Mindfulness towards Social Rejection

Posted on October 4, 2018

Social rejection can be hurtful. The regions of a brain activated by the pain we feel from social rejection happened to also be parts of the brain activated when we feel physical pain. A few examples which might intensely trigger pain from social rejection are being neglected by our family, friends, romantic partners, work partners or even strangers. The feeling of perceived or actual rejection is depressing, and prolonging the pain felt from social rejection can lead to low self-confidence, loneliness, depression and aggressive behavior towards the people who did the rejection. If it gets serious, the one who experienced the rejection might even experience physical illness.

Regardless of the highly negative effects, social rejection is inevitable and sometimes we can’t help but feel this way due to evolution of the world. Being social creatures, we often rely on others to survive, the physical and emotional pain felt may be how our brain is trying to tell us that our desire to be involved in substantial relationships with others, isn’t satisfied.

In our interconnected society today, it is very common to experience social rejection. One of the most prevalent form of rejection today is bullying, be it online or offline. Youths tend to be more prone to negative psychological impacts of bullying and other types of social rejection which might lead to serious consequences like extreme violence and committing suicide. Social media is a common platform where we witness one being an outcast, excluded, ignored and bullied. Seeing these acts of bullying might trigger our need to help and show empathy, however the need is stronger only when it comes to people we have a connection or relationship with, people who are close to us like friends and family. Sometimes, our perception of the need to help may be influenced by circumstances where if we witness that the victim isn’t receiving any help, it is less probable for us to see the need to offer help.

As our world gradually becomes more interlinked, there is an urgent need to question how we can encourage prosocial behavior during situations where other need help. One way to do so is to engage in mindfulness practices. People who engage in mindfulness behavior and practices tend to be more empathetic towards victims who need help, leading to more acts of kindness being initiated. Surprisingly, there wasn’t any sadness felt from witnessing an abused victim, which commonly facilitates the feeling of wanting to help the victim. Those who engage in mindful acts also did not experience any righteous anger towards the abusers. Mindfulness encourages acts of compassion without victimizing or feeling sympathetic towards the victims of social rejection.

Researchers are still looking into mindfulness practices to find out if it applies to all types of situations, and whether mindfulness can facilitate more acts of kindness in real life contexts. Due to the social and political circumstances of our society today, people tend to be slightly cold and less kind to strangers, especially to those who people do not regard as family or part of their social circle. We hope to discover one day that people have the natural ability and urge to be kind and even help those who are not in their social circle.

Category(s):Emotional Abuse, Health Psychology, Mindfulness, Positive Psychology, Social Isolation

Source material from Psychology Today