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.
Everyone 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
Scientists 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.