HomeRejection Sensitive DysphoriaHow to Break the Cycle of Masking Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria

    How to Break the Cycle of Masking Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria


    The daily struggle of dealing with Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD) can be overwhelming, but it’s crucial to understand that masking Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria and the feelings isn’t the solution.

    In fact, hiding your RSD can lead to more harm than good.

    This blog post will delve into the steps necessary to stop the cycle of masking your RSD, empowering you to face it head-on and regain control over your emotional well-being. You’ll learn practical strategies to manage and reduce the impact of RSD, enabling you to live a more fulfilling and balanced life.

    Rejection sensitivity dysphoria (RSD) is a condition that is often associated with ADHD. It is characterized by intense emotional pain and a heightened sensitivity to perceived rejection or criticism. Those who experience RSD often go to great lengths to avoid situations that may trigger these feelings, including masking.

    What is Masking?

    Masking refers to the act of covering up or hiding one’s true emotions, thoughts, or behaviours in order to fit in or avoid negative consequences. For those with RSD, masking may involve hiding their sensitivity to rejection or criticism in order to appear more “normal” or avoid being seen as weak.

    Masking can be a way of coping with RSD, but it can also be detrimental in the long run. By hiding their true emotions and reactions, individuals with RSD may miss out on opportunities for meaningful connections and experiences.

    Common Ways of Masking Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria

    There are many different ways that individuals with RSD may mask their condition:

    • Overcompensating by being overly agreeable or accommodating to others
    • Withdrawing or avoiding social situations altogether
    • Using substances to numb emotions
    • Engaging in self-harm or other self-destructive behaviours
    • Keeping busy with work or other activities to avoid time alone with their thoughts

    While these coping mechanisms may provide temporary relief, they can ultimately lead to more pain and isolation in the long run. It’s important for those with RSD to seek treatment and support to learn healthier ways of managing their condition.

    People with RSD often engage in masking, a coping mechanism that involves hiding their symptoms and altering their behaviour to avoid negative reactions from others.

    Negative Impact on Mental Health

    Masking can have a negative impact on mental health by contributing to feelings of shame, anxiety, and depression. When individuals with RSD mask their symptoms, they may feel like they are not being true to themselves or are hiding a part of who they are. This can lead to feelings of self-doubt and isolation, which can exacerbate RSD symptoms.

    Additionally, masking requires a significant amount of emotional energy, which can be draining and lead to burnout. Over time, this can result in a deterioration of mental health, including increased stress and difficulty managing RSD symptoms.

    Negative Impact on Personal and Professional Relationships

    Masking can also have a negative impact on personal and professional relationships. When individuals with RSD mask their symptoms, they may struggle to communicate their needs and emotions effectively. This can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts in relationships.

    In addition, masking can create a sense of inauthenticity in relationships. When individuals are not able to be their true selves, it can be challenging to form genuine connections with others. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and social isolation, which can exacerbate RSD symptoms.

    Overall, masking may provide short-term relief from RSD symptoms, but it can have long-term negative consequences for mental health and relationships. Seeking treatment and support can help individuals manage RSD symptoms in a more sustainable way.

    Another challenge that those mask face is not having the bandwidth to keep masking in front of love ones. This can result in trauma dumping, which essentially means your loved ones don’t experience your best self and instead encounter your exhausted and burnt-out self.

    Breaking the Cycle of Masking

    Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria (RSD) is a painful and difficult condition that can lead to a cycle of masking. Masking involves hiding or suppressing our true feelings and reactions in order to avoid rejection or criticism. Unfortunately, this cycle can become self-perpetuating, making it difficult to break free. Here are some strategies for breaking the cycle of masking and managing RSD:

    Recognising and Accepting Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria

    The first step in breaking the cycle of masking is to recognize and accept that you have RSD. This can be challenging, as many people with RSD have spent years denying or minimizing their symptoms. However, acknowledging the reality of your condition is essential for healing and growth.

    One way to recognize RSD is to pay attention to the physical and emotional reactions you have in response to rejection or criticism. Do you feel intense shame, anxiety, or anger? Do you find yourself ruminating on the rejection for days or weeks? These symptoms may be signs of RSD.

    Create Psychological Safe Spaces

    Creating psychologically safe spaces is another important step in breaking the cycle of masking. A psychological safe space is an environment where you feel accepted, understood, and valued. This can be a physical space, such as a therapist’s office, or an online community where you can connect with others who share your experiences.

    When you have a safe space to express your feelings and experiences, you can begin to break down the walls of the mask and explore your true self. You can also gain support and validation from others who understand what you’re going through.

    Read: psychological safety at work

    Join the Rejection Sensitivity Journal Challenge

    What if you were able to access support, so you can develop strategies to manage overwhelm, stay focused, and embrace self-compassion throughout the process.

    Imagine the satisfaction of looking back on your journey after 30 days and realising how far you’ve come. Rejection sensitivity will no longer hold you back. You’ll have a renewed sense of resilience, self-belief, and the tools to navigate rejection with grace

    If you can spare just 25 minutes a day for the next 30 days, I will teach you how to incorporate effective techniques from journaling into your life. These practices will help you become more resilient, confident, and emotionally regulated.

    Learn more about the rejection sensitivity challenge here

    Journaling and Self-Reflection

    Journaling and self-reflection can be powerful tools for managing rejection sensitivity. Writing down one’s thoughts and feelings provides an outlet for self-expression and can help individuals gain clarity and understanding of their emotions.

    By regularly journaling about their experiences with rejection, individuals can identify patterns, triggers, and underlying beliefs that contribute to their rejection sensitivity. This self-reflection allows individuals to develop a deeper understanding of themselves and their emotional responses, leading to personal growth and the ability to break free from the cycle of masking rejection sensitivity.

    Woman Spreading Both Her Arms (Photo by Lucas Pezeta)

    Incorporating these strategies into everyday life can empower individuals to manage rejection sensitivity and break free from the cycle of masking it. By seeking professional help, practicing mindfulness and meditation, and engaging in journaling and self-reflection, individuals can develop the necessary tools to navigate rejection with resilience and self-acceptance.

    Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, and you are not alone in your journey towards healing and recovery.

    Not grabbed your copy of rejection sensitivity for ADHD yet?

    The Rejection Sensitivity Journal for ADHD

    Buy it from Amazon US

    Setting Boundaries

    In order to create a supportive environment, it is essential to establish and enforce your boundaries. This is crucial when dealing with RSD, as certain situations or interactions may trigger intense emotional responses. Here are some tips for setting boundaries:

    • Self-awareness: Take the time to identify your triggers and recognize when you are feeling overwhelmed or emotionally sensitive. By understanding your own limits, you can communicate them effectively to others.
    • Clear communication: Clearly express your boundaries to your friends, family, and anyone else who plays a significant role in your life. Let them know what is acceptable and what is not. Use assertive communication techniques to ensure your boundaries are respected.
    • Consistency: Be consistent in enforcing your boundaries. It can be challenging at times, but it is important to stand firm and prioritize your emotional well-being. Surround yourself with people who respect and support your boundaries.

    Table Setting for One Person  (Photo by Gül Işık)

    Surrounding Yourself with Positive Influences

    To break the cycle of masking rejection sensitive dysphoria, it is vital to surround yourself with positive influences. This includes people, activities, and environments that uplift and support you. Here’s how you can do that:

    • Choose your company wisely: Surround yourself with people who genuinely care about your well-being and understand your struggles. Seek out friends who validate your experiences and provide a safe space for you to express yourself without fear of judgment.
    • Engage in activities that bring you joy: Find hobbies or activities that bring you happiness and help you relax. Whether it’s painting, writing, or playing a sport, engaging in activities that you enjoy can boost your mood and provide a positive outlet for your emotions.
    • Create a positive environment: Make changes in your immediate surroundings that promote positivity and comfort. This could include decorating your living space with uplifting quotes or surrounding yourself with objects that bring you joy.

    Photo of Woman Looking at the Mirror (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio)

    By educating your friends and family, setting boundaries, and surrounding yourself with positive influences, you can create a supportive environment that helps you break the cycle of masking rejection sensitive dysphoria. Remember, building a support network and taking care of your emotional well-being are crucial steps towards living a fulfilling life despite the challenges posed by RSD.

    Strategies for Managing Rejection Sensitivity

    Rejection sensitivity can be a challenging experience, but there are strategies that can help individuals break free from the cycle of masking it. By incorporating Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), mindfulness and meditation techniques, as well as journaling and self-reflection, individuals can develop effective tools to manage rejection sensitivity.

    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a widely recognized and effective therapeutic approach for managing various mental health conditions, including rejection sensitivity. CBT focuses on identifying and challenging negative thought patterns and replacing them with more positive and realistic ones.

    Through CBT, individuals can explore and reframe their beliefs about rejection, helping them develop a more balanced perspective. This therapy can also provide individuals with coping mechanisms and strategies to manage their emotional responses to rejection, allowing them to break free from the cycle of masking rejection sensitivity.

    Mindfulness and Meditation Techniques

    Mindfulness and meditation techniques have gained significant attention for their ability to reduce stress and enhance emotional well-being. These practices involve focusing one’s attention on the present moment, cultivating self-acceptance and compassion.

    By incorporating mindfulness and meditation into their daily routine, individuals can develop a greater awareness of their emotions and reactions to rejection. This increased self-awareness can help individuals recognize and manage rejection sensitivity more effectively. Regular practice can also enhance emotional resilience and provide a sense of calm and balance in the face of rejection.

    Self-Care Practices for Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria

    Living with rejection sensitive dysphoria (RSD) can be challenging, but there are various self-care practices that can help individuals manage their symptoms and break the cycle of masking rejection sensitive dysphoria. By prioritizing physical health, engaging in relaxation techniques, and participating in activities that bring joy and fulfillment, individuals with RSD can create a supportive environment for themselves. In this section, we will explore these self-care practices in detail.

    Prioritizing Physical Health

    Taking care of your physical health is an essential aspect of managing rejection sensitive dysphoria. Here are some self-care practices to consider:

    1. Regular Exercise: Engaging in physical activity releases endorphins, which are known to boost mood and reduce stress levels. Whether it’s going for a walk, practicing yoga, or participating in a team sport, find an exercise routine that suits your preferences and abilities.
    2. Adequate Sleep: Getting enough restful sleep is crucial for overall well-being. Establish a regular sleep schedule, create a calming bedtime routine, and ensure that your sleep environment is comfortable and conducive to relaxation.
    3. Healthy Diet: Nourishing your body with a balanced diet can positively impact your mental health. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in your meals. Stay hydrated and limit the consumption of processed foods and sugary beverages.

    Engaging in Relaxation Techniques

    Relaxation techniques can help individuals with rejection sensitive dysphoria manage their stress levels and promote a sense of calm. Consider incorporating the following practices into your self-care routine:

    1. Deep Breathing: Deep breathing exercises can help regulate emotions and reduce anxiety. Take slow, deep breaths, focusing on each inhale and exhale. You can do this anywhere, anytime you feel overwhelmed.
    2. Meditation: Practicing meditation allows you to quiet your mind and cultivate mindfulness. Find a quiet space, sit comfortably, and focus on your breath or a calming mantra. Start with just a few minutes each day and gradually increase the duration.
    3. Progressive Muscle Relaxation: This technique involves systematically tensing and relaxing different muscle groups to promote relaxation and relieve physical tension. Start from your toes and work your way up to your head, tensing each muscle group for a few seconds before releasing the tension.

    Engaging in Activities That Bring Joy and Fulfillment

    Participating in activities that bring joy and fulfillment is an important aspect of self-care for individuals with rejection sensitive dysphoria. Here are some ideas to consider:

    1. Creative Outlets: Engage in activities that allow you to express yourself creatively. This could include painting, writing, playing a musical instrument, or even gardening. Explore different outlets to find what resonates with you the most.
    2. Nature Connection: Spending time in nature can have a calming and rejuvenating effect on your mental well-being. Take walks in the park, go hiking, or simply sit outside and enjoy the beauty of your surroundings.
    3. Social Support: Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends and loved ones who understand your experiences. Engage in activities that allow you to connect and socialize, whether it’s joining a club, attending group therapy sessions, or participating in online communities.

    Remember, self-care is a continuous process. It’s important to listen to your needs and make self-care practices a regular part of your routine. By prioritizing physical health, engaging in relaxation techniques, and participating in activities that bring joy and fulfillment, you can effectively manage rejection sensitive dysphoria and live a more fulfilling life.

    Young ethnic woman meditate on empty beach (Photo by James Wheeler)


    In conclusion, Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria (RSD) is a challenging condition that can cause significant distress and interfere with daily life. However, it is possible to break the cycle of masking the symptoms and start to address the underlying issues. A combination of self-awareness and therapy may be necessary for some individuals to manage RSD successfully. By understanding the root cause, reprogramming, and practising healthy coping mechanisms, such as mindfulness, self-compassion, and assertiveness, you can learn to manage RSD and improve your overall well-being.

    Read create your own rejection sensitive blueprint

    One important strategy is to cultivate self-awareness. By recognising the signs and symptoms of RSD, we can develop a better understanding of how it manifests in our own lives. This awareness allows us to take proactive steps to manage and cope with the challenges that arise.

    Another key component in breaking the cycle of RSD is seeking support. Building a strong support network of understanding and empathetic individuals can provide us with the validation and encouragement we need to navigate the ups and downs of living with RSD. Whether it’s through therapy, support groups, or trusted friends and family, having a support system can make a significant difference in our journey towards healing.

    Furthermore, practicing self-care is essential in breaking the cycle of masking RSD. Engaging in activities that promote relaxation, stress reduction, and self-compassion can help us combat the negative emotions and self-doubt that often accompany RSD. Taking care of our physical, mental, and emotional well-being should be a priority in our quest to break free from the cycle.

    Lastly, it is important to remember that breaking the cycle of RSD is a journey, and progress may not happen overnight. It requires patience, perseverance, and a commitment to self-growth. By implementing these strategies and remaining dedicated to our own well-being, we can gradually break free from the grip of RSD and live a more fulfilling and authentic life.

    In conclusion, breaking the cycle of masking rejection sensitive dysphoria is a challenging but worthwhile endeavor. With self-awareness, support, self-care, and a willingness to grow, we can reclaim our lives and thrive despite the challenges that RSD presents.

    Book a 1-on-1
    Strategy Session

    Want Ruth-Ellen's full attention? Nothing compares with a live one on one strategy call!

    Related articles:

    Why Are Some People So Sensitive to Rejection? [Updated 2024]

    Understanding Rejection Sensitivity & Why Are Some People So...

    Uncovering the #1 Mindfulness Blunder: Dodging the Rejection Sensitivity Quicksand

    Are you letting your rejection sensitivity dictate your mindfulness...

    How Self-Validation Can Help You Crush Rejection & Own Your Worth!

    Join me as we delve into the profound impact of self-validation, exploring how cultivating a sense of self-worth can empower individuals to rise above rejection and emerge stronger than ever before. Are you ready to unlock the transformative potential of self-acceptance in your journey towards overcoming rejection?

    Latest Courses/Tools:

    Alexithymia + Interoception Tools

    By investing in my alexithymia and interoception tools, you are taking a significant step towards enhancing emotional literacy, body awareness, and interpersonal connections. These resources are invaluable for anyone looking to improve their emotional well-being and build stronger, healthier relationships.