Right, I’m back and ready for my next self-help challenge: Rejection Therapy. Now I’m bending the rules on this one a bit because it’s not actually a self-help book, more of a self-help game, but I’ve wanted to do it ever since I read about it a few years ago. Actually, I take that back, I haven’t actually wanted to do it because it sounds horrible but I know that it would be a very good thing for me to do. So here I am.
Rejection therapy is the brainchild of a Canadian man called Jason Comely (http://rejectiontherapy.com). The aim of the game is simple: YOU MUST GET REJECTED ONCE A DAY BY ANOTHER HUMAN BEING. Not try to get rejected or attempt to get rejected but actually get rejected.
Being rejected can come in many forms: You could ask someone out and they say no (puke, puke, puke), you could ask for a discount in a shop and they say no (cringe, cringe, cringe) or you could ask for a pay-rise/promotion at work and have it turned down (yikes)…
Putting yourself in a situation where you expect to get rejected but don’t, doesn’t count, you have to keep going until you get rejected.
So why would you do this to yourself?
Well, the idea behind it is that many of us live our lives in fear of rejection. We don’t go for half the things we want because we are scared people will say no and the pain or discomfort will be unbearable. This fear of rejection holds us back and can rule our lives, meaning we are not living to half our potential.
The idea behind this game is that by actively seeking rejection we get desensitised to it, we realise that while uncomfortable, it absolutely does not kill us and it might not be as bad as we think.
And secondly, according to Comely, the game shows that it’s much harder to get rejected than we think it is.
Comely created this game to overcome his crippling fear of social rejection. He was so scared of being rejected by people that just asking for directions on street corner break out in a sweat and spent most of his life working from home on his own. While doing this challenge he found that when he went up to people and asked if he could join their table they said yes, and asked out members of the opposite sex, they said yes… in his business life he phoned up people he admired and they agreed to meet him too.
After a year, he concluded it was harder to be rejected than he expected and that if he hadn’t played the game he would have missed out on countless opportunities to meet new people and expand his life.
I realised in my Feel the Fear And Do It Anyway month that most of my fears revolve around fears of rejection and failure (which are closely linked) – particularly with the opposite sex. I will do anything to avoid being rejected by men, which of course means that I miss out on a lot of opportunities.
I have also been held back with fear of rejection in my professional life. As a freelance writer I have not approached new publications for fear they’ll say no. The few times I have tried and I have been rejected it’s hurt a lot. I’ve taken it as confirmation of my fears that I’m not good enough.
This is the thing with rejection. It can hurt more than the event ever justifies because it brings back all past rejections and confirms all our worst thoughts about ourselves.
We are also hardwired to fear it, even though rationally we might know it’s stupid. That’s because historically our chances of survival were dramatically increased if we stayed with the group, which is why being shunned in any way – even snubbed at a party – can feel fatal.
I can still remember with brutal clarity the day three girls at school told me I couldn’t play with them. I was eight and I felt like my world had ended. I felt utterly alone.
But the truth is rejection is not a sign that we are not worthy. Many of us know these stories of famous rejections:
Harry Potter got rejected by 12 publishers before the chairman of Bloomsbury brought home the Potter manuscript for his daughter Alice to read.
Almost every record label in the country turned down The Beatles; Walt Disney was fired because he lacked imagination – the list goes on.
(For an interesting list of other famous rejections, take a look at this article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2583643/I-enjoyed-listening-Madonna-Ill-pass-Rejection-letters-sent-worlds-successful-people-revealed.html)
I’m sure none of these greats welcomed the rejections but they carried on regardless, which is what we should be doing in the face of rejection.
I once interviewed entrepreneur Sahar Hashemi, the woman who started the Coffee Republic chain (one of the first chains of coffee shops in the UK) and has written several books. She argued being rejected is just part of life and we have to stop fearing it in order to live up to our potential.
Here’s what she said: ‘I believe in notching up the ‘Nos’, which is the idea that in life you need to expect rejection. When we tried to start up Coffee Republic, we were turned down by 19 bank managers. I was told we were a nation of tea drinkers and no one was going to want to spend more than 60p for a cup of coffee or use silly names such as skinny lattes. I also received nine rejections from book publishers before I got a deal. The trick is to see rejection as not a big thing, to get used to it, to expect it. It simply represents one person’s opinion.’
Just as Susan Jeffers says that fear is a sign that you are living a full life and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, so rejection is a sign that you are putting yourself out there, which is the only way for a full and thriving life.
So my challenge for the next 20 days (I’m so behind on this month by month schedule, I’m going to do 20 days rather than 30) is to get rejected once a day. I will be blogging my results every day.
Comely has created a card game with suggestions of ways to get rejected BUT I’D LOVE TO HEAR IDEAS FROM YOU:
Here are some ideas I have for now:
1) Ask for a discount in a shop
2) Ask for a free coffee
3) Ask for a free meal
4) Smile at every person you see for a day
4) Say hello to five strangers on the street
5) Ask a stranger on a date
6) Ask for a strangers number
7) Ask to cut to the front of the queue
8) Ask to join a stranger at a bar/restaurant/cafe
9) Ask for a bill to be reduced
10) Ask for credit card interest/bank charges to be reduced
11) Ask to write for new magazines
12) Ask a bank to give me £100 for no reason
I’m sure you can come up with more exciting and extreme things – so come on, make me sick with fear!
This is a really really cool story of a guy who tried rejection therapy for 100 days:
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