Rejection therapy is a relatively new concept, based on a “game” by the same name. The player of this game seeks out and experiences some form of it at least once a day. To do this, they approach others (often strangers but not always) and ask them for anything from a stick of gum to a dollar to a date.
By repeatedly putting ourselves into a situation where rejection is extremely likely, 2 outcomes occur: first, we realize that rejection is not the end of the world. It happens, we experience the emotions associated with it, and we move on.
Second: we come to understand that rejection happens far less often than our fears and insecurities would have us believe. When it DOES happen, it is usually with a smile and an apology, rather than the derision or insults we often believe are the assured outcome.
And more often than we would have predicted, strangers will give us that piece of gum, or a dollar, or even their phone number for a date.
While “rejection therapy” isn’t for everyone, my experience is that far more people feel, deep down in their heart, that “I couldn’t never just come out and ask” than they do “It never hurts to ask.” Many of us believe – either because of anticipatory fear or because of negative past experiences – that asking can hurt very very much.
But Elul, and beyond it Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, is the season for asking.
We seek out people we know we have wronged and ask them to forgive us, and how we might make amends. We ask people for forgiveness for the more general “if there is anything I have done in the past year to offend or hurt you”.
In prayer, we approach the Creator of All Things and beg forgiveness for our human failings, for the times we have fallen short, for the times we were ignorant despite opportunities to educate ourselves, and for the times we were willfully defiant. We ask on behalf of our community, on behalf of our children, and for ourselves.
If we approach the season fearful of rejection, we are unlikely to approach this task with the sincerity, intensity, and alacrity it requires.
In order to receive what we desperately need – forgiveness and the emotional release it brings – we must find a way past our (often irrational) fear of rejection,
and just ASK.