Rejection and affective neediness

Feeling different is a lifelong thing. Feeling rejected is likely to happen throughout life. Feeling alone is something that can happen throughout life. But feeling permanently different, rejected, and alone is a sign that something in your set of beliefs about yourself and the world is not working well.

We live in a social environment and rely heavily on it. In fact, we depend almost absolutely on it. Trying to live outside the community environment is so crazy that we even have a caricature of this person: the hermit.

We depend on the social environment to provide us with several basic elements for life (such as iodine, iron, and potassium), but also for maintaining mental balance. Keeping the mind balanced implies making the brain perceive the balance, the balance of its cognitive processes through social interactions.

Leia aqui em português.

A simple example of this is to realize that you need to study more when you attend class at your friend’s school. Or, realize that you need to speak quietly when you go to a friend’s house. Just as you realize that not all homes are like yours when you find that contrast.

I once heard from a patient that he only realized how crazy his mother was at 11 years old. He went to a friend’s house for a weekend and saw that the friend´s mother did not scream all the time and did not spank her sons belt at random. The contract allowed the perception of domestic malfunction: the mother alcoholism.

This contrast between the self and the world generates the references that will serve as a pattern for the brain to achieve balance, equilibrium. It is as if social life generated a plumb. It is also possible to perceive emotional balance. Literally: “why so much hurry”, “why so much ambition”, “why so many drugs”, “why so afraid”.

But as opposed to isolation, total immersion also generates a loss of balance. The internal references of identity dissolve into social references and the individual ends up being very porous to the environment, instead of living a lot because of himself, he starts living a lot because of others.

So neither 8 nor 80.

Eight or eighty shows that core beliefs are seeking ways to reinforce and possibly ways to keep dysfunctional behaviors in place. Like the drug user who will live on the street so as not to be confronted, not to see the confrontation of the family anymore (contrast). As the aggressive and violent father who, in an attempt to avoid social consequences (contrast) isolates the family from the neighborhood and peers.

The opposite also happens, the “outgoing” mother who drinks every day with her friends to redeem the “lost time” with her friends. The father who has a business meeting every day so he doesn’t have to go home. The teenager who leaves home on Thursday and only returns on Sunday to be with friends

Just as we should not live to eat, nor live without eating. In social life, we need to find the balance between the social environment (I’m not talking about visiting parents on Sunday) and loneliness.

This process is so important for maintaining a life that our cognitive functioning comes with tools for detecting acceptance and host. Literally a “love and protection ‘o’ meter”. Our brain is prepared to detect whether we are accepted in the social environment or not and is programmed to feel reinforced in this environment if it understands that we are accepted. He is programmed to enjoy being loved.

But the perception of acceptance and rejection may vary according to individual development. Also, as with food, where the perception of hunger intensity may vary according to personal history, the perception of the need for approval or disapproval, rejection or acceptance may vary according to personal history.

Finally, some people have a more sensitive or intense perception of hunger or acceptance than others. They are needy, fragile or vulnerable. Therefore, the social environment has a more intense effect on your perceptions and thus on your emotions. These people have an unclear perception of relational reality and therefore distort, misinterpret, or do not clearly recognize the signs of acceptance or rejection (this is the case with the fashionable mental disorder: borderline disorder).

It is as if your acceptance and rejection pointers are not correctly marking what the environment offers and what the need for. In this mismatch of perceptive pointers, two types of people come to mind: the one with rejection syndrome (this is not a diagnosis) and the eternal needy (neither is it a diagnosis).

The one with rejection syndrome is one that, at the slightest sign (real and clear or unreal and subjective) of rejection, feels absolutely rejected and scorned. This person usually collects signals from others who, when accumulated and properly interpreted, result in rejection. I reinforce in this example that, there is no rejection in the environment space. I reinforce that the signals need to be interpreted in a certain characteristic way.

Thus, when a person feels rejected, some stereotyped and dysfunctional behaviors come into play. Often teasing discussions about what people have done, made or said to make ones feels rejected. Small revenge, manipulation, and collusion, mildly paranoid behaviors assume the pattern of interaction.

Finally, the person with rejection syndrome becomes very expensive and emotionally expensive. It ends in an attempt to control the environment so that it does not feel rejected, becoming boring, demanding and tiring.

Well, finally, it actually ends up being generally rejected. The environment, or the people in one´s environment, are living their lives and, by a failure to read the world, the signals are misunderstood, leading to a wrong and persecutory conclusion of rejection. In response to this distorted reading, “the rejection syndrome person” turns her relationships into a ring to resolve conflicts that are only in her head.

The room measurement hand is marking wrong, the environment response turns to be dysfunctional.

The needy person is similar. But the measurement is not environmental, it is internal. As if there was a love storage tank inside the head, and the pointer that marks how much love is inside was malfunctioning. The person has a constant feeling of being unloved, uncaring, unheard or respected.

But again, she looks around and sees others being loved, others receiving attention and receiving care. But this person cannot understand what she receives from the world, nor how much she receives. While she feels needy, she charges it from the environment, looking boring, fussy, and ungrateful. By doing so, the environment loses interest in her. And always being dissatisfied and surrounded by unnecessarily created conflicts.

It’s difficult.

They are not mental illnesses people and do not require more specific care and do not require medication, although this behavior is present in some disorders and thus offers a significant degree of risk to life. Even so, these people suffer and make others suffer. It must be very sad to be feeling constantly unloved, whether in one case or the other. But, it’s even harder for those who can’t get away from such heavy relationships. Fathers, mothers, grandparents, brothers.

In either case, the inaccurate pointer bearers ultimately transform the environment in favor of their beliefs, thus reinforcing the distorted vision they carry. And when belief is questioned in a nontransformative way, the more it is attacked, the more rigid it becomes. Like the belief of a fan in a soccer team.

So each time these people are approached by family or friends they feel more attacked and threatened. Even if there is a break in the dysfunctional behavior after the conversations, the beliefs return to act more intensely after the break. This approach I call the “pressing approach.” It carry the phrase “we can’t take your madness anymore, you have to stop”, ie “we reject you”, “you got us to reinforce your beliefs”.

A transformative approach comes with the phrase “you suffer too much, you would like to help you,” that is, “we accept you, but we worry that you suffer so much.” It can bring about the freedom needed for more effective experimentation of the environment, strengthening bonds with more functional beliefs and, most importantly, extinguishing reserves that can be maintained and will sustain a relapse.

These people commonly seek relief from their suffering by changing their social groups. But, as they already join the new groups with the reservations brought from previous experiences, they are unsuccessful in their attempts at relief and change.

I once asked a patient plagued by a gigantic rejection syndrome to arrange, through a Facebook group, to meet up with a volleyball group she had attended as a teenager.

In this group, she had suffered severe rejection problems, almost a total exclusion from the group. The reunion was very interesting as an experience of her new repertoire of social reading. The group had no records, no one remembered rejecting the patient, but everyone remembered that she was always a closed and reserved person. Everyone remembered that she was a regular player, but she seemed uncomfortable at the get-togethers and interaction moments before and after training and games.

She told me in session things like, “Nobody came to talk to me,” “Nobody called me,” “People didn’t care about me.” And indeed, I need to say something to all my readers, and to myself, nobody knows beforehand how interesting we are. No one cares about us until they know how interesting we are. We need to captivate people, we need to show how interesting we are to them.

So the social environment is not responsible for discovering how interesting, dear, intelligent, captivating, mathematical, lovely we are. The social environment, beforehand, only sees our business card through a sea of false or true preconceptions. It is the role of each one to captivate this social environment, to make it be attracted to this something beyond the pretty face we think we are.

Breaking this business card barrier and showing the world who you really take some courage. Courage is synonymous with vulnerability. Subject to another post. But, I think you understood the message.

Raul de Freitas Buchi

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