A common theme in most of our lives is a fear of rejection.
The fear of looking foolish and receiving negative judgments. The fear that getting a “no” means we weren’t good enough, or someone didn’t like us or something about us. We’re concerned about what people will think of us.
I’ve experienced these fears nearly every day of my life, and because of that, I’ve often hid from rejection. I’ve hid by: not applying for jobs I was qualified for, not asking friends to get dinner after work, not going to networking events, not being honest with my partner about my feelings, and not asking for help from my peers. By hiding from rejection, I’ve stunted my personal and professional growth, and I’ve cut myself off from building relationships.
A life coach gave me an assignment that forever changed the way I view rejection.
Inspired by the TED Talk, “100 Days of Rejection” by Jia Jiang, this coach challenged me to do rejection therapy for seven days. The goal was to actively pursue being rejected. The plan was to go up to strangers and make ridiculous requests with the intent to receive a “no.” By doing this, I would be facing my fear of rejection.
When she first asked me to do this, I hesitantly replied, “Okay…” and then immediately went into panic mode. Anxiety kept me up that night. I tried to think of ways I could half-ass this challenge. I could approach people I knew instead of strangers, or tell her I did the assignment when I really didn’t.
After trying to think of clever ways to get out if it, I ultimately acknowledged that I’d only be cheating myself. If I really wanted to get rid of this fear, I had to face it head on.
I decided to record all of my experiences for accountability and share them every day for seven days on social media.
Day one: I asked a stranger on the street for $20.
Day two: I asked my hairdresser if I could cut my own hair.
Day three: I asked Chipotle for free guacamole.
Day four: I asked for a warehouse tour at Target.
Day five: I asked to have Happy Birthday sung to me at a restaurant, even though it wasn’t my birthday.
Day six: I asked a stranger to take a picture with me.
Day seven: I asked someone at the gym to race me.
Every day of this challenge, I experienced anxiety. I didn’t want to go through with it, and I was overly concerned about what others thought of me. But when I took action, despite my fears, I realized that it wasn’t the big deal as I was making it out to be. In fact, many of the people I made requests to actually wanted to help and said yes. What I thought were ridiculous requests really weren’t.
Being rejected for a week will change your life. You will not only gain new information about yourself and your capabilities, but you will also learn how to better handle rejection in the future. You will learn:
1. Not to personalize or internalize the rejection. You’ll learn that a rejected request is not a rejection of you as a person.
2. That it’s okay to experience fear, as long as you don’t let it stop you from taking action. The anxious feelings will pass.
3. It’s easier to get a yes than you may think. Sometimes it just takes courage to make the request.
4. Rejection means you’re trying. It means you’re putting yourself out there. It means you’re living your life and not playing safe.
When we can shift our mindset to start seeing rejection as a positive thing, our lives are forever changed, and we can step into our highest potential.
Author: Christina Ennabe
Image: Author’s Own; Omar Lopez/Unsplash
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Copy & Social Editor: Khara-Jade Warren