In REBT, we encourage you to do homework assignments to give up your shame based beliefs. A shame attack is when you do something which may bring disapproval from observers but which does not harm others, violate their rights, violate any law or endanger you. So for example, if you were to walk down the street singing loudly that might be a shame attack. The more you do shame attacks the more you will see that nothing awful happens if you lose the approval of others and do something, which may be considered shameful. Shame attacks can be liberating and really enhance therapeutic gains. They also help develop self-acceptance.
REBT points out that humans are fallible and sometimes slip back to old habits of holding irrational beliefs. Therefore, like physical fitness, one has to maintain one’s rational fitness or it may very well slip away. This goes for professionals as well as clients because professionals are human too. Recently, I was on vacation in France. While at dinner in Paris a shame attack occurred to me, which I call my “Rolls Royce Shame Attack”. Let me explain.
During dinner, a man pulled up in a beautiful green Rolls Royce and I thought to myself that I have never ridden in such a lovely car. (See the picture of the car below) I told myself that after dinner I would ask this man for a ride. I noted that he was sitting in the bar area of the brasserie and was actually eating with his driver.
Following the meal and a good thirty minutes later, we left the brasserie and I went across the street to photograph this lovely brasserie. As luck would have it, this man returned in his green Rolls Royce and he ran back into the brasserie. Apparently, he had forgotten something important in the brasserie. I quickly took a picture of the car and then of this man running back into the brasserie (see the below photo of the man in the raspberry pants).
I was given a short ride and I exited the car when it came to a stop. I left the car with a sense of satisfaction that I was keeping my REBT philosophy strong and with a sense of pleasure that I had been given a ride by this Parisian man, who had displayed kindness towards an American stranger.
Lastly, I would like to point out that there is another lesson to learn from this experience. Recall that this man had finished eating before I had and I was disappointed that I could not act on my intention to do my Rolls Royce Shame Attack. The lesson to remember is that life is full of strange twists and turns and if you keep your eyes open and if you use Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy to tolerate apparent loses, sometimes you get an unexpected second chance to fulfill your wishes.