We mostly consider rejections as inter-personal experiences, with one person rejecting another, and the results are always undesirable. In reality, self-rejections happen a lot more frequent, and for good and for bad reasons.
A bad reason for self-rejection is that a person is afraid to be rejected by others, so he rejects himself to avoid the imagined pain. As I explained in my talk – Rejection vs Regret, this type of self-rejection is very counter-productive. It prevents us from obtaining the opportunities and beauty life has to offer.
On the other hand, a good self-rejection, if used correctly, is amazingly useful. For example, an ex-Navy Commander and the author of the wonderful leadership book Turn the Ship Around!, David Marquet once chatted with me about him having to reject his own military leadership mentality in order let his employees shine with their creativity.
For me, like many others, I am terrified of height. One night, I listened to Dina Kaplan, the founder of blip.tv giving a keynote talk about her overcoming her fear of height. She did so by doing a bungee jump, and felt completely liberated afterward. She then encouraged the audience to do the same.
Feeling compelled, I challenged myself that night to reject my own fear by doing the SkyJump off Las Vegas’ Stratosphere, the highest controlled free fall in the world (108th floor).
Standing on the edge of the tower, I knew the only thing between an amazing experience (jump) and regret (retreat) was my own fear. It was a gruesome war of emotions in my head, heart and stomach, and it took every ounce of courage I had. Once in the air, as I was engulfed in the amazing sensation of flying, I realized how sweet victories, especially the ones over myself, can feel.
Learning: we can discuss, analyze and “wait for the right opportunity to conquer” fear all day long, but nothing happens unless we make the jump. Just like rejection therapy, the only way to cure a fear is to confront it head-on.