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How to Cope with Rejection in Recovery

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How to Cope with Rejection in Recovery

Imagine you’re at a party and you see a girl. You feel an attraction to her so you introduce yourself. A few minutes later you ask her out and she says no. Your ego took a shot, you start to feel angry and confused, and you’re not sure how to react. As a recovering addict, the rejection stings even more. Addicts are used to doing anything to get their fix, whether that means lying, manipulating, or coercing their way to their drug of choice. In recovery, those habits might not be completely healed. So the rejection hits harder, causing the recovering addict to respond even more irrationally.

rejectionEveryone has experienced some sort of rejection at some time in their life, whether it was after asking someone on a date, an unsuccessful job interview, or even asking your parents for a few extra bucks. So it’s important to understand that rejection will still happen after your new start in recovery. Luckily, there are things you can do to help cope with the sting of rejection.

Why Rejection Hurts

rejectionScientists have studied rejection and learned that it’s not so different from physical pain. In an fMRI scan, the brain will show the same sort of neurological response after rejection as it does when experiencing physical pain, such as breaking a bone. This response is most likely due to our past experience with natural selection during our hunter-gatherer days. We’ve almost always lived in social groups. But when a person was deemed a detriment to the group, they were excluded and sent away. However, it wasn’t likely that a human would survive on his own 1.5 million years ago. So the brain would send pain signals to the body to alert someone of danger when they were about to be ostracized. It’s actually a pretty useful trait.

There’s no doubt that we can survive on our own today, yet we still experience the same brain responses after rejection. So our reluctance to deal with it is completely understandable.

How to Ease the Sting

  • Keep Calm

    People are likely to get angry when they are rejected but that won’t solve anything. Men are very likely to respond with anger because it’s one of the few emotions that is deemed “masculine” by society. Substance abuse makes the response even worse because it takes away our rationalization abilities. In recovery, we can learn to remain calm and try to understand why the rejection occurred rather than getting angry that it happened at all.

  • See all sides

    Sometimes rejection has nothing to do with us and has everything to do with outside factors. So, let’s go back to the girl at the party. You asked her out and she said no. But it might not have had anything to do with you. She might have just gotten out of another relationship and just doesn’t want to date at all. Don’t put added stress and grief on yourself without entertaining all aspects of the situation.

  • Be patient

    Understand that it might take a while for people to see your change. Your friends and family might have lost a lot of trust in you during your addiction struggle. Therefore, they might still say no when you ask to borrow something like money. Even though you’re now in recovery, they might still not trust you to not use the money to relapse if they have past experience with you doing so. But don’t get discouraged. You’ll be the first to see a change in yourself and everyone else will follow. It just takes time.

Rejection and anger can trigger relapse if not handled properly. If you or someone you know is struggling to stay sober, please call us at 855-737-7363 for a confidential assessment.

Posted in Recovery