What Is Rejection Therapy?
Rejection therapy is a self-help game created by Jason Comely, a freelance IT professional from Cambridge, Ontario, in the 2010s. Per an interview with NPR, Comely’s process was inspired by the Spetsnaz, an elite Russian military unit with an intense training regime. His initial goal was to get rejected once every single day (on the first day, for example, he asked a stranger at the grocery store for a ride across town). From there, rejection therapy became a card game, with each card encouraging players to sit next to a stranger and strike up a conversation, request a lower interest rate from a credit card provider, ask for a discount before purchasing something and so on. (Note that if you, say, ask a stranger for a ride and they say no, that's it. Do not push the issue and continue to ask.) The game and concept has since been bought by entrepreneur Jia Jiang, but the idea remains the same: Challenge yourself to get rejected—often—and eventually get over your fear of failure.
What Does a Licensed Psychologist Think About Rejection Therapy?
Morray tells us that at its core, rejection therapy is a version of exposure therapy, a common psychological treatment that was developed to help people confront their fears. She points out that it’s completely natural to fear rejection, noting, “Human beings are hard-wired for connection, not rejection—so it is absolutely normal to find rejection at minimum quite uncomfortable, and at worst, traumatic.”
She tells us that “rejection therapy” in the form of a card game, “is a form of self-help that requires an individual to perform tasks that ‘expose’ them to situations that cause anxiety because rejection is possible. Further, she tells us that many of us are already engaging in a natural form of rejection therapy when we make ourselves vulnerable in pursuing a new relationship, job or just making a request that might be turned down. This is doubly true, she explains, for people who are already in psychotherapy. “This is a process that happens in almost every psychotherapy session, whether clients (or even therapists!) realize it or not,” she says. “Therapists are constantly encouraging clients to talk about and explore what they might otherwise avoid, including fear of rejection, and to engage in behaviors other than avoidance in the presence of this kind of anxiety. Over time and with practice, people ‘desensitize’ to their anxiety—they are able to do all kinds of behaviors other than avoiding it, including risking rejection if doing so will be workable in terms of their lives and values.”