The entire month of February, we discussed rejection trauma and how it affects people who grew up in abusive homes. We have discussed what rejection trauma is, how rejection trauma affects interpersonal relationships, and the freeze/fawn response.

This article will focus on treatment for rejection trauma, and give you a better understanding of its neurology and how you can heal.


Rejection often refers to the feelings of grief, sadness, or shame that someone feels when others do not accept them, including parents or others in their lives. Sometimes children feel rejected by their peers and suffer tremendously from anxiety and self-loathing.

Rejection has a place in our lives and is believed to come from the need in ancient times to belong to a tribe or group. Not belonging or being rejected meant death. Many tribes or groups used ostracism to control the behaviors of their members. So, humanity developed the need and desire to be accepted, and when we face rejection, we are mortified.

Unfortunately, for many, being rejected leads to being afraid of further rejection, bringing problematic behavior to avoid it. People may isolate themselves or hold back from making connections with others because they are afraid of being rejected. Fear of rejection leads to loneliness and depression as we respond subconsciously to our need to be accepted into a group.

Fear of rejection often occurs with many mental health conditions, including social anxiety, borderline personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, to name a few.

The Neurology of Rejection Trauma

Thanks to the amygdala, memories of rejection are stored via a complex process that occurs in the brain, which attaches meaning to experiences. If parents or peers reject a child, the pain of rejection gets reinforced to gain importance and meaning. The rejection turns into our predominant emotional story.

Research has shown that emotional pain is worse and results in more brain activity than remembering physical pain. For instance, it hurts much more to remember an event where your parent rejected you than to remember when you broke your leg. The leg healed up quickly and left few emotional scars, yet the memory of the rejection from your parent lasts for decades and sometimes for a lifetime.

Still, other research that used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) discovered that the same part of the brain activated when you experience physical pain is also activated when you experience emotional pain. So, from the start, emotional pain like traumatic rejection is not only experienced but reexperienced the same way as if you had just broken your leg again.

The amygdala is triggered by an emotional response to the rejection you are experiencing and burns brightly throughout your life. You might experience hypervigilance where every person you meet causes alarm bells to go off, so you avoid people and thus relationships. There are many side effects to rejection trauma that change lives for the worse.

Six Methods Used to Overcome Rejection Trauma

Rejection trauma leaves us feeling like we do not belong anywhere, and we tend to behave in ways that cause us to be rejected by those we know in the present. Living with rejection trauma may seem to be impossible to overcome, yet there are at least six methods that can help you to do just that.

Acknowledge and Recognize the Trauma. Those who have experienced childhood trauma spend many years minimizing what happened to them by pretending it didn’t happen. This leads to feelings of guilt and self-blame.

To heal, we must acknowledge that a traumatic rejection happened to us in childhood and that we were in no way responsible for it.

Learn to Let Go and to Accept What Happened. Accepting what happened to you does not mean you agree with it or that it isn’t essential. Acceptance means deciding to deal with it and not allow your life to be ruled by your past any longer.

To accomplish acceptance, one must first go through letting go. Letting go isn’t a magical procedure. Instead, it means no longer allowing the terrible memories of the past to rob us of living our best life today.

Ending Self-Criticism. One of the most common behaviors of people suffering from rejection trauma is they become self-critical. They engage in behaviors such as listing their faults, focusing on their shortcomings, and punishing themselves constantly. When these folks are met with rejection at work or in love, they employ a harsh and abusive inner dialogue, convincing themselves that they deserve rejection.

Ending self-abuse isn’t easy but to do so they must list their good qualities and remind themselves constantly that they are worthwhile and do not deserve rejection.

Make Connections with Those Who Appreciate You. Living in rejection destabilizes our need to belong, causing an unsettledness and restlessness after social or intimate rejection.

We need to form new connections and form a core group to treat rejection. These people need not be related, but a family of choice made up of people who appreciate and care for us. We must have emotional support from a core group to remind ourselves we are loved, wanted, and valued.

Restore Self-Worth. Using self-affirming exercises, such as reciting positive affirmations, is a great way to restore motivation, confidence, and self-esteem after a rejection. In using self-affirmations, we remind ourselves of our skills and abilities, plus our value.

First, make a list of your good qualities and then write a brief few sentences about one of them. By writing a short essay about one of our strengths, we will remind ourselves how valuable we are to revive our self-esteem.

Take Stock of Potential Changes. Sometimes we need to reassess our strategy if we have experienced rejection. We need to explore our behaviors to see if there is indeed a reason for the rejection we have experienced, such as not caring for our appearance.

When we find these shortcomings, we can begin changing what we can (not the things we cannot change) and focus on trying again. Sometimes we bring on the rejection of others because we are too busy expecting rejection. We may isolate ourselves away from the very people who would love to form a lasting relationship with us.

Ending Our Time Together

We’ve all felt the sting of rejection and the feelings of grief, sadness, and shame that accompany it. This rejection sometimes occurs in childhood, as we are rejected by our parents, siblings, or other children.

Research has concluded that the same part of the brain activated when we experience physical pain is also turned on by emotional pain. Indeed, the emotional pain of rejection has been shown, through further research, to be remembered more than physical pain.

Today, you have learned six methods to help yourself heal from rejection trauma. I hope you will find the method that works for you.

I hope you have enjoyed this series on rejection trauma and have learned the information you need to overcome it. Although it has ruined many lives, this type of rejection need not affect you forever. It takes some time, self-patience, and, yes, self-love to overcome rejection trauma.

“Life is too short to waste any amount of time on wondering what other people think about you. In the first place, if they had better things going on in their lives, they wouldn’t have the time to sit around and talk about you. What’s important to me is not others’ opinions of me, but what’s important to me is my opinion of myself.”– C. Joybell C.


Help To find a Provider

If you are a survivor or someone who loves a survivor and cannot find a therapist who treats complex post-traumatic stress disorder, don’t hesitate to contact the CPTSD Foundation. We have a staff of volunteers who have been compiling a list of providers who treat CPTSD. They would be happy to give you more ideas about where to look for and find a therapist to help you. Go to the contact us page and send us a note stating you need help, and our staff will respond quickly to your request. Go to


Are you a therapist who treats CPTSD? Please consider dropping us a line to add you to our growing list of providers. You would get aid in finding clients, and you would help someone find the peace they deserve. Go to the contact us page and send us a note, and our staff will respond quickly.


CPTSD Foundation Awareness Wristbands


Official CPTSD Foundation wristbands to show the world you support awareness, research, and healing from complex trauma.

The official CPTSD Foundation wristbands were designed by our Executive Director, Athena Moberg, with the idea that promoting healing and awareness benefits all survivors. We hope you’ll consider purchasing one for yourself and perhaps one for a family member, friend, or other safe people who could help raise awareness for complex trauma research and healing.

Each purchase of $12 helps fund our scholarship program, which provides access to our programs and resources to survivors in need.


Weekly Creative Group

Do you like to color, paint, sew, arts & crafts? How about drawing, model building, or maybe cross stitch? Whatever creative activity you prefer, come join us in the Weekly Creative Group. Learn more at




The Healing Book Club

Today, CPTSD Foundation would like to invite you to our healing book club. Led by Sabra Cain, the healing book club is only $10 per month. The fee goes towards scholarships for those who cannot afford access to materials offered by CPTSD Foundation.

Should you decide to join the Healing Book Club, please purchase your books through our Amazon link to help us help you.


All Our Services


As always, if you or a loved one live in the despair and isolation that comes with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, please come to us for help. CPTSD Foundation offers a wide range of services, including:

All our services are reasonably priced, and some are even free. So, to gain more insight into how complex post-traumatic stress disorder is altering your life and how you can overcome it, sign-up; we will be glad to help you. If you cannot afford to pay, go to to apply for aid. We only wish to serve you.

Make sure to visit us and sign up for our weekly newsletter to help keep you informed on treatment options and much more for complex post-traumatic stress disorder.

Rejection Trauma

Rejection Trauma and Interpersonal Relationships

Rejection Trauma and the Freeze/Fawn Response


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