So You Want to Try Doing Rejection Therapy Eh? Here’s My Advice…

As many of you know, I’ve been doing this thing called the Rejection Therapy Challenge – created by another Jason – Jason Comely. [1]. It’s still going on and I’m getting a lot out of it (more in another post) but this week instead of continuing to write about MY rejections, I wanted to focus on YOU.

Many people have expressed interest (either through comments on HN/this site, via email or in person) in doing a rejection challenge themselves. I get a real kick out of hearing this because I love it when people decide to challenge themselves and go outside their comfort zones. At the same time, I get a little sad because I know that most people [2] won’t actually follow through with it.

Why? I think the reasons fall into two buckets:

1) Asking for things and getting rejected is uncomfortable

In some ways, the Rejection Therapy Challenge is a really weird thing. Who would go out of their way to do this? Someone who is a little crazy – and I don’t think people really like identifying as a border-line nutcase. [3]

Most people don’t like to impose on others because it makes them feel bad. Most people are afraid to ask for what they really want. We were always told not to talk to strangers so it feels dangerous sometimes. All these uncomfortable feelings are an important part of Rejection Therapy but they can wear on you and make doing the challenge very uncomfortable.

SOLUTION: Accept and embrace the discomfort. Let fear be your guide. I promise that doing Rejection Therapy exposes you to very minimal downside (just don’t ask for anything REALLY stupid and you’re fine). However, the upside is great – this experiment can introduce some amazing stories and interesting opportunities that are well worth the risk and last beyond the 30 days.

2) New behaviors are difficult to maintain

Developing new habits is hard. That’s why most people fail to achieve their New Year’s Resolutions. Rejection Therapy is a very unconventional new behavior (compared to something like “going to the gym”) which makes it a little more awkward for you to share with friends. It’s easy to to fall back into old routines or just skip a day.

It also requires you to keep thinking of new things to get rejected from and trust me, that can be pretty difficult. You’re also doing the challenge in isolation for the most part – none of your friends are doing it – which makes it less fun. We know that commitment can be very powerful – but staying motivated for 30 days is hard.

SOLUTION: Get someone to do it with you. Or at least be your accountability partner. This means you’ll have someone who will share stories with you, brainstorm rejection ideas and be your cheerleader when you get down. Hell, I’ll even be your partner if you want. If you email me at [jasonyshen]@[gmail].[com] with the subject: “Rejection Therapy Accountability Partner” I’ll see what I can do!

So that’s what I got this week. My rejection attempts roll onward and you’ll get a full recap next week, promise. In the meantime, I hope this post helped you get a little closer to doing your own Rejection Therapy Challenge. If you do decide to do it, with or without my help – please drop me a line! I’d love to know.


[1](Jason Comely)  I’ve actually met the guy and he’s really cool. Definitely a more reserved person (he basically created the game to push himself into more social situations) but very smart and nice guy. We’re cooking up some interesting plans so stay tuned..

[2] (most people won’t follow through) Wherever I refer to “people” in these following paragraphs note that I’m extrapolating ideas from personal reflection, conversations with others, and a lot of self-directed study into psychology and behavioral economics. I don’t presume to speak for the people who’ve said they want to do the challenge.

[3] (identifying as a borderline nutcase) But normalcy is overrated. Do you know what else isn’t normal? Winning – anything. By definition, winners are not normal. Neither are millionaires and successful startup founders. Life is too short to be normal.

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Jason Shen

Jason is a tech entrepreneur and talent expert. He is CEO of a performance hiring platform called Headlight, a Fast Company contributor, and an advocate for Asian American men. Follow him on Twitter at @jasonshen and subscribe to his private newsletter.

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  6. Really enjoyed reading your series of posts about Rejection Therapy. Some of the ideas are really funny, especially when people oblige (the croissant one made me ‘lol’ at work).

    I’m thinking of doing the challenge myself. Naturally I’m apprehensive, but hey.

  7. Seems like a cool plan. I am not sure wether I will do it, but the idea will be floating on my mind for a few days. I started unwillingly today, tho I am not sure wether I’ll be rejected. :)

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