Recently, a friend of mine shared stories of her adventures in rejection therapy, an annual tradition where, for 30 days straight, she purposely seeks out interactions and situations that will most likely result in her being rejected in some capacity.
My initial reaction to her accounts could only be described as a wondrous cascade of curiosity, amusement and sheer confusion. Learning that rejection therapy is, in fact, a verifiable thing, not merely a product of my friend’s one-woman genius, I was naturally sucked into the vortex that is amateur, Internet research in the topic area.
New to the idea, and dare I say, the practice, of rejection therapy, the purpose of this article is to explain the basics of rejection therapy and why, in my humble opinion, rejection therapy is worthy of your time and energy.
What is rejection therapy?
When typing “rejection therapy” into your search bar, the first link you’ll likely see directs you to Jia Jiang, an entrepreneur, blogger, TED speaker and author.
While rejection therapy started as a card game designed by Canadian entrepreneur, Jason Comely, which Jiang has since acquired, Jiang has formalized rejection therapy into a practice given his research experience in the idea of rejection.
Jiang himself experimented with 100 days of rejection therapy , each rejection scenario meeting the following criteria: 1. Ethical (no lying or marriage-undermining) 2. Legal 3. Doesn’t defy the law of physics.
The goal of the 100 days exercise? Desensitizing himself to the pain of rejection and overcoming his fear. He explains his reasoning in his TED talk.
Ultimately, Jiang’s work has highlighted the following realities:
- The world of rejection is a place where the fears from such snubs are much more destructive than we knew
- However, with insight, rejection can be much less painful than we believed
- And, that people are much kinder than we ever imagined
Is rejection therapy worth practicing?
Jiang believes that by simply asking for what you want, and desensitizing yourself to the pain and shame that rejection often brings, you can open up possibilities where you expect to find dead ends.
Opening up possibilities where you expect to find dead ends? That’s pretty powerful.
Being new to the practice myself, here’s a beginner’s perspective on both what benefits I think rejection therapy can bring and how I plan to approach the practice:
- Getting uncomfortable with the idea of rejection
- Sitting with and embracing the discomfort of actually being rejected
- Discovering ways to be become more resilient after the fact you are told “no”
As a novice that’s eager to dive-in, I’m willing to share my plan to test the waters of rejection therapy:
Start small: you can make the rejection scenarios as light (least risky) or as heavy (most risky) as you want, but starting small is a great way to start
Do it often: frequency matters. It’s a simple philosophy, but I believe the more you practice asking for what you want, no matter how small, the easier it becomes
Apply it broadly: rejection therapy can apply to any aspect of your life – at work, at home, with friends, strangers, and the list goes on. A broad approach will provide a richer experience
Log it: at the risk of sounding anal retentive, I’m all for a healthy amount of documentation. Why? Your memory will fail you and your data points will tell the story better than you may be able to remember on your own. So, make it a point at the end of each day to recall and write down (e.g. phone notes, journal, app, etc.) your rejection scenarios
Reflect: What was the outcome of the scenario? How did you make it feel? How difficult was the ask? How tough was it to accept the rejection?
Give it a shot and let me know what you think! I’d love to hear your thoughts!