The desire to belong is a potent force. Evolution has programmed us to seek the company of others for the simple reason that there is safety in numbers. As early as childhood, we discover that it is more fun to play with playmates. As adolescents, our identity formation is inextricably tied to our association with peer groups. Interaction with peers hones our ability to socialize, which prepares us in the establishment of an intimate and stable relationship.
However, not all attempts to belong have favorable results. Some lead to rejection. In fact, ostracism can occur in relation to one’s peers. And in romantic relationships, this may also happen, whether it is the result of a break up, or it is during courtship where the rejection occurs.
Rejection actually registers the same brain scan as physical pain. This is how agonizing it can be. When we experience this rejection, we sometimes try to compensate for it by hastily seeking acceptance somewhere else, just so we may erase the pain immediately. But this is merely an emotion-driven tendency. The desire to remove this feeling of painful rejection may force us to join groups regardless of what their nature is. Or we may enter into meaningless romantic involvements, often to our detriment.
Pain is the inevitable consequence of rejection. Denying the pain or repressing it may lead us to commit unforeseen acts that we may regret later on. There is no other way to deal with it than to face the pain and experience it fully. By doing this, we are allowing our emotions to run their natural course. And once they have subsided, our judgment will no longer be overpowered by emotions. Undergoing this process will help us avoid making irrational decisions.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Frederick Fabella, PhD is a graduate and undergraduate professor in the Philippines. He is an editorial board member of the IRP international research journal and a Fellow of the Royal Institution Singapore. He is also an author of various books and studies. His blog can be found at Meanings and Perceptions.