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Falling for a powerful seduction - Rejection, social acceptance and politics

BY: Eugenia Ntekor

Call it Post Election Stress Disorder or Post Election Anxiety Disorder, losing an election is no child’s play. It comes with lots of deep emotional stressors and turmoil only those who have experienced can explain.

With elections over and lots of opinions flying backwards and forwards in air, kudos to both winners and losers of this year’s election. The journey of a politician in Ghana seems rather tough, rough and whether you win or lose, your courage is worth acknowledging.

Does winning or losing an election really matter in politics?

Let’s face it, we have all suffered some form of rejection on our lives, be it in relationships, friendships, work, within families, school and so on. Anyone who has lived through this life long enough, knows the anxiety and pain of being picked last.

I believe we can all identify with that hurtful feeling of being excluded from a party with friends we trusted and hanged out with, failing to land that job we so wanted or being dumped in a relationship.

As humans we all have a fundamental need to belong. Rejection is a miserable feeling and people have to realise how much social acceptance spreads to almost everything we do in life.

Researchers have found that being on the receiving end of a social snub causes a cascade of emotional and cognitive consequences.

It increases anger, anxiety, depression, jealousy and could contribute to aggression, violence and poor impulse control. Other researchers who have dug deep into the roots of rejection have found surprising evidence that the pain of being rejected is not different from the pain of physical injury.

It also has serious implications for people’s poor mental state and can influence our emotions rather negatively. People who feel rejected feel ostracised.

It is impossible to go through life with everyone being nice to you all the time. Being rejected hurts so much not only because it is disappointing, it can make you feel there is something wrong with you to the point where you begin to doubt your abilities.

So how do we avoid falling for the powerful seduction of rejection? How do we cope when we are not accepted by our electorates?

Don’t personalise the loss

It is easy to take rejection personal but with politics, it has more serious consequences. We seem to have personalized politics so much that a political disagreement with an opposing party has become more of an ego threat that is hurting many relationships.

If you interpret someone voting against you or your candidate as a personal rejection, it will cause you further hurt, sadness and anger. Not worth it!

Don’t blame others

Blaming others for your loss is not a healthy way of dealing with rejection. You are not learning if you blame others. Sometimes, you just need to take a step back from how you are feeling, anger, sadness, feeling of self- worth and think about what you could learn from the experience.

Time heals

Remember time heals so you will have to allow yourself time to process that hurt feeling. Time reduces the intensity of the pain that comes with rejection. Allow time to heal you.

Don’t beat yourself up

Examine what caused the rejection and the role you played in the rejection. Reflect on this and ask what you could have done differently and if you can prevent it from happening again.

Avoid the victim’s mind-set

Stop playing victim. Playing victim could intensify the feeling of anger, hurt and sadness. Shift your perspective. Have a growth mind-set. You are a winner anyway. It’s all about perspective.

Surround yourself with people who will make you feel loved

Don’t listen to the critics and the nay-sayers. They will make you feel worse. Rather, be around people who will show you empathy and compassion. People who will make you feel it was all worth it.

Stop self-destructive thinking

Sometimes, our inner voice can be our number one enemy. Be kind to yourself. Let your inner voice be kind to you. Speak positivity to yourself.

Don’t ruminate

Ruminating can make the hurtful feeling worse. You have no control over an event such as an election. No amount of rumination can help you. It will make you unhappy.

Don’t bear grudges

Bearing grudges is not a mark of greatness. Overlook the wrongs people did to sabotage your political ambitions. Chin up and keep walking. They are beyond your control.

Remember don’t catastrophize your loss. Your victory may come again soon. Remember, other things make you great. Remind yourself that other things make you great on a deeper level. You have more wins than loses.

Better luck in 2024!

Thank you

The writer is a specialist mental health practitioner