Thursday, March 1, 2012

An Affection for Rejection

Whether you got turned down after asking the hot barista at Starbucks for his or her number or your professor rejected your paper thesis and gave you a D, everyone has encountered some form of rejection, and it sucks.  It’s an experience most of us try really hard to avoid, so why are a growing number of people actively seeking it out?  It’s all a part of a game called Rejection Therapy.

Created by Jason Comely, a 40-year-old Canadian web designer, the 30-Day Rejection Therapy Challenge has only one rule: you must be rejected by at least one person every day for 30 days.  It sounds simple enough, but according to Comely, it’s harder than you would think to actually get rejected.  He writes that "as I was playing the game, I realized people were a lot more willing to give me what I asked for than I realized."  It was his own self-imposed limitations that stood in the way of getting what he wanted.  The number of people saying “no” was far less than his expectations.

Comely created the game as a way to help ease his own social anxiety disorder.  He needed a way to build his self-confidence in order to interact with business clients and other strangers, but he was also obsessed with imagining how his life could be better if only he was able to take more chances.  He eventually "realized [that his] comfort zone was like a cage keeping [him] from exploring a lot of opportunities” and was determined to find a way to force himself to develop more self-confidence.  He decided that since rejection seems so scary and potentially devastating, it would be the perfect experience to seek out in small doses.  He started small and gradually gained confidence until he was able to ask others major requests.  He documented his efforts on his blog in order to keep himself honest and not abandon the project. 

Although originally created for personal reasons, Comely’s therapy now helps numerous people who either want to increase their self-confidence or just like a challenge.  It’s creative because it is original in the way it repurposes a negative event into an experience worth searching out.  It can be considered useful because it helps improve people’s self-confidence, especially those who are usually shy or self-conscious.  Some psychologists have even incorporated the game into their patients’ treatments, which is an example of some members of the field embracing the product.

If you want to try the 30-Day Rejection Therapy Challenge, Comely recommends starting out small and working your way up to truly make-or-break requests.  Try out a couple basic questions that tend to result in rejections like asking strangers to take their picture or requesting a discount at stores or restaurants.  You never know what the answer will be until you ask!


  1. Whether it's being used to treat a social phobia or just to expand one's boundaries I think this is an excellent, not to mention interesting, idea. Any person could benefit from some practice asking for things and being rejected. After all, both are good skills to have in life, as one will inevitably have to ask for many things and be rejected many times. As for the creativity of the game, I don't pretend to be an expert in psychological treatments, but it does SOUND like something that might have been assigned by a psychologist even before Comely started. However, the aspect of doing it as a game is certainly novel, as well as making it more appealing and offering a little extra motivation. And there is no doubt a problem to be solved by it. I love this idea and think that I might try it myself.

  2. I definitely think this is a creative concept, and while I like that it is being marketed as a game (as it 1) makes it more "fun" for users and 2) may allow people to be less apprehensive about trying it if they don't think it is something that a "shrink" would recommend), I think this could certainly be considered a type of therapy that should be recognized in the field of psychotherapy. I think this is an excellent idea to solve an all too real problem of low or no self-confidence/self-esteem in individuals. As an education major, I frequently come across the mantra "hurt kids hurt kids" as a way to shed (a very general) light on the origins of school bullying. Often bullies don't feel good about themselves and they take their insecurities out on other students. Could Comely's creative game be used as a way to help "rehabilitate" the young bullies in America's school systems? Could it jointly be used to counsel those students that are the victims of school bullies and are extremely likely to lose some of their own self-esteem in the process, as well? While I agree that this game would be great for those who lack self-confidence, I think it could also be used for fun by people to challenge themselves or their friends (by competing to see who can get rejected the least amount of times, etc.)

    I loved that this post tied together the idea of Creativity as well as some of the general psychology concepts that we have been exploring in this class.

  3. I think this is very interesting, and certainly creative because it almost seems counter-intutitive at first, but really once you think about it a little deeper it makes sense. It acts as almost a de-sensitizer, to a fear of being rejected. The more you get used to it the less afraid you are. I think it is really inspirational that this started out as something that was only meant to help him with his shyness, but ended up helping so many other people. It shows that one person or simple idea can really make a difference in the lives of many other people. It is a great example of out-of-the-box thinking, I know that I never would have thought that engaging in something that frightened me would be what would help make me stop being afraid of that same thing. I feel one would have to be careful as truly promoting this as a therapy that would help everyone or that would be healthy for everyone to try, because some people may be to fragile to be able to handle rejection on a daily basis and may potentially backfire. I think it takes a certain kind of person for this to be effective, but it is certainly a creative thought that showed be explored more.


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