Your brain’s response to physical and social pain is virtually identical

If you deliberately broke someone’s leg, they wouldn’t forget it and might never forgive you.

Perhaps you know the old schoolyard taunt: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”

The truth is that it’s not just sticks and stones that can do lasting damage. Calling someone names won’t break any bones, but according to neuroscientists at UCLA, social pain activates some of the identical regions in the brain that are lit up when you experience physical pain.

Being rejected or disrespected literally hurts. There’s a good evolutionary reason for this. Our ancient ancestors often depended on social connections for their very survival. In some case, losing such links could actually put their lives at risk.

If you want to avoid stirring up longstanding animosity, avoid inflicting social pain. Don’t shun people, thoughtlessly leave them out of group activities, fail to thank them for gifts or favors, or insult them in public. Doing so can create wounds that may never heal.