The pain of rejection can include real physical pain.

How to Get Over Family Rejection & Jealousy

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Jealousy can occur when you feel threatened in a relationship or experience insecurity. It can also occur when you feel rejected by others. Rejection can cause physical pain, lasting longer and feeling more severe when rejection is chronic, such as that received from family, according to Kirsten Weir's American Psychological Association article “The Pain of Social Rejection.” Recovery takes time and can be lessened by finding inclusion elsewhere or distancing yourself from those rejecting you.

1. Assess Your Identity

Family labels can extend long after you become an adult, according to the article “Sibling Rivalry: Adult Siblings” by research associate Jeremy Boyle on Brigham Young University's site Forever Families. Jealousy is easily caused by some labels, such as smart, pretty, exceptional or wonder child. Self-esteem can be harmed, on the other hand, by labels such as clown, black sheep, rebellious or wild child. As you mature and change, those labels might not fit anymore, but the jealousy or rejection can remain. Assess your current identity in relation to your childhood label. Your achievements might surpass the family scholar's today, or family responsibilities could have settled your previous negative label. Change your expectations and self-talk to mirror the present you. Quit measuring yourself against your siblings or parents and stand on your own achievements.

2. Divorce the Opinions of Others

People can make judgments about you that say more about them than about you, such as revealing their jealousies or hang-ups, according to Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D., one of the founders of philosophical counseling, in the "Psychology Today" article “Siblings and Self-Esteem." If your family is critical and rejecting, stop trying to gain their approval and let them come to you if they want to build a healthy relationship later. Take advice from psychotherapist Ann Becker-Schutte, Ph.D., and decide that -- as the title of her blog post asserts -- "Your Opinion of Me is None of My Business." Teach your children to be less judgmental and more accepting of others so you can change the next generation for the better.

3. A Chosen Family

Adopt a chosen family of people who love you for who you are. Support one another and teach your children to connect with those aunts, uncles and grandparents of the heart. Refuse to live or raise your children in a toxic environment where love is conditional or limited or where everyone is judged. Your chosen family can offer opportunities to build holiday and family traditions that create a healthier emotional climate for all concerned.

4. Change the Physical Climate

When your family members push your buttons with jealousy, rejection and other negative childhood patterns, acknowledge the emotional and physical pain. Counteract the pain with positive physical sensations by exercising, sharing appropriate affection and engaging in enjoyable activities, suggests C. Nathan DeWall, Ph.D., a psychologist studying social exclusion and acceptance, as quoted in “The Pain of Social Rejection.” You don't have to remain in pain.

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