How Rejection Actually Hurts


You need a 7 Day BrainwashAs a success coach, I often observe the behaviour of people to determine what drives and motivates them. Almost everyone I meet has a big vision and an inborn desire to be or do something far beyond their current reality. Very few people, however, take the required action to move towards those desires.

There are plenty of reasons why someone does not take action on a big idea but it usually boils down to some sort of fear that ultimately stops them. Okay, so I am not uncovering any groundbreaking information here! We all have fears and most of us know how they have been affecting our results.

What I intend to bring your awareness to is a study conducted by UCLA Psychologists in 2003. This study found that there are two key areas within the human brain that respond to the pain of rejection in the same way they respond to physical pain. (Article Source:

So, in essence, our body interprets a situation where we have been rejected in the same way it would interpret an event where we experienced real and harmful physical pain. Taking it a step further, the mere anticipation of rejection would also create the same sensation of fear as the anticipation of physical harm. That kind of fear is certainly powerful enough to prevent most of us from confronting it.

What I personally find so powerful about this study is that it tells us more about the functionality of our brain and body. When we understand that our brain is sending out a false signal that may be preventing our success, we can now do something about it.

We have the ability to consciously differentiate between a rejection’ scenario and a pain’ scenario. If we are facing a situation where we run the risk of being rejected, and we do not want to let fear of rejection stop us, we can actually pause and take inventory of how we are physically responding. If we notice any fear creeping into our awareness, we can decide to proceed rather than retreat. Even though this may be uncomfortable at first, it can be developed into a tremendous success habit over time.

With this new understanding of rejection pain, it opens up a brand new door for us to examine our lives and more specifically, the goals we dream of achieving. As an entrepreneur, I am always studying sales and the most common success habits of elite sales people. When I first read about this UCLA study, I immediately thought about some of the best sales people whom I have personally encountered. Every one of them, either consciously or unconsciously, separated rejection from pain.

These top sellers would commonly say things like, “they are not rejecting me, they are rejecting the idea of my product or service.” The important thing to note is that they did not just blindly say these words, they truly believed them. And it is the one key ingredient that allowed these sales reps to move from one rejection to another without losing energy or motivation. By virtue of maintaining this attitude, they eventually found plenty of customers who were indeed looking for what they were offering. They overcame rejection pain and it lead to a beautiful result!

I can personally relate to the power of rejection pain when it comes to selling. While I have a number of years of experience in sales, I never actually had to do cold calling or door-to-door sales the ultimate of rejection experiences.

As part of a new project I recently became involved in, I was put in a position where I was forced to make cold calls in order to better understand the buying process for our prospective clients. Despite having logged thousands of hours doing live sales presentations and conference calls, nothing could have prepared me for the total discomfort of picking up the phone and cold calling a new lead. It was simply something I never really had to do in the past and I can admit that I totally hated the feeling.

In my efforts to work on myself to overcome this personal block, I was reminded of the UCLA study being cited in this article. Almost immediately, I felt as though a light had been turned on and I was able to pinpoint the source of my problem. I had been literally processing my fear of phone rejection’ as a threat similar to physical harm thus causing my inability to confidently make cold calls to customers. This was still happening despite the fact that I had 100% faith and confidence in my product. The truth was, I just didn’t like being told no’ or being hung up on.

There are so many occasions in life where we enter a situation we might be rejected. Whether it is asking someone on a date, applying for a new job, sharing our dreams with people, singing in front of an audience or public speaking, we often run the risk of some form of rejection. When we develop ourselves to the point where we treat rejection and pain as two totally different experiences, we can then freely and confidently move in the direction of our ultimate goals and dreams.

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