FRIDAY NIGHT WORKSHOP - 03/17/06
Dealing With Shyness and other issues
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["Edward" is one of my favorite types of participants. He's thoughtful, he presents a real issue in his life, and he is new to the concepts of REBT. I always enjoy watching someone receive the concepts of REBT as a set of totally new ideas and respond to them with an open mind.
Kinda reminds me of myself in that sense, way back when...
A rather large young man, Edward had a good sense of humor about himself and his weight.
At one point, Dr. Ellis has Edward repeat "I'm still a good person at heart." Of course, it's well known that Dr. Ellis believes that there are no good or bad PEOPLE, just people who do good or bad things. But many times participants will say things like "...because I'm a good person", or "She is a good person...".
I've never seen him push the issue when participants say such things: it seems he simply accepts the fact that 'egoless-ness' is one of the harder concepts for people to grasp - especially newcomers to REBT - and so he doesn't force the point on anybody.
I don't know this for certain, but I have noticed the above during the many workshops I've attended.
Dr. Ellis' joke - "Beautiful - well, so am I, but who cares?" received the biggest laugh I've ever seen him get. His timing was worthy of Groucho Marx- you would have thought that bit was written and rehearsed. - Danny]
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Ok. "Edward", what problem do you want to start with?
Ummm...My issue is with women. And, I'm terribly shy.
What do you tell yourself to make yourself shy and timid?
I don't want to be rejected.
And I MUST not be rejected. Why must you not be rejected?
It doesn't feel good.
Why do you have to feel great, great, great?
[pause] I don't have to.
I don't have to - Debbie doesn't. Why do YOU?
I don't know. Umm...I don't know. I don't know why I should feel great.
Then don't feel good. Why not try to feel bad? See how it goes. See if it kills ya.
I don't wanna feel bad, so I try to play it safe.
So it's desirable to feel good, but why is it necessary? Why?
Why is it necessary to feel good?
Because good is better than bad.
Yeah. But why must you have it. A million dollars is better than half a million, but why must you have a million?
[pause] I guess I don't have to have a million, I choose to.
But suppose you don't have it - then what can you tell yourself?
Then I'll just do without it.
Right. It won't kill ya. It'll just half kill ya. Suppose I had to have people's approval. How would I feel when I don't get it?
I guess you'll always feel horrible.
Then how could I NOT feel horrible? What could I DO?
[pause] I guess play it safe?
[pause] To go with what you know would be safe - be all right. Go with the sure shot.
And not NEED it. Say, "I'd like it, but I never need it, because if I don't have it, It's too unfucking bad". Yeah.
The shyness is with women.
Yeah. What makes women MARVELOUS? [laughter] ALL of them?
I like women - I'm not shy anymore. I got over that years ago.
What makes them so marvelous? They're beautiful!
Yeah, well - so am I! [laughter and applause] Who cares?
What could you do to be un-shy? Like I am?
I don't know. I don't know how.
RISK it. Risk it. Try many women and get rejected, and say "TOO DAMN BAD! But it's not awful, and I'm still a good person at heart." Why are you OK when you get rejected?
[to Debbie] Why am I not OK, or why am I OK?
Debbie Joffe: Why are you OK even if you're rejected?
Because it's not gonna kill me.
No. It'll HALF kill you. And the half will be created by you. When I get rejected it doesn't kill me. I'm still alive and kicking. So could you be, if you told yourself WHAT?
[pause] Shit happens. [laughs]
Yeah. It happens badly. Too bad. But why is nothing ever AWFUL? Nothing? Earthquakes, volcanos - why are they never awful?
Because they're natural?
Well, they're natural - and because they are bad but they're not as bad as possible. An earthquake could have TWO earthquakes, or there could be TWO volcanos - it could always be worse. Too damn BAD.
Let's give you Rational Emotive Imagery. Close your eyes, and imagine that you get rejected by 250 women. Vividly imagine that. Can you imagine that?
How do you feel in your heart?
I feel unwanted.
So how do you feel about BEING unwanted?
Sad is OK. But don't you also feel depressed and worthless? Be honest.
What are you telling yourself to make yourself depressed and worthless?
[pause] I'm not good enough.
"I'm not good enough for this woman, and I'm not good enough for ANY women." How do you know that one hundred million women will reject you? How?
Then why are you thinking that it's awful? You're saying that "if even ONE woman rejects me, SHE makes me NO GOOD." How does she make you ANYTHING?
Not at all. Therefore, you could tell yourself WHAT?
One woman doesn't determine the outcome.
That's right. So - "I'll never be able to marry her. Tough. So I'll marry the other hundred thousand."
Yeah - I like that.
When you're very depressed - because many women have rejected you - what could you say to yourself to make yourself healthfully SORRY and REGRETFUL, but not DEPRESSED? What?
I couldn't imagine not feeling that way and not feeling all those things.
Well, feel it right now. Make yourself get rejected and feel DEPRESSED, WORTHLESS, NO GOOD - which you can do. You're an expert at that. [laughter]
You know me, huh!
Make yourself feel worthless.
[long pause] OK.
All right. Now - "Edward" - get in touch with it, and then make yourself feel very regretful, very sorrowful, but not worthless. You can do it.
How did you do it?
I did it by thinking that... "You know what - OK, that didn't feel good. But you know what, I'm gonna try it again".
Right. And you can always change and choose to be different. So DO it, do it, do it - many times until you conciously and unconciously feel OK despite the rejection. Will you do that every day for thirty days in a row? It only takes a minute a day. Feel awful, worthless - and then make yourself feel regretful, sorry, but not depressed. Do it every day - once a day for thirty days.
I do it in the same way I just did it?
Debbie: Feel the worst and change it.
Now, we have to make it STRONG - emotional. What do you like to do that you enjoy every day of the week?
I like to eat. [laughter]
Only eat AFTER you've done the Rational Emotive Imagery and change your feelings. What do you HATE to do that you AVOID doing?
Oh. If bedtime arrives on a given day and you haven't done it, you FAST for two days.
[Edward laughs out loud] Oh, man!
What else about this have we not covered?
Eating? Do you eat too much?
What do you tell yourself to MAKE yourself, Edward, eat too much - like I don't?
It tastes good; I'm not full.
But why do you NEED it just because it tastes good? I'm diabetic - so, sugar tastes great. But I never eat it.
I'm a diabetic, too.
Right. So why do you NEED the extra food? It'll kill ya.
I guess - I guess it's not real to me. I guess that, you know, I can't imagine being that way.
Well - keep it up! You'll die!
Every day, for the next 30 days, feel depressed and down about overeating and anything. Feel it. DON'T suppress it or repress it, and then change it, to feeling sorry, disappointed- but NOT, NOT self-downing. Will you do that once a day for 30 days?
I'll do it.
What do you like to do that you enjoy doing - outside of food?
I like listening to music.
ONLY after you do the Rational Emotive Imagery and change your feelings - then you can enjoy listening to music. What do you HATE to do that you don't do because you don't like it? Some chore or task.
If bedtime arrives, and you STILL haven't done it - change your feelings - you stay up for two hours cleaning. Anything about this which we may not have covered?
Oh, we could go on! [laughter]
About the two issues you brought up.
About the women -
Back to women...
All right. What can you do about women?
Don't kill 'em. What else can you do?
I find that when I initiate a conversation with a woman, I tend- like, I'm good at opening up a conversation, but after that, my mind, like, shuts down. I can't think after that.
Open it up, and try another and another and another. And let's see if you die of that, or of diabetes. Right.
Before we move to the audience, "Frank" and "Edward" seem to have a terror of either rejection and/or abandonment. Can you talk about why so many people have that terror, and the healthy way to think?
Because it's unpleasant - nobody likes to get rejected. But you're saying, "I't's SO unpleasant, I CAN'T BEAR IT!". So, you're making it horrible and awful. So, by all means, keep "It's unpleasant" , but do it 'till you get used to it and it becomes PLEASANT.
How can people who think they need a partner to be really happy be happy if they haven't got a partner?
They'll be ALONE, but they won't be shitty for BEING alone. So if they don't blame themselves, and say, "I must have a partner! I must have a partner!", then they'll get by and be happy doing all kinds of other things.
[Selected audience participation follows]
I think this would be a good time to tell the story of the Bronx Botanical Garden again, because I think that's a really good story for Edward.
Well, I was very shy - scared shitless - and I KNEW it. And I knew it was stupid. And then I blamed myself for BEING shy. So I had two problems. So I made myself, when I was nineteen years of age, go to Bronx Botanical Garden every day for a month. And whenever I saw a woman on a park bench - any shape, form, or size - I FORCED myself to talk to her, talk to her, talk to her.
And I talked to a hundred women, and got ninety-nine rejections - and SHE didn't show up... [laughter]
I got completely over my timidity, and now, for the rest of my life, I've been the best picker-upper of women in the world!
I was shy as a young girl. When I was in college, I decided I didn't like being shy. I used REBT (but it was called RET back then) and a book on shyness by Phillip Zimbardo.
I practiced every day, first making eye contact, then saying hello, then striking up conversations and so on. I stopped feeling so self-conscious.
It worked wonders. Nobody would call me shy now. That was my first success at putting self-help to work and having it make a big change in my feelings of happiness.