Rejection Sensitivity: Causes and How to Cope, for Teenagers


One of the greatest problems, teenagers today face is the after-effects of rejection.

We’ve all gone through it, haven’t we? Whether it’s from your friends or parent, the roots of rejection dig deep. Most of us have the ability to handle the pain, but what about those who don’t? How do they go through it? Do they know how to address the pain? Read on if you need ways to cope with your bad days!

Rejection is defined as the act of dismissing or refusing an idea, a person, an object, etc. Many people have different views when it comes to rejection, some take it well, while others don’t. Social rejection happens when an individual is neglected or excluded from a relationship or interaction. This rejection can be due to the interpersonal relationship between two or more parties which also usually happens to be a negatively contributing factor.

Studies have shown that rejection not only hurts our feelings but also induces loneliness, guilt, jealousy, anxiety, shame, anger, and embarrassment. This can cause an individual to develop rejection sensitivity in which they look for signs that they assume is going to lead to their rejection. They then tend to respond passive-aggressively to certain situations.

The Cause of Sensitivity in Teenagers

1. School Pressure

Schools are places of many experiences; this may include bullying, neglect, abuse, and even worse situations.

2. Peer Pressure

Sometimes, even friends put on masks to disguise their devilish persona. These friends may act like they care but push the individual to do things they do not want to or even neglect them from their friend groups. On the surface, the individual may not understand they are being rejected but subconsciously their mind is aware and this is how the sensitivity develops.

3. Parental Pressure

Kids go to their parents when they have problems no matter how small it is. Some parents may address those problems with the utmost priority while others may just brush it off. This may make the kids feel like they are not important and may even follow through adulthood.

4. Self Pressure

Everyone has expectations for themselves whether good or bad but what if they do not meet it? Individuals tend to push themselves further until they meet their expectations. This is also where the angel and devil on your shoulder come in. One side of you may agree with what you are doing but the other may just cause you to start hating yourself.

Impact on Teenagers

When it comes to being rejected, some may not know how to approach their emotions. These individuals who try to deal with these emotions may do so in a way that ends up hurting them more physically and mentally. This may include social isolation, aggressive behavior, constant anxiety, and more.

1. Social Anxiety

Social anxiety also known as social phobia is a type of disorder that causes individuals to fear social settings. Those who are affected by social anxiety may find themselves having difficulty to talk to, meet, or even place themselves in areas with many people.

2. Hostility

The main cause of hostility is trust issues in which an individual has negative perceptions of what it means to connect with people. This may cause them to act aggressively when approached and thus, cause other people to reject them even more.

3. Following Through to Adulthood

If this issue is not addressed with professional help, this problem may go onto the teenager’s adult life. This makes it hard for them when they go into the working world where they are bound to make connections. Additionally, when they have kids, they might take out their anger on them which leads to increased cases of child abuse and the child ends up living through the same cycle.

4. Abuse of Substance/Alcohol

Substances and alcohol are known to keep people “company” especially in times of stress. People with rejection sensitivity tend to have lesser people by their side. This may cause them to turn to substance or alcohol to make up for the empty feeling which leads to constant abuse of these things.

5. Other Mental Health issues

When emotions are not controlled, they tend to cause an individual to lose a sense of themselves. This may lead to issues such as Borderline Personality Disorder, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, other forms of Anxiety.

Ways to Cope

If you are affected by rejection, you need to know that you are not alone. Everybody gets rejected at some point in their life but some just do not understand what you are going through. In the end, everybody is different.

1. Surround Yourself with People who are Supportive

Negative people tend to give you negative thoughts. Surrounding yourself with supportive people guarantees positivity when you end up in bad moments. Instead of turning you down and brushing away your problems, these people will stick around and stand with you rather than those negative people.

2. Try to analyze situations before acting on them

Those who meet with rejection tend to act rashly at times. This may cause a sudden surge of emotions that they may not know how to confront. Before acting out on these situations take some time to breathe, and analyze your situation. Then, try to plan your next reaction before you act on it. This allows you to take control of your actions and prevent your emotions from controlling you.

3. Do not stop yourself from feeling your emotions

Some people compartmentalize their emotions when a cow-load of pressure is dropped on them. Compartmentalizing has long-term effects such as the inability to take control of your thoughts and emotions. When you stuff all your emotions in a box, they are bound to burst open one day. All boxes have their limits and so does your mental health. It's okay to cry and have the need to let out your feelings and it does not make you weak but rather human.

4. Take some time to breathe

Most people do not understand the importance of taking a few seconds off their day to breathe. When you happen to be conscious of your breathing, it gives you a sense of control which gives you confidence and keeps you boosted. This is a good way for your mind to stay in control and not your emotions.

5. Try talking to someone you trust or go for therapy

Talking to someone may allow you to loosen up. Some do not have the right people to talk to, mainly because these people do not understand your situation but that's okay. Not everybody understands you better than yourself. In this case, try finding someone your age or a person who is in a similar situation as you. It is important to find the right person for a shoulder to cry on because this person is going to make a vast difference in your mental health. If you cannot find a friend or a family member, approach your teachers or counselor; if possible try asking your parents to find you a therapist as they are professionally inclined to help you.

6. Write down your thoughts and feelings to prevent bottling up.

Sometimes you can't find someone to talk to, but if you have a pen and paper, it's good enough. Writing down your feelings and thoughts allows you to keep track of your mental progress. When writing down, you have no need to hold back on what you wan to say compared to having an actual person to talk to. When talking to someone, you tend to hold back to prevent conflict or them looking at you sideways; but a book? It never questions you or holds you back so you can go off as much as you want.

There are times teenagers need to understand that they can't impress everybody. One way or another, along the way someone is bound to have different views about you but at the same time, there are always people who love and support you even if you do not see it. At the end of the day, remember that it is okay to not be okay.

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Lavanyaa Shrii Kumar

Lavanyaa is an aspiring journalist who loves the idea of clouds or stargazing. Though she may be an introvert, she promises that she is a very nice and fun person when you get to know her. During her free time, she prefers to Netflix; in other words free time, also refers to every time she decides to procrastinate.