Dinner for One

“Dinner for One” illustrates how memories, momentary experiences and future expectations influence each other, and how concentrating on negative memories can have a particularly negative effect on future expectations and the very nature of the future. It encourages the listener to distinguish between memories which should continue to be used as a basis for expectations, and those which should be ignored when developing a personal vision of the future.

Last Sunday, while sitting in my consultation room, I thought to myself, “I need to see a therapist.” “But you are a therapist,” said my inner voice, “and this is your consultation room.” “Well, if you say so…” Three glasses were standing next to a half-full bottle of apple juice. I filled up the glasses, and invited everyone to attend a family therapy session; the I of memory, the I of momentary experience and the I of expectation. All three took their seats, and I asked for their permission to drink from each of the glasses in turn on their behalf. I led the conversation. To begin with the three almost got into an argument, because Expectation I believed that no one was taking any notice of him and that Memory I – who had nothing positive to say – was getting all the attention. I asked Expectation I how the situation could be improved, and I asked Momentary Experience I to give his opinion on the relationship between Expectation I and Memory I. I also asked Memory I for his opinion on what had been said, remaining neutral and acting like a good family therapist should. Each of the three had some good ideas. They suggested that a distinction should be made between pleasant and unpleasant memories, and that only the pleasant memories should be used as a basis for developing new and more heartfelt expectations. When everyone was happy and the bottle of apple juice was empty, I thanked them, dismissed them and ended the session. This therapy session had a long-lasting effect on me, and put me in a very optimistic mood…

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