Can rejection therapy really heal your social anxiety? TikTok suggests so

Rejection therapy has now taken centre stage on platforms like TikTok, captivating younger audiences with its unconventional approach to confronting social anxiety.

A few days ago, I stumbled upon a thought-provoking video featuring a girl lying across a busy pedestrian area in London. As a concerned passenger approaches her, she calmly reassures them that she’s engaging in a unique practice known as “rejection therapy.” Despite not being prompted further about it, she goes on to explain that this technique is a deliberate effort to step out of one’s comfort zone, gain confidence, and not fear judgment from others.

The (slightly odd) concept has gained significant traction lately, especially among younger generations seeking to bolster their resilience and confidence in the face of social anxiety. It’s a method aimed at desensitising individuals to the fear of rejection by deliberately seeking out various rejection experiences. But what exactly is rejection therapy, why is everyone obsessed with it, and why is it crucial not to confuse it with humiliation rituals?

What is rejection therapy?

Rejection Therapy is a social self-help game originally created by Canadian entrepreneur Jason Comely where being rejected by another person or group is the sole winning condition. The player can attempt any kind of social rejection, or try a suggestion from one of the Rejection Therapy suggestion cards available. The game can be played for any length of time, although many undertake the 30-Day Challenge.

In November 2016, Jia Jiang acquired the game and became its sole owner. As stated on the company’s websiteJiang’s “goal was to desensitise myself from the pain of rejection and overcome my fear,” a point he delved more into in his TED talk What I learned from 100 days of rejection.

These scenarios can range from mundane requests like borrowing money from a stranger or asking for a burger refill to more outlandish endeavours such as speaking over Costco’s intercom or delivering pizza for Domino’s when you don’t actually work there.

The rise of rejection therapy has been fueled in part by social media platforms like TikTok, where users share their own rejection challenges and experiences with millions of viewers. These clips often go viral, inspiring others to embark on their rejection journeys and document their progress along the way.

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