The Art & Science of Rejection is a resource for people to learn and experiment with rejection. There is an art to experience both rejecting someone and being rejected. The science of rejection is vast and insightful. It gives us insights into who we are and as Bruce Lee puts it, “all knowledge is self-knowledge.” Learning about the science of rejection gives a person the capacity to recognize how rejection affects them.
When a person learns how rejection affects them, they begin the journey to developing the art of rejection. Studies on rejection span across many scientific disciplines. From behavioral psychology, cognitive psychology, social psychology, interpersonal studies, and negotiation and sales strategies.
Volumes of research point to the direct, automatic physical and psychological reactions to rejection. In sum, the brain doesn’t know the difference between physical pain and rejection. What that means is that we experience rejection as if it were intense physical pain. What is more, people, when given the option, prefer physical pain over the rejection of a loved one.
In the TED talk titled how to make stress your friend, Kelly McGonigal shared how mindset about stress can be the difference between thriving and dying.
Some people believe that stress is a bad thing. There are numerous books, blog posts, and online videos on how a person can de-stress, stress less and eradicate stress from work and life. The end goal is to try and manage something that is inherent in life. Therefore, many people end up medicating to manage stress. Others experience a gradual decline in health. Many lose valuable sleep or stress. According to McGonigal, it’s all about how they think about stress.
On the other hand, stress can be viewed as a challenge, an opportunity for achievement. People who reframe stress into a challenge, experience stress positively. It helps people shift from a negative mindset, towards an active, excited frame of mind. On Psychology Today, Dr. Hendrie Weisinger critiqued McGongals work pointing out that this shift in mindset is simply cognitive reframing. Cognitive reframing is a transition in mental, physical, and behavioral response. This transition is a form of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). Approaching stress with REBT is a form of psychotherapy that helps people pinpoint stressful thoughts and feelings and challenges the reality of those thoughts and feelings and then replaces them with more helpful thoughts and feelings.
Rejection, by and large, is experienced negatively. Like pain, people don’t like to talk about it and go to great lengths to avoid it. The problem is that it is a reality that we cannot escape. The ultimate rejection is death. I share McGonigal’s work and Weisinger’s critic because reactions to rejection are inescapable. How or if we choose to react to rejection can be the difference between good, better, and best outcomes. I believe that we can, over time, get better at recognizing how we experience rejection and make intentional shifts in actions that lead to better and best outcomes to rejection.
Let me stress here that my efforts are not to eliminate, bolster up, harden, or create immunity or tolerance to the automatic, physiological, and psychological effects of rejection. People can develop, to a certain degree, a tolerance to physical pain. But, we cannot mute, dissolve, or eliminate the automatic reaction of rejection.
Not even psychopaths or narcissists can escape the effects of rejection. In fact, aggressive reactions to rejection are most prominent in narcissists and psychopaths. I’m not a credentialed psychology. I’m not prescribing a treatment for people who struggle with rejection. My purpose is to share what I’m passionate about and offer knowledge and methods to try. I’m a study group of one. If you try things out and they work then we can expand the study group size. If it doesn’t work, then we can move on from what doesn’t work and continue the search for better approaches to the art of rejection.
That was long-winded and perhaps a little heavy. But I feel that it is important that my readers do not mistake my intentions. Rejection is a very powerful, intimate experience. It’s inevitable that I will get things wrong. So I invite psychologists, sociologists, cognitive therapists and scientists, and anyone who has insights into rejection to contribute, critic, and constructively reject what I am producing. I am limited in my abilities and welcome any expansion and improvement to my work.
The Art of Science of Rejection is a project that I hope will grow over time to help people all over the world to come to terms with rejection and open the doors to getting more out of their personal and professional lives.