The chair I am sitting on in the therapist’s office is adequate, but I notice that his couch looks much more comfortable. No, I decide, I’ll just stay where I am. The chair will give me a better angle of view on the therapist so that I’ll be more focused on him. I’m hoping he can provide some direct answers for me, and no BS. He has a couple of degrees, so he should know what he’s talking about, right? I have an MBA and a slew of professional certifications, and I certainly know my fields of accounting and finance inside-out.
Before he enters the room, I have a couple of minutes to think about my life. I have an excellent job as a manager in a Fortune 500 company, with a good salary. My wife and kids are great; I couldn’t ask for a better family. I am physically healthy, probably in the best shape of my life due to intense, daily exercise.
I should be perfectly happy.
So, why am I so anxious all the time? Why do I get these strange, panicky feelings that make me so uncomfortable at the most unusual moments? I feel constantly nervous.
It can’t be anything serious because, otherwise, I feel great, and things are going so well. My recent promotion to manager of a large financial department at age thirty-two was a big one, but I can handle that. Hell, I can handle anything if I just put my mind to it. I always have.
The therapist finally finds his way to the room. He’s five minutes late, which is a little annoying, but no big deal if he can deliver the goods. Let’s get this over with and get back on track with life!
He appears to be about my age and, in his dowdy, comfortable clothes and horn-rimmed glasses, he looks like a psychiatrist. He asks about my background, interests, and reasons for seeking therapy. He is asking good questions, which is impressive. Yeah, this guy seems sharp. This is going to work.
Then, to my dismay, he starts down an unusual and totally unexpected path of questioning. Every time I relate something I have done or experienced in my life, he asks me how I felt at that moment.
“And how did that make you feel?” he asks. “What were you feeling at the time?”
I tried to be patient and maintain my composure. I really did.
It struck me as a scene from some sitcom about the clueless psychiatrist, you know, the guy who has all the academic training but no idea what real life is all about. What was I feeling at the time? What possible difference could that make? To me, it’s like asking, “What time was it in China, local time, when that event occurred?” What’s the possible relevance? I actually have a huge number of important things I need to do every day, okay, and I have absolutely no interest in how I feel about any of them!
He continues on and on like this for the rest of the session: blah, blah, blah, stuck like a broken record on the same silly question. What, did this guy just come back from a seminar or something, armed with this new thing where he keeps asking his clients how they feel about stuff?
What a huge disappointment. And what a friggin’ idiot this guy is. I’ll come back to see him for another session about the time when hell freezes over…