Beyond Blue

Your husband ditches you for a girl half his age after 23 years of marriage. The tenth job interview you’ve been on results in another ding letter. Your friends get together for a beer and don’t extend an invitation to you. We all endure rejection, but for us sensitive types, it can be devastating and the stings can last years or even an eternity. “Humans have a fundamental need to belong. Just as we have needs for food and water, we also have needs for positive and lasting relationships,” says C. Nathan DeWall, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Kentucky. Recent research finds that rejection has serious implications not only for a person’s psychological state, but also for a society in general. According to Kirsten Weir of the American Psychological Association, social rejection can influence emotion, cognition, and even physical health. How do you move on and believe in yourself after such heartbreak? Here are a few places to start.

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DefunkThe definition of FUNK: “to shrink from in fright or dread.” Oh yeah, and “a state of severe depression.” I like to think of it as the Diet Coke of depression … some of the same discomfort, symptoms, yuck, but also not the intense wrestling belonging to our friend, depression. When you’re in one, all you know if that you want the hell out. You want things to change … but not sure which ones. Since I am in this place much more often than I want to be, I have come up with my own tools with which I try to dig myself out.

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Ways to Get UnstuckBrain hiccups. We all get a case of them now and then. For some they are fleeting and all a person has to do is to take a deep breath, visualize their departure, and poof! They’re gone. Not so easy for the rest of us. If I counted up the moments I spent trying to escape the broken record of my thoughts, it would be – no kidding – at least a decade of my life. Here are some techniques I’ve been using lately to catch the cycle of nonsense and return to the moment, or, more realistically, at least be able to engage in what I’m doing enough to fool everyone that I’m really paying attention and not running numbers in my head.

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From my therapy notebook:

I now know who to blame for my feelings of panic and anxiety … Amy.

It’s all her fault.

That’s what I call my amygdala, the delinquent cluster of neurons in the limbic system considered by most neurobiologists as the fear center of the human body, like the “welcome center” of college campuses, except that instead of providing glossy brochures, Amy doles out panic attacks.
This almond shaped group of neurons is responsible for making us act like apes, those very hairy creatures from which we’ve evolved … most of us anyway. Whenever you begin to feel the adrenaline—perhaps, for example, when you open your e-mail to find a thousand messages and among them a Facebook friend request from your ex-boyfriend who smashed your heart like a callous hairy ape–envision the almond neurons, the brat Amy, and warm up a bottle of milk for her.
“Ahhh, there you go. Much better.”

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