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The Antidote for the Pain of Rejection

by Kevin Hogan

Page 6

A Primitive Emotional Warning System

Psychologist, Mark R. Leary, Ph.D., proposes the theory that self-esteem is a type of internal meter that is built into each of us to help us detect rejection and to prompt us to avoid the threat of social rejection.

His theory suggests that the self-esteem system is an internal, psychological gauge that monitors the degree to which the individual is being included versus excluded by other people.

Kevin Hogan on Social Acceptance and Rejection Self-esteem, then, as we consider it in this article, is an internal representation of social acceptance and rejection.

Think of self-esteem as being the fuel gauge in your car. We usually never think about the function of the fuel gauge, which is keeping fuel in the car. Instead, we are focused on the alerting system of the fuel gauge. We are busy trying to keep it from registering "Empty".

The same thing goes for our self-esteem. We rarely focus on it or worry about maintaining it for it's own sake - keeping our self-esteem healthy and its tank "Full".

Rather, self-esteem should be used as a gauge to keep our own "internal gas tanks" from running low.

When your self-esteem gauge's warning system goes off… when you are sitting on "Empty", you're not thinking about repairing your self-esteem, which is what you are lacking, but your immediate response is to repair your standing in the eyes of others. You're focused on ways to maintain your positive connections that are in danger.

When your "alarm system" goes off, you immediately begin checking to see what you are doing that could possibly be turning others off to you or to something that you are doing.

"It's a primitive emotional warning system to get you to analyze the situation you're in," explains Leary. "Say you're talking to someone and notice the person's suddenly frowning; a sign of disapproval. You think to yourself, 'I said something they don't like. I've got to let them know I was just kidding'."

Rejection Alarm System and Gauge This personal alert system operates constantly with or without you being aware of it... it's on autopilot.

Over time, people develop a range of protective responses to react to the signals that their internal radar gives them.

Sometimes these responses can be as simple as hurt feelings, but other feelings such as embarrassment, shame, guilt, or jealousy can also serve as signs of this response to us. Because our adaptive response to rejection and ostracism is such a natural part of our internal selves, it often takes very little to trigger our detection system and bring out our built in defenses.

Sometimes they are right...sometimes they are wrong...but no matter what, the other person will react with "no" if they see that you are feeling rejected when they weren't rejecting you.

And that is the difference between the millionaire and the guy that never quite makes it. It's the difference between the one who gets a 5 and the one who gets a 9...and I'll show you why...and how next week.

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Kevin Hogan
Network 3000 Publishing
3432 Denmark #108
Eagan, MN 55123
(612) 616-0732

Article photos appear under license with istockphoto/mtoome and istockphoto/alancrosthwaite.

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