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yeah_yeah_yeah 03-28-2007 06:06 AM

CBT Shame Attacking Exercises - Terrifying!!
 
Hello

I am new to the boards and have been spending some time reading through posts. It is comforting to read that so many people are having the same experiences as me and that they fit under the label of Social Anxiety. Its also great to read of peoples progress.

I would like to try something called Shame Attacking Exercises that CBT recommends. It is when you do something to actually make people disapprove of you, like shouting out the floor numbers in a crowded lift or singing out loud in a department store. It is meant to show you that disapproval is not as cataclysmic as you might think it is and to help with a chronic lack of assertiveness.

I have been trying 'baby steps' with it. Little things like cutting in front of people with my trolley in the supermarket, or being a bit cheeky or rude to people, especially if they are rude to me. In this latter situation I would like to experiment with being downright obnoxious on occasion but I am scared of being shot down or beaten up. This is wrong because others do not see it that way ... Sometimes being rude is pretty good fun ...

I am having trouble (read paralysed) with going as far as calling out the floors in the lift or singing out loud. If anyone has done CBT, this is my thought process:

"If I sing out loud, there may be a guy there who will insult me and everyone will laugh. I will feel destroyed but laugh like an idiot. People will look down on me. Someone might push me or become physically aggressive. There may be a young girl there who is scared by my behaviour and tells a guard or assistant. I may see someone I know and they will think I've lost it. I have no right to impose my voice on other people. They are trying to shop in peace."

This is a pretty radical exercise but seems to be a core idea in CBT (Burns, New Mood Therapy). Can anyone offer me 'positive alternatives' to my thoughts above? Can anyone come up with 'baby steps' disapproval challenges for me that are a little less scary? Then I can build up to the harder ones!

If you see a young, dashingly handsome, but oddly nervous guy singing to himself in a department store near you, go and shake his hand!!

Ross

anniebell1 03-28-2007 01:58 PM

re: CBT Shame Attacking Exercises - Terrifying!!
 
I don't know if these are small enough steps or not, but here are some disapproval challenges I've heard of:

1) giving the wrong change on purpose when paying for something
2) going into a restaurant or store just to use the bathroom

that's all I have, sorry. I'm not sure those will be helpful, but maybe they will be more manageable things to do.

yeah_yeah_yeah 03-28-2007 03:26 PM

re: CBT Shame Attacking Exercises - Terrifying!!
 
Hi Annie

Those are great - I will give them a go. Funny you should mention the money because I just got on a bus and didn't have enough money - he was really cool about it and let me on. Then I came back and found your post! How freaky http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/...aa6fcd4829.gif Mind you I did TELL him I didn't have enough - I guess it would be worse if I'd just handed it over ... I will try that.

Have you done shame attacking exercises yourself? I quite like the idea of practising being obnoxious - it seems like fun! http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/...62652afbcf.gif

Ross

idunnoimnotcreative 03-28-2007 04:20 PM

re: CBT Shame Attacking Exercises - Terrifying!!
 
Calling out floor numbers and singing out loud are things that people without SA would have a lot trouble doing. I don't think you need to go that far out. I ended up doing the screwing up the change thing by accident today and I wasn't embarrassed or anything, which was surprising. I just apologized and brought out the correct amount, nothing bad happened.

Some other things to consider:

-take a while fiddling around with your change, fishing around through your wallet for pennies or what not.

-wear a sweater or shirt inside-out or backwards and go for an outing in public

-don't comb your hair and go out in public

-wear clothing that is a bit too warm for the weather

-if you're in college, go to class or an exam in your pyjamas

I've done a few of the above, and nothing negative ever ended up happening to me.

embers 03-28-2007 04:36 PM

re: CBT Shame Attacking Exercises - Terrifying!!
 
A few things I've tried, some I haven't but am going to:

Being indecisive when ordering at a restaurant. (Builds up resistance to people being impatient with you).

Tripping in public (in case it ever happens for real i'll know I won't die of shame).

Calling up business establishments and asking questions about services they don't offer.

Telling a telemarketer they sound sexy on the phone (this is a good one because telemarketers are rude and it gets them off guard, I actually had a telemarketer hang up on ME, hehe).

I want to do things like skip in public or have a full conversation with my dog in front of other people. Still testing the waters on that one.

Demerzel 03-28-2007 04:42 PM

One I've heard of before is tripping on purpose. I've never done it on purpose, but i've done it by accident. For some reason I don't get SA when that happens, & just think it's funny. I've laughed at myself while other peeps didn't even care in the least. lol

PlayerOffGames 03-28-2007 05:02 PM

Re: re: CBT Shame Attacking Exercises - Terrifying!!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by zengirl
A few things I've tried

^^ ive never heard of this before...did it really help you?

Halcyon 03-28-2007 05:30 PM

Re: re: CBT Shame Attacking Exercises - Terrifying!!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by yeah_yeah_yeah
Hi Annie

Those are great - I will give them a go. Funny you should mention the money because I just got on a bus and didn't have enough money - he was really cool about it and let me on. Then I came back and found your post! How freaky http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/...aa6fcd4829.gif Mind you I did TELL him I didn't have enough - I guess it would be worse if I'd just handed it over ... I will try that.

Have you done shame attacking exercises yourself? I quite like the idea of practising being obnoxious - it seems like fun! http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/...62652afbcf.gif

Ross

this is pretty cool...first time i've heard of this

I think i am always trying too hard to control or perfect a moment but doing the opposite on purpose to show yourself that its not as bad...interesting

The whole pajamas thing to class, i might do that...actually kind of terrified now that i think of it but i've seen others do it and they look pretty good in pajamas...lets do this!

what other stuff have you guys tried?

embers 03-28-2007 05:42 PM

re: CBT Shame Attacking Exercises - Terrifying!!
 
Quote:

zengirl wrote:
A few things I've tried


^^ ive never heard of this before...did it really help you?
_________________
Yes. I've done a lot of these things in the past by accident and got extremely embarrassed, flustered, flushed, etc. But when i'm acting, there's no shame.

One more thing i've done is drop things in public. I'm thinking of dropping my purse and letting everything fall out of it.

A couple more scary things:

Full cart of groceries, and not enough money. Have the cashier subtract items until you can cover it. I got this idea from Terms of Endearment.

Giving myself a bad hairstyle and asking someone if my hair looks bad.

In all these scenarios, people are extremely patient and understanding.

Halcyon 03-28-2007 05:45 PM

Re: re: CBT Shame Attacking Exercises - Terrifying!!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by zengirl
Quote:

zengirl wrote:
A few things I've tried


^^ ive never heard of this before...did it really help you?
_________________
Yes. I've done a lot of these things in the past by accident and got extremely embarrassed, flustered, flushed, etc. But when i'm acting, there's no shame.

One more thing i've done is drop things in public. I'm thinking of dropping my purse and letting everything fall out of it.

A couple more scary things:

Full cart of groceries, and not enough money.

Giving myself a bad hairstyle and asking someone if my hair looks bad.

In all these scenarios, people are extremely patient and understanding.

whats your attitude or what are you feeling while doing all this in public?

embers 03-28-2007 05:52 PM

re: CBT Shame Attacking Exercises - Terrifying!!
 
Quote:

whats your attitude or what are you feeling while doing all this in public?
When you asked that the first thing that comes to mind is amused, because it is kind of silly if you think about it. Its like a joke you're the only one in on, and the jokes on everyone else. A couple more things come to mind like, being in control of the situation, and both the humor and the control make me feel more calm.

yeah_yeah_yeah 03-28-2007 06:21 PM

Re: re: CBT Shame Attacking Exercises - Terrifying!!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by zengirl

Giving myself a bad hairstyle and asking someone if my hair looks bad.

http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/...9c638bb99a.gif

Ross

Halcyon 03-28-2007 08:14 PM

Re: re: CBT Shame Attacking Exercises - Terrifying!!
 
^ ermmm how do you guys approach the situations?

like uhmmmm how do you convince yourselves to go out and do this stuff, i guess before you did all this there were some CBT steps to prepare you up to this point so you must be pretty in depth already in it?

Like some of the things you guys are doing are pretty fearful, i'm really impressed tho...gotta like give you some of clap claps

Like if tomorrow i told myself, ok i'm wearing pajamas to class...i would feel pretty silly too but i don't know this linger fear in me being so out of "character"....but i think i'd do it, i'd be more comfortable if someone else did it with me but yeah...

realrage 03-28-2007 08:47 PM

Re: re: CBT Shame Attacking Exercises - Terrifying!!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Halcyon
^ ermmm how do you guys approach the situations?

I would say create a list of all the potential situations that you might want to put yourself into. Then put them in a hierarchy from the lowest amount of anxiety to the highest. Take the one at the bottom and begin there, taking it slow and being aware of your anxiety levels. Exposing yourself to the point where you feel comfortable and then moving on.

One example I've done is asking a clerk where an item is located in a supermaket. After a while of doing that my the anxiety level had dropped. I moved up to asking them where the item is and then returning to ask them again, and eventually getting them to show me exactly where the item is. Playing that I just couldn't find it. That was a little easier place to start for me.

Pirateshaveparrots. 03-29-2007 01:22 AM

re: CBT Shame Attacking Exercises - Terrifying!!
 
-Fart in public, the louder the better

-Blast Rap music through your car system with all the windows rolled down

-Follow somebody through a store but pretend you are a ninja. Whenever they notice you try to hide.

-As you are walking past somebody sorta toss/throw a quarter at them. I mean hey, they should be greatful, right?

-Dress up in a dinosaur costum and try to convince passer byers that dinosaurs didn't go extinct.

-Wear a shirt saying "I have EXTREME sa!" with a picture of some overthetop action scene printed on the shirt.

-Give a random person a hug

-Start dancing as you walk through a store

-Start laughing while waiting in a line

-Sing while you are waiting in a line

-Tell a random stranger that is in line by you that you didn't take a shower today.

-Ask a random girl/guy passing by if they would want to do something later

-Make crank calls to somebody but when they say you have the wrong number insist that you do indeed have the right number.

-Ask a random girl/guy if they are ticklish (I love tickling ;) )

-When you are in a store start running frantically while looking behind you as if something were chasing you.

-Go to a store and challenge a random person to a race and before they can say anything take off running while screaming "I'm gonna win! I'm gonna win!"

-Make funny faces to people who are stopped beside you in traffic

-Pretend to faint then before someone calls 911 get up and say "Boy, I'm really tired"

-Walk around with a sign saying "If you can make me smile I'll give you $20"

Try some of those on for size!

yeah_yeah_yeah 03-29-2007 02:37 AM

re: CBT Shame Attacking Exercises - Terrifying!!
 
Thanks Pirate

Though I sense you may not be taking this ENTIRELY seriously .... :yes

Ross

yeah_yeah_yeah 03-29-2007 03:00 AM

Re: re: CBT Shame Attacking Exercises - Terrifying!!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Halcyon
^ how do you convince yourselves to go out and do this stuff, i guess before you did all this there were some CBT steps to prepare you up to this point so you must be pretty in depth already in it?

Hi Halcyon (cool pic by the way)

I have done a fair bit of CBT yes, but I don't think you need to have done it to do the exercises. They work on the same principle of phobia cures - that something gets bigger and more scary in your mind the more you worry about it and AVOID it. You can convince yourself to go and do it by knowing that it will take a big chunk out of your SA! There's a big reward ...

If you go out and give it a go, the more your brain sees that its not as mortally dangerous as it thinks. Its very psychological. But yes, realrage's idea of ranking it in order of scaryness is a good thing to do - gradual exposure to fear helps you to build up to the really challenging stuff (imagine jumping off a diving board - you would want to start with the 1 metre before you work up to the 3, the 5, the 10...). This is true of any social anxiety exercise. CBT is big on making you 'do' stuff, its central to the idea - YOU are part of the cure. If you haven't done so, I would strongly recommend if you can't see a therapist that you get hold of a good CBT book. "Feeling Good - the New Mood Therapy" - by David Burns is considered the bible of CBT.

The brain learns by this gradual exposure (exactly the same way you learnt your anxiety) - though it can be tough to just go out and do it, thats why its a good idea to start with the small ones. SO no, you don't need any preparation!

The key is 'not thinking about it'. Have the exercise at the back of your mind, but before you do it think about something else. Chocolate waffles for example. If you are doing the 'wrong change' exercise, stand in the queue and think about the chocolate bars on the rack or that movie you saw earlier. When you get to the counter, just do it and remember that the person is just a check out clerk - not the president, or the queen of england. I make myself smile at people (especially pretty girls) on the street and I can't do it if I think about it directly - I just reflexively do it when I see someone I like the look of. They either smile back or just carry on walking - no hostile reactions at all!

Another tough thing to come to terms with for me is that YOU ARE ACTIVELY TRYING TO BE DISAPPROVED OF. Its no good secretly hoping people will think you are hilarious (though this may happen) - for Shame Attacking to work, you have to accept you may be disapproved of. This is whats scaring me - but I think I'll feel great after I've done it because I'm IN CONTROL of the situation.

Ross

Pirateshaveparrots. 03-29-2007 04:34 AM

Re: re: CBT Shame Attacking Exercises - Terrifying!!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by yeah_yeah_yeah
Thanks Pirate

Though I sense you may not be taking this ENTIRELY seriously .... :yes

Ross

Just trying to bring you alittle humor :lol

falling snow 03-29-2007 02:44 PM

re: CBT Shame Attacking Exercises - Terrifying!!
 
They really made me giggle, pirates!
-Follow somebody through a store but pretend you are a ninja. Whenever they notice you try to hide. :lol I've got to try that!

And I loved Zengirl's:
Telling a telemarketer they sound sexy on the phone (this is a good one because telemarketers are rude and it gets them off guard, I actually had a telemarketer hang up on ME, hehe).

Welcome, Ross. Good to have someone from my part of the world here... Good luck with the CBT.

idunnoimnotcreative 03-29-2007 10:27 PM

This is a great thread btw. There's plenty of great advice being handed out. I think we need more threads like this :)


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