Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Why you should find your self-conflicts and talk from the gut.

I have been seeing a shrink lately. Well, a psychologist turned "life coach". Except he does not believe in life-coaching. Mantras such as: "what are your goals?", "how are you going to achieve them?", etc, are psycho-babble to him.

He is totally opposed to life-coaching as a means to help people find their goals and achieve their dreams. He thinks people who think like that are "losers". And their life-coaches are snake oil salesmen. (Never mind that I found him by googling for "life coach"; he says it is just a means of advertising himself.)

My 80-year-old shrink/coach believes that the right way is to abandon goals - which are really desires (to be loved, in various forms) - and curtail one's sense of self. What is the self? "A resistive organisation to protect yourself against the vicissitudes of life. It's an ego thing. It's a suit of armour which you've developed to protect yourself against rejection."

The proper goal, he argues, is one in which you are not so concerned with your self. He sees his role as helping his clients to not judge themselves harshly and instead to follow the flows of life.

I am a little confused. I question myself as to why I am paying a high-end sum to see someone who himself seems a little confused. He has full credentials (PhD in psychology); he coaches high-profile clients; but his thoughts are new-agey and rather vague.

We have conflicting worldviews on several counts. For example, he dislikes and suspects religion, I do not; he thinks parents are a screwed-up burden, I do not; and he seems to 'feel' his clients based on psychic affinity, I am not even sure what that means. To his credit though, he has been hammering at me on why I came to see him.

Our second session turned, as I suspected it would, into a shrink-type session. He managed to tease out of me (with some difficulty, he complained) some conflicts I struggle with. For example, the culture-clash between my conservative upbringing and western culture; my struggle with guilt; my willingness to sympathise with victims; my insecurity about myself.

Towards the end of the session he told me "I've been going round the houses, frankly Ahmed", trying to get me to forget my intellectual, reasoned top and look down to see the submerged 90% of me that is all emotions and feelings and wants and fears. It was an interesting affront to all my impro training and I found myself telling him: "you want me to talk from the gut, fine." And without pause I found the self-confident, carefree, this-is-what-i-f'ing-believe pouring out of me. Nothing bizarre, nothing rude, just 'core'.

"Let's have another session and see what we feel about this," he proposed.

So, why should you find your self-conflicts and talk from the gut? Because it will save you some money!

Woody Allen interviewed on his experiences with psychoanalysis in 1971.