically rejected or dumped (as it is more commonly known) has the following effects:
- The BIOLOGICAL effects are a kind of lingering visceral pain, a.k.a that aching feeling in the gut, feeling of getting punched in the chest, headaches, insomnia, stress eating or a loss of appetite
- The PSYCHOLOGICAL effects are anger, major self-esteem blow, bouts of depression & anxiety and emotional pain
- The SOCIAL effect is the damage to our being that we don’t belong. It makes us withdraw from social interactions to avoid getting our hearts broken yet another time
The shrink’s special for today is some self-help for the dumped soul. Goes best with a generous garnish of tender loving care
Since there are three components that are impacted during a romantic rejection, treatment or first aid should also follow a three-pronged strategy i.e.
- BIOLOGICAL INTERVENTIONS:
- Cry: According to Judith Orloff, emotional tears have special health benefits since they are a means to excrete pent up stress hormones (e.g. cortisol), that have accumulated during the highly stressful breakup. Biochemist Dr. William Frey found that crying not only excretes cortisol and toxins but also stimulates the production of endorphins-our painkiller and happy hormones. It has also proven that people tend to sleep better after a good cry thereby combating situational insomnia. So the next time anyone tells you that only weak people cry, you ask them to take a hike or show them this piece of info!
- Exercise: Taking up any form of exercise in addition to regulating metabolism, combating nausea and bodily aches like stress headaches, enhancing appetite, shedding off those extra pounds gained by binge eating and booze, has been proven to secrete endorphins thereby diminishing our perception to pain. Also getting fit and looking nice serve as a major self-esteem boost; a portion of which is often lost while we get dumped
2. PSYCHOLOGICAL INTERVENTIONS:
- No hosting a pity party– Whenever you have self-critical thoughts, always articulate relevant counterarguments clearly in your mind instead of falling prey to it. For example a thought such as “maybe I wasn’t good enough for her/him” should be instantaneously alternated with “maybe the other person preferred a specific type that I did not fit”. Thought substitution with productive counterarguments when put into action appropriately, effectively soothe hurt feelings, reduce anger and aggression and also greatly minimize damage to self-esteem
- Head the L’Oreal way, because you are so worth it– Replenishing confidence and self-worth is an important way of reminding ourselves of our qualities that many others find attractive, valuable and desirable. Make a list of your qualities and introspect on why your qualities are significant, how they influence your life and how they play up to your advantage. This goes a long way in reviving health, happiness and our public persona
- 3. SOCIAL INTERVENTIONS:
- Let it all out: Social support is crucial. Share your distress with a close confidante as telling someone about your pain serves as a great form of catharsis. However be wary of telling all your friends (misinformed well-wishers) as this will just turn out to be another classic case of “too many cooks spoil the broth”
- Give your life back to social connections and they will breathe life back into you: According to Guy Winch, our need to belong comes with the safety button of substitutability e. new memberships and relationships have a tendency to psychologically replace those that have ended, especially if and when they provide a better fit for our personality and interests. It doesn’t have to be a romantic relationship, can be a meaningful friendship, a mentor-mentee relationship etc. So go on out and take up a membership at a place offering your favorite hobby/activity. You may just find people who fit your bill
- Drive away the pangs with a snack: Ever seen the knorr soup commercial which targets hunger pangs, with a jingle that goes something like “choti choti bhook, bye bye”? Scientists have found that glancing at photographs of family and good friends, reading meaningful wishes and letters, going through mementos and awards acquired in the past all serve as social snacks that give one a feeling of being mentally satiated
- This form of biopsychosocial intervention aims at creating a layer of resilience to future rejections and minimizes to a great extent the damage they cause to our self-esteem, whatsoever the reason behind the rejection maybe. This process of developing emotional resilience is aptly termed desensitization by leading psychologists.
There are times in our lives, when no one can help us but ourselves. Therefore self-help has been touted as the one of the most effective forms of dealing with emotional injuries. However, if this form of self-help is a bit too overwhelming for you, please visit your nearest mental health expert as I have been told time and again by several patients that it feels great to get help during distress!
Shoutout to Mr. Varun for requesting today’s topic.
Shoutout to long time buddy Mr. Abhishek Jain- here’s wishing you a very happy birthday!!