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First, rejection addiction is a term I coined. I do not believe it is a medical diagnosis or a condition. I am an emotional addict. I feed off emotions. What I mean is, I am immensely affected by emotions – both my own and others – positively and negatively. I identify myself as an empath and, ADHD augments this already heightened ability to understand and feel another person’s mental and emotional state. If it was only understanding and feeling what that person is going through, I would be fine with the extra emotional ‘baggage’, for lack of a better term. However, it goes much much deeper than that for me. I apprehend the other person’s emotions. I physically and mentally feel what they are going through. Now I am not a psychic or a spiritual phenomenon or any other term that you might be thinking – I just feel that person’s energy, intensely, – especially pain. Can’t explain it but, it’s both a blessing and a curse. Ok, I’m finished with my empath tangent. Rejection to me? Ideally, rejection is something that validates my negative perspectives. Thus, the rejection addiction is born. Never said it was a good trait.
Onto the addiction aspect of rejection. Addiction is a chronic condition. Like any addictive disorder, general symptoms include, but are not limited to, impaired control, obsessive and compulsive behaviors, executive function deficits (impulsivity, risk-taking). (Executive function: Impulsivity, frontal lobes and risk for addiction, Crews and Boettiger, 2009). Take a look at this definition of addiction from Psychology Today: A condition in which a person engages in the use of a substance or in a behavior for which the rewarding effects provide a compelling incentive to repeatedly pursue the behavior despite detrimental consequences. The authors/bloggers continue, there is scientific evidence that the addictive behaviors share key neurobiological features—they intensely involve brain pathways of reward and reinforcement, affecting motivation, which involve the neurotransmitter dopamine. And, in keeping with other highly motivated states, they lead to the pruning of synapses in the prefrontal cortex, home of the brain’s highest functions. (Psychology Today, Authors/Bloggers, Medical Experts, website last checked July 4, 2019). Re-read the previous paragraph. Do you see what I mean? Addictive disorders are relative. They carry the general symptoms I stated above. Reminder – these are my thoughts, my perceptions. I am not a medical doctor nor an expert in any psychological discourse. I am just sharing my thoughts.
So, some might say I am emotionally sensitive. My retort would be, OF COURSE I AM! Rejection elicits so much emotional pain for me at times that it affects my thinking. I become addicted to rejection because it reinforces negative ways, and essentially validates my hostility and pessimism. Because rejection is something I have been dealing with since childhood, I become flooded with anger and sadness. I feel abandoned, unworthy, inadequate, you name it. Hence, a cardinal reason for why my empathy is so pronounced. Since I use rejection as a way to validate my negative self-views, negative perspectives, and use of negative misattribution, I justifiably call this behavior, rejection addiction. But while rejection has eroded my self-esteem and self-confidence in the past, learning and understanding my ADHD has helped me curtail the after-effects of rejection. I’ve learned to better manage my emotions because of what I’ve learned (and continue to learn) about MY ADHD. What I have learned about my specific criteria, symptoms, traits, features, and patterns. As a result, I have taught myself how to cope. I have altered my thought-process to be more positive, less arbitrary, and much less negative! I have practiced behavior modification. And for these reasons, for these dialectics, I am able to prevent self-sabotage so much more than before I understood my ADHD, before I understood myself.
What effect does rejection have on you? Do you think you’re addicted to rejection? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below or send me an e-mail to theADHDlawyer@gmail.com