What is it like to be rejection proof? To have no fear of ever being turned down? How can being “invulnerable to fear” help me to achieve my goals?
Rejection Proof through Rejection Therapy
We all have heard it. “What would you do if you absolutely knew you could not fail?” But then, up comes failure and punches you in the face. The fact is, there is no world without failure. And what we most often see as failure comes in the form of rejection.
But, what if we could innoculate ourselves against rejection so that we did not perceive it as a failure when it came. Would we fail less? Would rejection therapy show us that our worst fears were ungrounded, or that even with rejection, we could still push on to success?
Jia Jiang decided to overcome his fear of rejection using “exposure therapy“. He committed himself to seek out rejection for 100 days. What he went through became the subject of his very enjoyable book “Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection”.
100 Days of Rejection
Jia was tired of not realizing his goals and dreams due to his fear of rejection. In the book, he describes how this fear constantly hemmed his growth, personally and professionally. A particularly hard rejection sent him into a tailspin of depression and self-doubt. He was unhappy about not just the rejection, but his response to the rejection.
So he set out to harden himself against this fear by purposefully seeking instances where he would be rejected. He would let the refusals wound him, heal over, and scar. And, he thought, he would be tougher for it.
He began with outrageous requests like asking to borrow $100 from a total stranger and getting a free refill on his hamburger. Documenting his rejection ventures on video, he wanted to see that no matter how painful, rejections were not fatal.
What he learned over the course of the 100 days (and 100 attempts to be rejected) was that in many ways, rejection was relative, situational, proceedural, an not nearly as painful as he thought. He also learned that rejection can be the gateway to successes you never considered before.
Becoming Rejection Proof – What’s on the other side of fear
From asking a total stranger to loan him money to making an announcement over an airplane speaker system mid-flight, Jia found that not only was rejection not fatal, it was by no means certain.
Our fear of rejection is hard-wired into our tribal brains. These is scientific research that indicates we can experience the effects of rejection as physical pain. But there is plenty of evidence that immersion therepy, or in this case, rejection therepy, can rewire our instincts and overrule our fight/flight response to being rejected.
You might get a “yes”
On only his third try (and his most challenging request to date), Jia actually met with success. He had requested a custom Krispy Kreme donut arrangement, made to look like the Olympic rings.
When the store manager personally undertook the mission to create the donut rings for him, it surprised him. She went beyond his request (and expectations) to add colors to the donuts. From a request he expected to have refused, he not only got what he asked for but built a collaborative relationship.
This began to be the pattern more often than actually being rejected. When he screwed up the courage to ask, many of his requests weren’t turned down, they were granted.
No’s are not always permanent
In fact, Jia’s own mindset was the biggest factor in getting rejected. He was afraid of what rejection would lead to. In his first YouTube video, Jia tells us his expectations of the request. His fears were really out there (“I wasn’t sure if he’d pull a gun on me or something”). His fear of being rejected and his thoughts about what that would mean was far worse than any real-world consequences could ever be.
The more he asked, the more risks he took. More and more he found people who’s response was not always flat out rejection, but often a desire to fulfill his requests and to even go an extra distance to help him get what he asked for. Even the security guard was willing to help in some way. But Jia did not exploit the chance to let the guard help him. He was in the mindset of expecting rejection.
When he got on the other side of fear Jia found that he could turn more and more “no’s” into “yes”. This included asking a stranger to let him kick a soccer ball around in their backyard. He also learned that rejection often wasn’t about his fear, but the fear others felt in saying yes. So, he learned to make it easier for people to say yes. He found ways to turn rejection into opportunities. He learned that framing the request had a great impact on whether or not people would say yes.
What I have learned from Rejection Proof
Like everybody, I have a typical fear of rejection. I know that mine stems from issues of confidence and self-esteem, and from pride. Often I am afraid to ask because a rejection would somehow be a ding to my personal pride.
Also, I saw rejection, no matter how small, as a judgment against me personally. It made me afraid to risk rejection. As a result, I was also afraid to chase opportunities.
“Rejection Proof” taught me that often the rejection is not about me. It may be situational, or specific to the person I’m asking. I also learned that “no’s” are not necessarily final. Changing the way I ask, the person I ask, or the information I’m offering, can have a positive impact on moving from rejection to being accepted.
My 6 main takeaways from this book were:
Rejection is not fatal.
t doesn’t really hurt like we think it will. We attach worth to acceptance, and we take rejection personally. But that is not the case. Our minds make rejection feel like the end, not the circumstances. It is rarely us that is being rejected, it is only our request.
Rejection is not always final
Often we ask once and move on. But no doesn’t have to last. Consider that there is more than one way to get what we want. Persistence can overcome rejection a lot of the time.
We never know until we take the risk
A lot of times we never even take the risk, afraid of rejection. A “yes” might be at the other end of a question unless we never work up the courage to ask.
Sometimes, No is a bigger motivator than Yes
Arnold Schwartzenegger, Michael Jordan, J.K. Rowling. There are tons of examples of successful people who found great motivation in rejection. It made them question their goals and refine their dreams. It kept them dedicated and it pushed them to succeed in order to overcome the obstacles to their success. If we use rejection as a motivator we can toughen up and not shrink from the hard chores we have to perform in order to become successful.
Rejection opens the door to greater opportunities
If you let it, then rejection will move you to change your message, your audience, or your entire mindset. Rejection can be a positive wake-up call. It makes you rethink your request (or your life’s mission). You grow from. It doesn’t break you.
Your can build a “Rejection Toolbox”
The book offers techniques to use when facing rejection, from considering how to shape the request to encourage a “yes”, to making sure to ask “why” before you say “goodbye”. It has given me ideas on how to build my own toolbox, filled with the right tools for the various rejections I may face.
How being rejection proof is helping me lose weight and get fit
Let’s face it. Nothing rejects our plans and dreams like the scale. No rejection feels as personal as not measuring up.
But it is all a mindset, and my mindset is something I can change.
- I can overcome my body’s resistance to change by offering alternatives and by just being resilient.
- My mind can remain calm, not fearful, as I plan for a rejection ahead of time.
- I craft my requests in a way that prompts a “yes”. This can be a request to others, but also a request to myself. What is the best way to get me to say “yes” to my own propositions?
- I can detach myself from the rejection. 90% of the time rejection is not personal. It is just Step One in a negotiation. When I refuse to make the rejection personal I open up possibilities for collaborating and problem-solving.
- I can exercise the courage to ask or to try. 100% of things never tried never work. 100% of questions never asked never receive an answer. I don’t know the outcome of a question before I ask it. Working on becoming rejection proof shows me that what is often stopping me from an ask is an unfounded fear of a rejection probably doesn’t even exist.
Facing rejection makes you more than rejection proof
Being rejection proof strengthens the mind and the resolve. It also makes me more determined and courageous. Courage, Jia says, is like a muscle. It grows when we exercise it. There are goals that I have as I lose weight and get fit. Choices I have to make. And I’m going to have to face rejection, I know it. I know if because I have already avoided some things out of fear or pride.
Now I believe that rejection is a necessary part of growth. To become a better version of myself it is necessary. Rejection can be a hammer; one that builds a house or one that knocks it down. I get to choose which it is for me.
I’m not yet free of the fear related to rejection. But I am on my way to being rejection proof. So watch out! You won’t be able to turn me down.
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