Overcoming the fear of rejection: Being rejected is not a ‘problem’

An inspiring story and interesting example of how one applies the principles that underpin Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and more specifically, Exposure therapy to overcome the fear of rejection.

After experiencing embarrassment in front of his peers as a 6-year old, Jia Jiang developed a fear of rejection. He described it as his “boogey man”, a curse that has bothered him his whole life because he ran away from it. At 14, he was inspired by Bill Gates and wanted to become an entrepreneur and ‘conquer the world’. However, by 30, Jia reflected that he had not achieved his goals and was aware that his fear of rejection remained a barrier to his progress.

To overcome his fear of rejection, Jia researched online and found a game created by Canadian entrepreneur Jason Comely where one would actively seek out rejection everyday for 30 days and deliberately get rejected. He applied this for 100 days and conducted an experiment from borrowing $100 from strangers to asking a Professor whether he could teach a lecture. He documented his adventures on YouTube and shared his stories and surprising insights online.

In summary, what Jia discovered and learned in his journey is inspiring. Even though his first few experiences were painful, he observed that if he were to stay engaged in the situation rather than ‘run’ and avoid, he eventually became desensitised to the painful feelings of being rebuffed.

Jia also realised that when he got rejected, it may not be for the reasons he was thinking, but rather when he further queried into the reasons for their “no”, he discovered it may be for another reason entirely. For example, he approached a man asked whether he could plant a rose in his garden and was refused. When he asked why, he found out it was because the man was afraid his dog may ruin the flower. However, the man subsequently ‘referred’ him to his neighbour Connie who was fond of roses and she agreed for him to plant a flower in her yard. The belief that Jia held of being rejected for his own attributes rather than for the request in itself is a good example of a thinking error of ‘personalisation’ where one believes that they are responsible for events outside of their own control.

Through conquering his fears, Jia expanded his knowledge and endorsed the belief that “Don’t let rejection define you, rather let your reaction after rejection define you”. He views rejection as the biggest gift in his life and sends a message to his audience to embrace rejection.

View Jia Jiang’s story on Tedtalks: What I Learned from 100 Days of Rejection

View Jia Jiang's website at   rejectiontherapy.com