Fear of Rejection

Rejection Sucks. So much that most people struggle with the fear of rejection. Palms sweating, heart pounding, lump in your throat, fear; of nothing more than the possibility that we’ll be rejected. I personally have avoided asking for help or asking for a sale hundreds of times because of my fear of rejection. Since I never asked, the net result was the same as if I’d been rejected because I still didn’t have the sale, or the appointment or whatever opportunity there was. Do you see how illogical this is? And yet, it is still pervasive in our personal lives and in the business world.

Dealing with rejection and recovering from it is a skill that we learn as children. Some have done well, and some are still crippled with the fear of rejection. So we’re going to something that I’m going to call: Rejection Therapy by Association.

Rejection Therapy

Rejection therapy is a method of purposely seeking rejection in order to gain courage.  Once you have been rejected enough times, and survive, you start to fear it less.  There is even a card game which makes innovative suggestions for ways to be rejected.  The point of this is to take you from an illogical fear and show how you can not only survive it but learn and grow in the midst of rejection.

Jia Jang does us a solid here.  He went through 100 days of rejection and filmed and posted all of them so we can watch as he’s going through this.  I have watched more than half of his 100 days on YouTube.  And I suggest you do the same.

Rejection Therapy by Association

Watching Jia go through such a painful experience, and coming out the other side alive is incredibly therapeutic. So much so, that I watched about 11 videos, and with the moment of inspiration that followed, I sent an email with a daring request that I thought was a long shot.  I did it with the attitude that being rejected wouldn’t matter because rejection isn’t as scary when you’ve seen someone else survive it.  Guess what.  It friggin worked!  The person said YES!

Think about that.  I watched 11 videos of some random dude on YouTube trying to conquer the fear of rejection and ended up benefiting to the point that I conquered my own fear.  I reached out to a practicing therapist to ask if there is any supporting Psychological Theory behind why this worked.  It turns out just hearing a story about someone else conquering a specific fear can develop neural pathways in our minds that help us realize it’s possible to do the same thing. In this specific case, watching Jia’s process of conquering the fear of rejection on video is even more powerful than just hearing about it.

Less Fear of Rejection Means Less Rejection

We are actually able to reduce the likelihood of being rejected if you’re not afraid of rejection.  Watching Jia, his success rate from 52 through 77 is better than 60%.  He got to the point where he was no longer afraid of being rejected and was able to focus on how to ask for crazy favors and actually convince the people he’s asking to say yes.  Removing the fear of rejection actually resulted in fewer rejections.

Remember, Fear and Stress is Actually Preparing You

I had a wonderful manager who coached me before I presented to 100 plus people: “keep in mind that it is a good thing to feel a bit intimidated, it means you care about what you’re doing.”  As soon as I changed my perception of stress from being bad to good, I was able to realize the benefits of my body’s response to stress.

The stress reaction we have before doing something intimidating is actually our bodies preparing us for battle.  It’s not actually debilitating if you realize that your body is increasing your oxygen flow, improving the flow of nutrients to your muscles and producing hormones that increase awareness.  The fight or flight response can almost become a reason for flight if we think that stress is a bad thing.

Go Do Your Own Rejection Therapy by Association

So go do it.  Do it now.  Watch Jia Jang’s 100 Days of Rejection as he went from being rejected, to getting over it, to having a 60% success rate towards the end!

As you do this if you really want to get over it: try it yourself.  Set up a list of 100 things you could be rejected for in business.  And start down the list.  My successes so far include upcoming guest posts with companies that I never thought I’d have a chance with, beers with an INC 5,000 President, and collaborative projects with the GM of a company that I’ve been a customer of for 12 years.

If I’m ever sitting there ready to do something crazy, and I need extra motivation, I’ll refill my “tank” with some more videos of Jia conquering the fear of rejection and then go do the same in my own life.  I probably need to do this even faster because the more times I’m rejected, the faster I can learn and build my own fearlessness.

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