Today’s RE (rejection experiment) was super uncomfortable for me. I decided to ask a stranger to have a staring contest with me. I chose a person in Starbucks. She was the only person sitting there so the decision was easy. However actually getting up and going over there and making the request was not easy. All of my rationalizing kicked into high gear. It wasn’t a good enough challenge, it was silly, I should wait and think of something else, and many other thoughts came to mind. I realized that I was experiencing fear and resistance.
YES. This is what I wanted. This allows me to come face to face with the fear and choose to act despite the fear. So, I acted. I got up from my seat and walked out the door, got into my car and drove off! Yep, I chickened out. I chickened out from a seemingly easy task but it scared the heck out of me. I drove a block and decided that I had to go back. I had experienced the fear and discomfort and I had to go back because clearly this was the perfect experiment. So I took a deep breath and drove back, walked in sat down next to the woman and made the ridiculous request.
“Hello, could I interrupt for a minute?” She looked up, and I continued, “Would you be willing to have a staring contest with me?” There was silence and then she said “What?” thinking she must not have understood me. “Would you have a staring contest with me? You know, like kids do. Whoever blinks first loses?” She appeared uncomfortable and I could tell that a no was about to be announced. Then after a few seconds of consideration she said ” I guess so.”
“Great, I’ll count to three and then we’ll start.”
So we had our contest and after we talked for a few seconds. I introduced myself and let her know what I was doing and why I asked her. I also asked her why she agreed to the staring contest. Turns out it was a case of her being afraid of saying no and then having me feel badly. What would happen if I felt badly? Then she would feel badly and worry that she would experience some sort of rejection!
I have to tell you that when I left the coffee shop I felt elated, energized, and excited. I was laughing to myself in the car because I felt so good. I felt good because I had faced a fear that felt real. It felt like something was at stake. Even though it’s completely crazy our emotions especially fear can feel like you are going to die. Our mind is always trying to keep us safe, always trying to warn us of any possible harm or hurt or prevent us from being outcast from the pack because if we are cast out we will likely die. This is hard wired. It’s how things used to be once long ago when we were hunters and gatherers. Dependence on the pack/clan/tribe was paramount. Without the pack we would starve and die.
Wayne Dyer calls Fear- False Evidence Appearing Real.