The Rejection Experiment
100 days of rejection.
I’ve noticed for years that the banking establishment at which I bank also houses a Fallout shelter. When I drive by I wonder what is that all about? What’s down there? Food? Water? Beds? Medical supplies? Masks? Well I could ask or better yet I could ask for a tour! I assumed they would say no. I imagined Banks have all sorts of rules about where clients may go. Locked doors, cameras, etc. But I would make the request anyway.
I went into the bank, made a deposit and the teller asked me, “Is there anything else I can help you with?” To which I answered,
“Well yes. I would like to tour the fall out shelter is that possible?”
She looked at me blankly and asked me what I had just said.
“The fall out shelter. I believe there is one below us. May I tour it?”
She appeared puzzled and requested the manager. I again made my request to the manager and she began laughing. She said that in her 15 years at the bank no one had ever asked to see the Fall Out shelter but that if I really wanted to see it I could return in a couple hours and she would give me the tour. Well I sure did want to and so I returned a couple hours later for the tour. Check out this photo from the tour. I am holding actual decades old radiation detection devices! Decades old, unused and right out of the box. The space was nothing like it used to be. It used to house cots, medical supplies, canned goods etc. There was only one bed down there now and lots of storage racks but mostly empty now. A few boxes which contained the radiation equipment and that was about it. Still cool to see and hopefully we’ll never need the space for what it was intended. Thanks Terri and Sarah for being willing to provide the tour! It certainly made for a unique visit to the bank.
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.
Someone in our town recently purchased a Tesla. I love these cars and the whole company and their philosophy behind them. I do know this person but not well enough that I would feel comfortable just asking him for a ride in his car. So I texted him and requested a ride. I didn’t hear back that day so I called and left a message requesting a ride. I didn’t hear back for several days and then I received a voicemail from him saying he would be delighted to take me for a ride and that he would make it happen after the snow melts. This may not seem like a big deal but it’s just not something that I would normally do and is out of my comfort zone for a number of factors. Looking forward to the ride in the Tesla! My partner suggested to take it one step further and make the request to DRIVE the Tesla. Well… I’ll keep you posted. 🙂
On an early morning walk through a beautiful neighborhood in Southern California I passed by a house that sat up off the road. I was at just the right angle that I could see they had a ping pong table in their garage and the garage door was open. I thought to myself, I like ping pong and I have to make a request. Maybe someone would indulge me in a game. So I walked up to the front door and knocked which set off the dog barking. A woman quickly came to the door and grabbed the dog, while a man slipped outside and shut the door behind him. I introduced myself and let him know that I was in town visiting family down the street. I had been enjoying my morning stroll, spotted the ping pong table and then he finished my sentence by saying,
Definitely was out of my comfort zone on this one as it required crossing physical boundaries. Meaning I was crossing from public property (the public road) onto their private property. And should they say no… it would require walking away across their private property. All psychological and feels very real.
I want to add at this point that I actually didn’t know what I would learn during this overall experiment. I am learning, even at this stage, way more than I expected!