Rejection Therapy: The game you win if someone tells you “no”

Stuck? Feeling hopeless? Unsure of your next step? For the almost two decades Idealist has been around, we’ve been asking you—our community—to tell us about the obstacles you face when trying to turn your good intentions into action. We’ve compiled a short list of the top-reported obstacles, and now we’re blogging about them one by one.

Today, we present: fear.

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A rejection sampler.

Here’s an idea to get over your fear of rejection: seek it out.

Yeah, I know. Sounds crazy. But the concept is sound: the more you’re rejected, the more it doesn’t seem like such a scary thing.

James Comely’s game, Rejection Therapy, encourages you to try this theory out. It works like this: try everyday to get someone to reject you. You can opt for a 30 Day Challenge, 100 days, or more or less depending on what you want to get out of it.

For $10, you can purchase a set of cards that gives suggestions for situations prime for dismissal. Examples include: friending a complete stranger on Facebook; hitchhiking; calling or visiting a direct competitor.

Or, you can create your own rejection scenarios.

Success is when somebody tells you “no.” If they say “yes,” your ask wasn’t risky enough. Try again.

Of course, playing the game once won’t make you immune to the ravages of rejection. The goal is to increase your confidence by disrupting your comfort zone over time.

Here’s what Comely had to say in an interview on fear.less:

Before playing the game, I thought about it a lot: Why was I not happy? Was I always in my comfort zone? All that introspection and pondering pointed to one thing: Rejection. I knew the fear from rejection was handcuffing my life. It was crippling. But what gave power to this fear? The answer was my comfort zone. That’s what it was. Go home on a weekend and be comfortable. At the most, call up an old friend, go out and get something to eat or whatever. Stay comfortable. Opt for the comfort factor.

Opportunities presented themselves but I chose the comfortable, boring route. But as I began to look for rejection, I discovered a unique thing about my comfort zone: It was elastic. The more I pushed past the boundaries, the more it would expand.

Now will you go share this blog post with one million people? I sure hope you won’t.

Have you ever been rejected and had it not be a big deal?

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Idea List: A cathedral made of waste, sleepy drivers, and more

Need some inspiration for that project of yours, or just interested in new ideas from around the world?

Here are some fresh ones I’ve found while browsing the web lately:


Refashioned cathedral took 50 years to build. Photo from Dubas (Flickr/Creative Commons)

  • Elderly man in Madrid builds cathedral from salvaged materials (Inhabitat)
  • Horses provide therapy to the disabled and veterans on Long Island (Idea Mensch)
  • Women take baby strollers to the streets in 19 cities across Sweden to celebrate International Women’s Day and raise awareness for global maternal mortality (Matador)
  • Prettier fruit bowls prompt schoolchildren in a NYC lunchroom to eat healthier (Big Think)
  • The Anti Sleep Pilot mobile app in Denmark alerts drivers when they are getting drowsy (Springwise)

Did you read, see, or experience something lately that you think deserves more attention and maybe a copycat or two? Leave a comment below so we can add it to the next idea list!

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