(My high school friend, “1/2 Ton,” with me in the late ‘90s, as “2 Nice” was stenciled on my jacket)
When initially starting this blog, some of the early criticism I received related to apparent inauthenticity. My written content was said not to carry my voice or represent the person many in my personal life have come to know.
I can’t argue the validity of this analysis. While I understand that the manner in which I write and the way I speak have always been incongruent, I didn’t bring myself into focus in my earlier posts.
Valuing the feedback I’ve received, I tend to use more personal examples and information relating to my subjective experience. This isn’t necessarily easy to do, because prior to the latter part of 2019, at which point I began working for another Austin psychotherapist, I kept a relatively low digital footprint.
Now, and by choice, I share a lot more positive, negative, and neutral material about my life (i.e., stories, photos, etc.). Most of this disclosure serves as shame attacking content.
With the practice of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), shame attacking exercises are used to repeatedly and deliberately seek experiences with which uncomfortable or embarrassing consequences of belief are associated. To better understand how this works, consider the ABC Model:
(A)ction – What occurred
(B)elief – What you told yourself about (A) that resulted in (C)
(C)onsequence – What you felt (emotion or bodily sensation) about what happened and what you did (behavior)
(D)isputation – How you might challenge (D) what you told yourself (B), which led to (C)
(E)ffective new belief – What (E) you can tell yourself rather than using unhelpful or unhealthy narratives (B)
We tend to think in Action-Consequence (A-C) connection terms, concluding that an action takes place and the resulting consequence is because of the event. Because thing A happens, experience C then results.
However, the ABC Model maintains that there is a Belief-Consequence (B-C) connection that more adequately explains how we disturb ourselves. Here’s an example of how the A-C connection is typically thought to work:
(C) – Upset at the mockery, I become embarrassed. Rather than sitting with the discomfort, and because anger is my preferred emotional experience, I become enraged. This consequence is accompanied by a rapid heart rate, sweaty palms, and a behavioral component whereby I retaliate with bitter insults towards the other person.
Though it may be convenient to outsource personal responsibility and accountability to others, what other people eat doesn’t make me shit. Likewise, what others have to say doesn’t cause my shitty experience. The B-C connection better illustrates what actually happens:
(A) – Someone makes fun of me for posting a photo from high school, an image in which I’m wearing a Starter jacket backwards.
(B) – I believe, “People must treat me well and if they don’t, I have to punish them so that the violation won’t again occur.”
(C) – What I believe about the mockery causes embarrassment. Rather than sitting with the discomfort, and because anger is my preferred emotional experience, I become enraged. This consequence is accompanied by a rapid heart rate, sweaty palms, and a behavioral component whereby I retaliate with bitter insults towards the other person.
My rigid demand of others is in the form of “must” and “have” narratives. Generally speaking, should, must, and ought-type commands are what lead to the emotional, bodily sensation, and behavioral consequences we experience.
Using a shame attacking exercise, I intentionally expose myself to the judgment of others so that I may directly address low frustration tolerance (LFT)—my capacity to tolerate and accept that matters in life do not always go my way. This is a step towards building resiliency.
Ergo, I unconditionally accept that my high school fashion is now considered by others to be unacceptable. Rather than defending the irrational belief that causes an unpleasant consequence, I challenge my inflexible attitude and improve my emotional and behavioral outcome.
Shame attacking with a posted photo is fairly straightforward. Herein, I’ll take this exercise a bit further by tackling shame I once experienced in association to a longstanding nickname, “2-Nice.”
In high school, I hung around a group of knuckleheads who were heavily involved in various criminal activities. For the fed who likely monitors my online activity, I’ll issue a brief unique disclaimer.
I am not now, have never been, nor do I foresee myself being a validated gang member, known associate, and/or direct affiliate of any criminal organization. Furthermore, I unequivocally denounce any allegation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act-related activity.
Simply stated, I knew some knuckleheads, they knew me, and the statute of limitations for most activities in which they were involved have long since expired. Nevertheless, most of my homies from that time are either dead or incarcerated, so let’s allow bygones to be bygones.
As the knuckleheads suggested different possibilities, a female untouchable, “Babygirl,” asked, “Why do you even come around here and fuck with us anyway? You’re too nice to be doing what we do.”
With her final statement, my nickname was created. For a number of undetailed reasons, it was stylized “2-Nice.” The Starter jacket I wore, for an obvious reason nicknamed “Jackie,” bore the moniker in Old English—a favored font for many of the Bomb City sets at the time.
I then went by that epithet for a couple decades. It was drawn on various homework assignments, tagged on foreign walls, featured on various military shirts I drew, used as an online handle, utilized as a tactical team designator, and it even served as my DJ name.
(A high school homework assignment with a typical drawing that once was cause enough for a visit from the school resource officer)
(A “2-Nice” throw up in an undisclosed foreign country)
(A military police t-shirt I drew with “2-Nice” embedded in gun smoke)
(“2-Nice,” as a CAPTCHA-style MySpace handle)
(As a member of a tactical team, “2-Nice” was stenciled on my hat)
I used the name 2-Nice with pride, as those who bestowed it upon me were among the most loyal people I’ve ever known and my interpretation of the moniker was meaningful to me. To this day, there are people in various countries in which I’ve lived who refer to me by that nickname.
At this point, you may ask, “Ok, Deric, so why did you indicate shame in association with ‘2-Nice’?” When Babygirl originated the name and others concurred, I didn’t think critically of her statement.
When she said, “You’re too nice to be doing what we do,” I perceived the sentiment as meaning I was merely a nice guy. After all, I used to take the knuckleheads food when they were hungry, as most of them were dissociated with high school due to dropping or being kicked out.
I’d provide rides to various locations, hold contraband for them, and I was prepared to shed blood for each of my carnales. Ultimately, I was fulfilling the duties I thought encompassed what it meant to be a nice friend and a good guy.
It may benefit the reader to know that during the same period I was friends with knuckleheads, I also participated in Vacation Bible School (VBS) activities geared towards entertaining and educating young children regarding biblical principles. I truly believed in the lesson of Matthew 9:10-13.
(VBS participation while associated with the name “2-Nice”)
However, I didn’t think about the contextual meaning of the nickname. For most of my life, people have referred to me as a “nice guy,” or some derivative thereof. In particular, concerning my youth, girls to whom I was attracted would passively dismiss me for being “too nice” to date.
This carried on through my adult age. I lost count of how many times I’ve heard dismissals such as, “You’re too nice and I like bad boys.” I faced a lot of rejection associated with how others have characterized me.
When I practiced photography, mainly shooting boudoir-style content, many of the female models with whom I worked would say things like, “You’re so nice, it’s like you’re a brother to me.” I was a too nice guy who happened to own camera gear and the clientele with whom I chose to work, mostly in the sex industry, saw in me what Babygirl also observed.
(An old logo, referencing my photography enterprise, bearing the name “2-Nice”)
Before learning about REBT, I eventually realized what was being expressed about my character. I disturbed myself when using an A-C connection that resulted in the following:
(A) – Throughout my life, females devalued me as a guy who was “too nice” than to consider for a romantic relationship, though they valued the deeds I performed for them (i.e., buying meals, providing free photography services, etc.).
(C) – Interpreting the name “2-Nice” as that relating to a sucker, I experienced revulsion towards myself. After two decades of unrequited love or failed romantic relationships, each time I heard my nickname I’d sense nausea in my gut. As well, I snapped at some people who continued referring to me by the moniker when I’d asked them to stop doing so.
Dear reader, I’m not proud of how I deceived myself—not solely in association with the meaning of “2-Nice,” though in reference to my use of a flawed A-C connection. Let us look at a proper sorting of the issue, using the B-C connection:
(A) – I was originally given the moniker “2-Nice” and it coincides with how I’ve been dismissed by romantic interests who have said I was “too nice” to date.
(B) – I believed, “I should be respected for who I am, they ought to value a nice guy, and life must be fair in order for me to be accepted; otherwise, I don’t think I can stand this miserable existence,” as the latter part of my belief uses LFT.
(C) – What I believed about my nickname and being “too nice” of a man to date resulted in revulsion towards myself, disgust with others, and insecurity concerning life. I’d feel nausea in my body and I was impolite to friends who continued calling me “2-Nice.”
What I didn’t understand about the B-C connection was how to use disputation of irrational beliefs in order to generate healthier consequences. Moreover, I failed at applying unconditional self- (USA), other- (UOA), and life-acceptance (ULA) in relation to my nickname.
Shame is typically defined as a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. However, I’ll broaden this definition by highlighting that the “wrong or foolish behavior” relates to the use of an unhelpful belief.
We’re about to get meta (self-referential) for a moment. Are you ready? I once experienced shame for using an unhelpful belief about having experienced revulsion associated with an unhelpful belief.
Dipping into layers of self-disturbance can be a messy affair. To interrupt this unhealthy cycle of personal disgrace—fueled by unhelpful attitudes about myself, others, and life—I could engage in a lengthy mental debate.
It may be useful to interrogate who taught me not to accept myself, what makes me think I deserve better treatment, when my insecurity began, where my unhealthy beliefs will take me if continuing to use them, why I allowed an A-C connection for so long, and how much better I’d feel if I behaved differently.
That could be an appropriate use of my time. Still, a much shorter route to alleviation of distress is by use of USA, UOA, and ULA.
Placing a condition on myself such as, “I will only accept myself if others accept me,” isn’t helpful, because if or when others fail to accept me the condition will result in rejection of myself. Unconditional self-acceptance doesn’t use a conditional trap.
Likewise, using a condition for others such as, “I will only accept others if they treat me as I demand,” isn’t helpful, because no one is obligated to treat me in any particular way. Therefore, unconditional other-acceptance foregoes the trappings of a condition.
Furthermore, employment of a condition regarding life such as, “I will only accept life when the process of living is easy,” isn’t helpful, because life is inherently plagued by opportunities to suffer. Consequently, unconditional life-acceptance avoids the pitfall of conditional dependence.
Presently, I acknowledge Babygirl’s assignment of a nickname as that pertaining to inclusion within a group. (Sorry, fed, someone including me doesn’t meet the legal standard for a RICO Act indictment—especially when I’ve already denounced official affiliation. Nice try.)
Babygirl embraced my presence and celebrated me regardless of what critiques I later developed about the name “2-Nice.” Correspondingly, any female who forewent a romantic opportunity with me was well within her rights to do so. I’m not owed a thing.
Moreover, life never made me insecure—I did that. What I believed about others—absent of USA, UOA, and ULA—was what caused suffering.
Therefore, I accept the name “2-Nice.” There’s no shame in it. After all, there are other opportunities for shame attacking if I need more REBT practice.
For example, I could again start wearing my clothes backwards, “‘Cause inside out is wiggida, wiggida, wiggida wack!” What a way to build resilience in the current era!
In this blogpost, I’ve addressed shame attacking, the ABC Model, LFT, and unconditional acceptance. Using a personal anecdote, I’ve detailed how I acquired the nickname “2-Nice,” expanded upon my irrational beliefs associated with it, and demonstrated how I’ve come to accept the moniker.
People may judge me about the content I’ve presented herein. Regarding their imagined evaluations, I approach the matter without shame.
“2-Nice” is but an allusion to who I am, just as conclusions about my blog content reference who others think I am. All things considered, I know who and what I am, and I accept myself unconditionally.
Would you, too, like to know how to practice the REBT method? I can’t promise it will be easy. Nonetheless, it has the potential of helping improve your overall functioning (e.g., warding off shame) and the potential to improve your quality of life (e.g., USA).
If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.
As the world’s foremost old school hip hop REBT psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.
At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!
Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW
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