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What is Social Pain?

What is Social Pain?

Recently I attended a presentation by UCLA psychology professor Matt Lieberman who enlightened his audience with his new findings on social pain. Social pain is pain experienced when we are bullied,  belittled, or rejected by family, friends or even work team members. This pain also has an impact on our performance in the same way that our performance would be hampered if we had a broken leg. Our brain is compromised.

Many of us know this from experience. How many of you have lost a loved one and walk through a period of grief? When we exit from the “fog”, we often can’t remember what happened to us during that period of time. What decisions did we make? Who did we hold discussions with? What did we commit to?

Just a dad after my dad passed away, my mom woke up from a nap to find that her pot of boiling water had run dry and the stove burner was still on. She swore that she didn’t turn it on and that it was my dad sending her a message. I knew it was because her brain was simply in an “addled state.” And I needed to watch her for a while until she regained her state of normalcy.

We know that when our emotions run high, our intelligence is low. We can’t say it enough because our emotions will control us if we don’t control them.

So think about times when social pain has played a role in your decision making. Think about your team and how this pain may be affecting others on the team. Are the people who are outliers really “not interested” in being part of the group, or are they just saying this to cover up their pain? What can be done to bring them into the group?

Has this happened to you?