You're in Charge:
A Guide to Becoming Your Own Therapist
The Art of Self-Observation
Possibly you're feeling
restless. Or you may feel overwhelmed by the demands of wife, husband,
children, or job. You may feel unappreciated by those people closest
to you. Perhaps you feel angry that life is passing you by and you
haven't accomplished all those great things you had hoped to do.
Something feels missing from your life. You were attracted by the
title of this book and wish that you really were in charge. What
More dramatically, you
may feel that you are falling apart. "Can't" concentrate.
"Can't" stop crying. And your appointment with the psychotherapist--
the one your best friend recommended-- is not until Wednesday at
4. What to do?
This book may have something
to offer you, although only you can know--- if you're willing to
take the time to do the exercises and to agree to the proposed self-examination.
The book is intended
for those people who are seriously interested in doing self-therapy,
who wish to grow, and who are willing to take responsibility for
themselves. I'm not against people seeing psychotherapists (of course
not--- that's how I make my living). However, I believe that psychotherapy
is "successful" only when the clients also start learning
to do self-therapy. Think about it: a person spends only one to
five hours a week with his therapist out of the one hundred hours
plus that he is awake. So if he changes or grows during the short
time he spends with the therapist, he must be doing something helpful
for himself during that much longer non-therapy time.
I will never forget
Dorothy, who called me on a Monday in tears and "desperate".
The earliest I could see her was late on Thursday. As strongly as
I believe in the power of the individual to take charge of her life,
I was not prepared for the person who entered my office. She was
not crying,not desperate, and she had sorted through the recent,
harrowing events of her life. She had also made some decisions about
future actions. When I asked her how she had done this, particularly
in view of her state on Monday, she replied, "I was relieved
to know that you could see me and that I wouldn't have to go through
this alone any more. I was so impatient for Thursday that I started
imagining what you would say, how you would analyze my present situation,
and what suggestions you would give me." That's self-therapy!
At best the psychotherapist
is an expert, creative catalyst who will accelerate the process
of self-therapy. At worst, he increases the hopeless/helpless feelings
of his patients by letting them know either subtly or explicitly
that he believes that they "need" him and are incapable
of taking charge of their own lives. (I will be mentioning throughout
the book those situations where I believe individual therapy, group
therapy, and sometimes family therapy would be advisable.) And if
you are currently in therapy, you and your therapist might decide
that this book would be a useful adjunct to your therapy.
The basic tool whose
use is taught throughout this book is the art of self-observation.
Philosophers and mystics, people such as Socrates, Gurdjieff, Krishnamurti,
the Buddhists, and Lao Tsu, have all stressed the necessity for
self-observation or awareness as the first requirement for becoming
enlightened. Self-observation is also the principal road to personal
freedom from the various self-torture trips that we humans are so
adept at taking. It's important to learn the difference between
genuine self-observation and introspection or obsessive, squirrel-cage
thinking. Much of the book will be concerned with making this discrimination.