Behavioural Experiment for Social Anxiety – Walking a Banana

I have long heard about behavioural experiment in the CBT. We used to have a guest lecturer in the uni who shared quite a lot different types of behavioural experiments she has done throughout her life as a therapist. One of them that I remember quite well was working with a woman with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), who was very obsessed with hand washing. And in short what they did, was putting their hands into the toilet bowl, reaching the water in it! then what? Without washing hands, they used their hands to eat!!!! It was like OMG, REALLY?! But yes that’s what was done, the therapist was going it with the client, and really, nothing happened afterwards, and the client realized her obsession with hand washing really wasn’t rational (of course this is kind of simplified, you should assume that they have done a lot of work in identifying irrational/negative thoughts, doing relaxation techniques and also discussing the rationale of designing such experiment etc).

Guess what I did today? Hehehe, oh the title tells – I walked a banana in Croydon, London. YES I BLOODY DID IT. Me and Krishna did it together, initially we didn’t quite get into the state, and we were laughing and stuff. But after that we realized we really need to be so serious, so people know, yea we’re serious about it. Believe it or not, so many people looked at us! Some people asked Pei Man (she was following behind us and taking video). Some just stared, some tried to look covertly Haha. We went into the McDonalds, and obviously people were looking. I saw a guy taking pictures of us. I heard the staff saying “people coming with a banana on the string”. At the end a guy approached us and asked whether he could take a picture, even asked for their names and age. LOL. The staff in McD also asked us. We left, another black woman on the street was like “what’s this for?” Another two women walked past and we could overhear them saying “look at these stupid people”. Hahahahaha. Stupid, I kind of enjoy this stupidity!! There were also quite ignorant people, who walked past like nothing happened. In front of the hotel, there were 4-5 teenagers, some just stared at us, while one who was obviously more extrovert approached us, and patted on Bobo (Krish’s banana, and my banana is Nana), although another friend of his almost gave Bobo a big kick!

Okay up to this point you probably going to ask me, why were we doing this for? The idea came from Donald, our lecturer on the hypnotherapy course, who treats people with social anxiety. Oh yea this was one of this behavioural experiments with his clients. The idea is to do something and make people really look at you. In fact some people are often so self-conscious, being worried about what other people think about them, whether they look stupid, look anxious or too awkward etc etc. With experiment of this sort you probably find out the reaction could be quite different from what you think. But even if it was what you think (that “you look stupid”, “you look so anxious”, “you look like an idiot”). Those are just their thoughts! So what?? It’s nothing catastrophic. Let them think what they want.

It’s like people who are overly anxious doing public speaking, worrying they might make mistake. Well okay there are a lot of thing you could do to present your best, but what if you make mistakes? What if… you make a mistake deliberately?? Laugh it off? Chances are you are going to survive it anyway, why worry? This is my way of seeing it, though Don said people can test by making a mistake deliberately and see what happens, see what’s so catastrophic about it. Of course this doesn’t mean that I’m no longer anxious, and no longer worried in public speaking, but when you really analyze your reason of being nervous, rather than focusing on hiding your nerve/anxiety, the results are most likely going to turn up better.

I also forget to mention, at this very same day when Don realized we’re going to do his banana walking experiment, he was also interested in joining. So I gave him a string and he got himself an apple to walk, but that apple fell off. And what did he do?! – he went to a toy shop, got himself a pink piggy soft toy, which could fart if you sat on it – and he MADE the shop assistant showed him how the pig fart in front of a long queue / big crowd of shoppers. Then he put the string on the big pink pig and walked it back……. You probably going to say he’s such a weirdo. Hahaha well he is… not. I suppose it can get addictive, so additive. But to go to shop and ask for certain things to be done, is part of assertiveness training (and other things). And doing all those things can get quite addictive! Well, in fact at the same time you’re also helping your clients and being a problem-solver.

I just have got to say, I have really enjoyed it. And Krish did too – know what? She’s a mum of two, and she was as passionate as me if not more, in stuff like this. Hahahaha.

N.B. The content was first posted at huibee.blogspot.com by the same author.

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