This, of course, is not about a piece of furniture: we mentally seat the necessary person on a chair or armchair and start a conversation with him. In what situations would this technique be useful? And what can she give us?
Are you having a hard time getting into a fight with a loved one? Can’t understand someone’s behavior? Do not dare to announce your decision? In situations like this, it can be helpful to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. In psychotherapy sessions, the empty chair technique is often used for this, when the client conducts a dialogue on his behalf and on behalf of his partner, looks at what is happening through his eyes, and the psychologist helps to analyze the experience.
Psychotherapist Ilse Sand, in the book Healing Conversations, explains how you can use this technique alone with yourself, without the participation of a specialist. “This method can be used if you need to answer a question or understand yourself. Voicing an internal argument and understanding what is happening is much easier than scrolling through everything in your head.
When I can’t come to terms with myself and make a choice, I also “seat” myself into two chairs: on one, Ilsa, who wants to give lectures more often, on the other, the one who would manage her time differently.
Sometimes there are not even two chairs, but several – to take into account all the nuances
I also turn to this technique when I need to express feelings for someone else: I imagine this person opposite – and I tell him everything I want. Feelings can be good, but more often they are not. Throwing out unpleasant emotions, I myself am sometimes surprised at the expressions in which I do this, and sometimes I laugh. I love the sense of liberation that comes from angry tirades.
I get rid of the negativity, and often this is useful: it becomes easier to articulate what is wrong and come up with a way to constructively discuss it with the “culprit”. In addition, it is safer to turn to an empty chair: then you won’t have to put up with a person to whom I would throw out futile anger in the face.
When I voice negative emotions, I rarely have the desire to sit in the chair across from me. If the relationship with an imaginary interlocutor is not very important to me (for example, this is a salesman who was rude to me), I often allow myself not to look at the situation through his eyes. But if the relationship is important to me, I, as a rule, gather my will into a fist in order to still sit on the chair across from me and imagine what my opponent is like. In this case, it is also better to pronounce the last remark “for yourself”.
If you don’t feel better, you may have been tempted to explain in too much detail, or you simply haven’t been able to let your feelings flow.
Remember, they are not right or wrong. They are what they are, whether we like it or not. As long as we manifest them alone, they do not harm anyone, rather the opposite. If you scream, for example: “Damn you! I don’t want to see you again!” – then, most likely, you will notice that this is exactly what you want. But the attitude towards a person can improve after you give vent to emotions.
The following expressions can help to truly understand your feelings for the “interlocutor”:
- “I would like to…”
- “It upsets me…”
- “I just don’t have the strength…”
- “It makes me so angry that I want to…”
- “I am afraid that…”
- “I don’t like that…”
- “In my opinion…”
It is important to constantly imagine that on the contrary is another person. As soon as the “image disappears”, remember the details. What, for example, is he wearing? How is it combed? What position is he sitting in? Smiling or looking stern? Don’t forget: if you feel scared, you can move your chair away or make your opponent look small.
Sometimes we tell our friends about the difficult relationship with our mother or partner so much that these stories become meaningless. The empty chair technique will allow you to address the root cause of the problem directly, and you will thus move forward. The same technique will help you blow off steam or make a decision. By moving the dialogue with yourself into reality, it is easier to deal with the problem. Move from chair to chair and express different points of view.