If you want to talk to someone, don’t talk to me.

“myoSINcerely” is part of a science-led series where I talk about cool science stuff and relate it to situations or experiences I’ve been in. Maybe you’ll learn something you didn’t before, I know writing posts for this series always teaches me cool things! 😉

“Y’know I have a torn rotator cuff, a hairline fracture in my right forearm, and a severely bruised Adam’s Apple, but that really hurt.” – Pete Becker (The One With The Ultimate Fighting Champion) *

The other day, I was catching up with one of my girlfriends which was so refreshing because ever since school it’s been hard to arrange some time to meet up or even have time in the day to talk. I decided to take a few days break to celebrate surviving another term and the start of Easter. Although I didn’t meet up with my friend, we still managed to snatch like a few hours catching up on the phone, messaging and countless Snapchats.?

Thank you Snapchat for bringing creative ways to interact with my friends who are miles away with the use of filters, conversations have definitely become much more dramatic!

So one of the conversations we were having was on the topic of rejection

Ah, rejection, a daily occurrence for everyone through various means – jobs, applications, social relationships, my sister rejecting my request of the last Ferrero Rocher… Usually, along with rejection is a string of feelings that I always questioned the existence of. Why do I have to feel upset over it, it’s over (she’s already eaten it) why do I then have to feel this longing so much that it’s in my thoughts every second of the day? (you know what would make my day better? A FERRERO ROCHER!)

Why does rejection suck?

  1. Because it hurts. Literally.

Neurologists have found specific areas of the brain through fMRI scans that are associated with rejection. Namely, these are:

  • Dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC)
  • Ventral anterior cingulate cortex (vACC)
  • Anterior insula
  • Subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (subACC)

Both the dACC and anterior insula are regions that are associated with physical pain. In a study conducted by Carrie L. Masten et al1, they found that the subACC is much more active in relation to even greater distress.

Gray727 anterior cingulate cortex
Diagram showing the Anterior Cingulate Cortex
  1. Because of the associated feelings that come with rejection.

Emotions such as unhappiness, loneliness, embarrassment, disappointments all come hand picked with rejection.

Several theorists have speculated due to the strong emotions that are provoked during and after, rejection must have an important adaptive role in human evolution.3

  • You get rejected
  • Motivational response to do something that makes one feel valued and accepted (the emotion’s action tendency)
  • An example I can think of is talking to someone about the experience because letting it all out promotes acceptance and belonging which are both a fundamental aspect of human nature.


Why is there a longing feeling after rejection?

There is actually no “real” reason why we long for a person after getting rejected (hurry up researchers, I want to know how to stop this habit!) As I told my friend, it’s always such an unhealthy cycle of rejection, becoming much more attracted to the rejecter, trying again, rejection again, attracted to them again… Aren’t human emotions super odd?

Getting over it

Mu-opioid receptor
The bottom picture shows an agonist (e.g the opioid) binding to the Mu-opioid receptor.

Won’t let ‘em hurt cha

Our guardian angel is a little opioid system2 that is known to alleviate physical pain, also acts in the frontline to fight rejection and social distress; promoting emotional well-being. When faced with rejection, mu-opioid receptors availability increases thus more opioids can bind to these super compatible receptors, acting as a shield to make it hurt just a bit less.

I bet you know who to send your next thank you card to; ah Science!

Over the years, I’ve always viewed rejection as negative and something I try to steer as far away from as possible but it is impossible to never get rejected ever, right? I’m talking about applications, jobs and especially social relationships. Growing up has made me glad that I’ve been rejected a few times because all the experiences have indeed opened new doors to new opportunities.

I’m not saying getting rejected gets easier because it doesn’t4, as my friend and I were saying, every rejection hurts as much as the last (in social situations) and disappointments and the other feelings will always come wash over after but at least, we have the opioid system watching over us, right?

  • How do you get over getting rejected?
  • Did you know about this super cool opioid system?
  • Also: I have a new layout, using the skills gained from the weekly coding classes I took, I’m pretty chuffed with it!?

* if you know, you knowwww.

A short explanation of the post title: I had an awful week last week, went for support from a “friend” of mine and was rejected. Why? Not sure. Bad day? Maybe. It sucked. But I feel so much better now, blogs are great.

20 responses to “If you want to talk to someone, don’t talk to me.”

  1. I didn’t realize that there is an area in the brain that is associated with the feeling of rejection. Rejection does suck and makes us feel baaaaaaad. Though, I do agree that rejection must have an important role within us. Otherwise, that “bad gene” will eventually retire itself out after so many generations.

    On the bright side, I’m glad we have a system that helps us fight rejection. I suppose that’s what people mean when they say that time will fix things up :P.

    I think I learned to get over rejection by finding ways to overcome it and find success some other way. It’s not the end of the world when we get rejected to something. There are more opportunities on the road ahead~

    I am liking this layout as well!

    1. Yes definitely! If it was completely useless and just there to be an inconvenience then it would’ve disappeared now surely ?

      That’s true! I’m definitely looking at it that way now ? I’m glad you like the layout!

  2. That’s interesting that a couple areas of the brain associated with rejection are also associated with physical pain! No wonder rejection hurts us so much. I agree that rejection doesn’t get any easier, but I also feel like it can be a good learning experience. Over time, I feel like I handle it better, both in how I react to it and how I deal with it afterwards. I normally try to do something else to get my mind of it. Exercising has always been a good way for me to get rid of negative energy.

    Your new layout looks great, by the way! I like the clean look!

    1. Aww, thanks Cat! I’m glad you like the layout! It’s definitely my favourite so far. ?

      I agree! Exercising definitely helps, I should start doing it again, I felt like when I did before I was happier and much more positive!

  3. That is interesting. It’s natural to be upset in this situation, but we reject other people or things. I try to get over it fast. Usually we are rejected by others with whom we don’t have much in common anyway. Hope you feel better now. x

    1. I do feel much better now Anca, thank you for popping by!

  4. Hey, I really like the new layout! I think you did a beautiful job on it! I even like the focus you did created around the textarea.

    Anyways, I’ve always wondered why we are so prone to rejection. Yes, it does hurt quite a LOT. Especially, if you’ve been eyeing this super hot boy, only to find out he’s been eyeing this super cute girl. Rejection is the worst in anything. I’ve had my fair of rejections be it from boys I liked, to best friends just giving up, and etc. It’s not fun. I’m glad you brought up this topic. I had no idea that there were parts of our brain that reacts as such. That is a cool lesson. I took Psychology and I really don’t remember ever grasping on this concept. Though, just because I didn’t grasp on it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Ya know? Rejection sucks period.

    1. Thanks Jamie! I’m glad you like it ?

      It does suck, but at least we can get over it and move on, looking back at it hopefully positively.

  5. An interesting read, and I like that you have primary sources. I guess from an evolution stand point, it make sense that the ones who can feel and overcome rejection, and have the desire to be accepted by the group is more likely to procreate rather than the ones who are indifferent to rejections.

    How I get over rejection? Vanilla ice cream, a good movie, and a box of ferrero rocher! 😉

    1. Oo thanks Thao! ? I did have to buy a box of Ferrero rochers after writing this post.

  6. Of course with my certain disabilities and anxiety, rejection was always so frightening to me because I equal that to no one caring about me and just loss. Luckily, I realized that you’ll get rejected or accepted, but it never hurts to ask. It’s not an easy thing to realize and work on, but I’ve done it. I’ve conquered my anxiety and my disabilities when it comes to rejection. I accept it humbly now.

    1. That’s inspiring Michelle, thank you for your input! It does take time to work on but in the end once you’ve mastered getting over it, it’s extremely beneficial ☺

  7. Its normal to feel that way dear especially in this situation . Working out always help me and listening to the favorite music. Hope you feel better soon 🙂 xx

    1. I do feel much better! As others have said, exercise does help remove the negative energy – I will definitely be trying it ?

  8. Hi Pawlean!! Been a while since I visited. I love this series you’re doing because I love science! haha never knew about all these areas that get affected by rejection.

    I have been rejected countless times ouch (oh on the topic of love!) and also have given them. It’s not easy but it is part of life. I’d like to think of it as God’s way of saying “You deserve better. I know what’s right for you.” and this helps me a lot.

    1. It has been a long time, I couldn’t find your URL for a while D: Thanks for the advice! <3

  9. Growing up, it was hard. I got rejected a lot by friends, family, classmates, etc. Because of that, I felt scared and alone. I never really had anyone. I tried so hard to impress people or make new friends. Over the years, I learned not to give up. I’ll listen to music or read quotes to help motivate me. I kept going and didn’t stop. There was no point of giving up. You won’t go anywhere if you do give up. You’ll be stuck there. Someone told me that I shouldn’t have to try so hard to make new friends or find that special person. You should let them come to you.

    How do you get over getting rejected? I just keep going.
    Did you know about this super cool opioid system? No. It was very interesting to learn about it. Thanks for telling us about it.

    1. Music always helps me too! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  10. Very interesting! I never knew this stuff! Its kinda interesting to see how our brains and stuff react to rejection. No matter what, it does always seem to hurt. x_x

    And I love your new layout!

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