By Emma Kimmerly
If you hesitate to raise your hand in class, or if you’d rather move to a foreign country before voicing your opinion in a group, then rejection therapy could be your new best friend.
“I’m going out for 30 days and trying to get rejected as many times as I can,” Mike Medeiros, a fourth-year arts and contemporary studies student says.
And he’s pretty good at it.
Medeiros has been posting videos of his rejections on Facebook for all of his friends to see since Jan. 29. From asking to be a live mannequin for American Eagle, to demanding a burger refill on his McChicken, his posts are gaining social media attention.
This form of therapy focuses less on reflection and discussion, and more on numbing your fear, in this case, the fear of rejection. “The goal is to get out of that comfort zone,” he says.
Ryerson psychology professor David Day says that a website that sells rejection therapy cards advertises it as a game, and therefore it is not technically therapy. “(It’s) an opportunity for people to engage in behaviour that goes against the social norm,” he says.
Due to the self-oriented nature of this challenge, the length of a session can range. For example, Medeiros draws some of his ideas for his rejection month from blogger/entrepreneur Jia Jiang, who documented his 100 day session online.
Another way to find challenges is to simply buy the online version mentioned before, or you can make your own to fit your busy student schedule.
Medeiros makes sure he keeps up with his daily rejections by recording the interactions discreetly with his phone, and then uploading it online.
“I’m sure a lot of people in, let’s say a classroom setting, if they’re in a group assignment, they have that fear..” Medeiros says. “(The) fear is in the hesitation, in when you want to ask someone something”.
Medeiros says that after his second day, he was able to go up and talk to people he didn’t know and strike up a conversation. “I don’t usually do that, but it feels better,” he says.
This type of challenge is comparable to what Day calls flooding or exposure therapy, which can be used in cognitive-behavioural cases. The goals are the same, to expose people to experience their fear and feel discomforted. Though in most forms, a therapist is present with the person while they try this, reminding them to use coping techniques such as breathing deeper to relax.
“Rejection therapy is led by the person with the ‘fear’ of rejection, and not in any controlled environment or way,” Day says.
Whether it’s formal or informal, therapies can help people to come to terms with themselves and the people around them. Ryerson’s downtown atmosphere can feel unwelcoming, when students walk with their heads down and earbuds in from point A to point B. Medeiros says that going out and asking for things can show a whole new side,
“They were going up to strangers and asking for selfies and randomly asking people for high fives and for the most part they didn’t get rejected, “ he says of watching his friends experience.
“People are afraid to ask for things they really want… they withdrawal themselves and they don’t actually go through with things,” Medeiros says. “And that’s something that I don’t want to happen to me.”