Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened. ~Dr. Seuss
They might not need me; but they might. I’ll let my head be just in sight; a smile as small as mine might be precisely their necessity. ~Emily Dickinson
There are a ton of exercises and techniques I have yet to try in David Burns’s When Panic Attacks. I practically carry it with me wherever I go, and I definitely pull it out to work on cognitive distortions (This is All My Fault, I’m going To Do It All Wrong, I Can’t Get Anything Right, I’m so fat).
Smile and Hello Practice is one of the Interpersonal Techniques to counterbalance Shyness and Loneliness. You might not know this, or you may already know this about me, but I’m very shy. In order to make this a more palatable self-assignment, I thought I would do it at one of the funnest places I know, the Novi Public Library.
The instructions go like this: “If you are shy, you can smile and say hello to 10 strangers per day. Use a 3×5 card to record how many people respond positively, neutrally, or negatively. You’ll often discover that people are much friendlier than you expected—unless you happen to live in Manhattan. I’ve tried this in Manhattan and everyone ignored me! Of course, even that can be helpful, because you quickly get over your fears of rejection.” (David Burns, When Panic Attacks )
This was pretty tough. When I was forced to keep my head up, say hello, and smile, it made me think of how much I look away and avoid human contact. So, I only managed eight people. Every person except one smiled and said hello back. Plus–I didn’t count them among the eight–when I was at the self-checkout area with my books, there were two little boys with their Mommy. One turned right around and said to me “Hi!” Well, with that cheery face, what could I do except say hi back, and then his compadre said hi as well. So, if you count the two little guys there were ten.