Estimated reading time: 3 mins
When I was a child, I can remember being rejected by my peers more than once. It felt like the whole world had turned against me, and it was an awful feeling. It has been shown time and time again that social rejection has a hugely detrimental psychological impact on people of all ages. In this article, I will explore the immense psychological impact of social rejection and provide examples of how it can affect individuals in both positive and negative ways.
Social rejection is the experience of not being accepted by one’s peers or close friends, family members, or other important figures in your life. This can be an incredibly painful experience as it triggers deep-seated feelings of loneliness, worthlessness, and even depression. Research shows that social rejection has wide-ranging effects on our mental health; it can lead to increased anxiety levels, decreased self-esteem and confidence, poor academic performance, reduced motivation to achieve goals and dreams, increased risk taking behaviour, substance abuse problems and even suicidal thoughts or actions (Griffin & Bartholomew).
One example of the psychological impacts of social rejection is seen in studies conducted on children who have experienced bullying or peer exclusion at school. In a study conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), researchers found that children who were exposed to prolonged bullying had significantly higher levels of stress hormones than their non-bullied peers (Klomek et al). The findings from this study suggest that prolonged exposure to bullying may cause long-term psychological damage due to elevated stress levels which can lead to issues such as depression and anxiety disorders later in life.
Another example of the psychological effects of social rejection is seen when someone experiences romantic rejections from potential partners or significant others. While everyone experiences some degree of disappointment when they are rejected romantically, for some people this kind of rejection can be particularly devastating as it often leads to feelings such as shame, humiliation and low self-worth (Twenge & Campbell). In extreme cases, those affected may develop unhealthy coping strategies such as abusing alcohol or drugs in an attempt to numb their pain; unfortunately this often leads to further deterioration in mental health over time if left unchecked (King et al).
The most serious consequence associated with social rejection is suicide; research suggests that those who are socially isolated are more likely to attempt suicide than those who have strong support networks (Nock et al). According to Nock et al., “social isolation increases vulnerability for suicidal ideation among adolescents because there is less access to help during times when they need emotional support” – which highlights just how damaging prolonged exposure to social exclusion can be for young people especially.
Fortunately there are steps we can take to mitigate the effects that social exclusion has on our mental health; seeking professional help from a counsellor or therapist is highly recommended if you find yourself struggling with these issues as they will be able provide valuable advice tailored specifically around your individual needs (American Psychological Association). Additionally building healthy relationships with peers through activities such as volunteering at local charities or joining sports teams/clubs will also help strengthen your sense of belonging within society – something which many experts believe is key for maintaining good mental health (Yates & Luthar).
In conclusion then it’s clear that social exclusion has far reaching implications for our mental wellbeing; no matter what age we are we should all strive towards creating meaningful connections with others so that we don’t feel alone during difficult times – something which could ultimately save lives down the line!