Dr.: (Talking to secretary on phone) Send Mr. Jacobs in please.
Dan: (Dan stomps in) Itís 10:04:57! My appointment was for 10:00!
Dr.: Good morning to you too, Mr. Jacobs.
Dan: It was a good morning, until I got here. Why do you doctors think you have to keep people waiting. Donít you realize my time is as valuable as yours?
Dr.: (Hands Dan a cup of coffee) Do you have your notebook with you Mr. Jacobs?
Dan: Yes, I have my notebook. What does that have to do with you being on time for MY appointment? OhÖ I get it. You kept me waiting on purpose, didnít you?
Dr.: Yes, I did. When we first talked last week I got the impression that your anger and impatience were mainly caused by having to wait in circumstances that were beyond your control. Why donít you read to me what youíve written in your notebook for this week.
Dan: (Reading) OK. Last Monday I got stuck at a light behind some jerk who didnít put his turn signal on until the light changed to green.
Dr.: I see.
Dan: By the time he put his signal on there were cars behind me and cars going around us. I had to wait and wait until he could turn before I could get through the light.
Dr.: As I suspected, waiting because of someone elseís error was involved there.
Dan: Then on Wednesday this woman driver (sorry, Doc) stopped dead in the road to let someone out of a driveway.
Dr.: And that made you angry.
Dan: Of course. She was such an idiot! There were only 2 cars behind me. After that the road was completely clear. She didnít have to stop in the middle of the road like that.
Dr.: How long did that hold you up, Mr. Jacobs? Maybe 30 to 45 seconds?
Dan: Thatís not the point.
Dr.: It isnít?
Dr.: What is the point?
Dan: The point is that it was a stupid thing to do.
Dr.: What was a stupid thing to do? Letting the other driver out or holding you up?
Dr.: I see. Then today, of course, I kept you waiting, didnít I?
Dan: Yes, you did.
Dr.: It seems to me that having to wait because of others is a chief source of your anger and impatience, Mr. Jacobs.
Dan: It does look that way, doesnít it?
Dr.: So, tell me what you think you could have done in those situations to try to diffuse some of the anger you were feeling.
Dan: (Angrily) Well, today I could have barged right through that door and demanded to see you on time!
Dr.: Yes, you could have but since that would really not be appropriate can you come up with a different solution?
Dan: (Sighs deeply) I suppose I could have done some of the work I brought along with me in my briefcase.
Dr.: Diversion is a very good tactic. What about the traffic situations?
Dan: (sheepishly) I guess I could have had some sympathy for the person
trying to get out of his driveway. There had been a long line of
traffic in front of us and heíd probably been sitting there for quite a
Dr.: Thatís good. Focusing on someone elseís need is great. What else?
Dan: I guess waiting at that traffic light for an extra 30 seconds really didnít make a whole lot of difference in my day. Maybe I took it a little bit too seriously. I probably should have just laughed at the absurdity of the situation.
Dr.: Thatís good, Mr. Jacobs. Humor can really work for you in tense situations. Itís usually when we take life, and ourselves, too seriously that we get all bent out of shape by situations beyond our control. (takes a drink of coffee)
Dan: Yes, I see what you mean.
Dr.: This coffee is cold, howís yours? (goes to microwave to reheat coffee; stands in front of microwave drumming fingers in impatience.)
Dan: Mine is fine. So whatís the game plan from here, Doc?
Dr.: Well, I think youíve made a lot of progress in seeing the root cause of your anger and impatience. Now for this weekÖ(speaks to microwave Ė come on, come on Ėdrums fingers on counter) as I was saying, for this week I think you should concentrate on diversion as a method for keeping your cool in situations that you cannot control. (getting angry, speaks to microwave again while looking at watch) Come on, come on.
Dan: Diversion. I think thatís good. Iíll give it a try this week.
Dr.: (opens microwave and sticks finger in coffee which is not hot yet. Restarts microwave. Yes, diversion is probably the best tool for dealing with anger and impatience. (very angry now) I canít believe how long this microwave takes to heat up a stupid cup of coffee!
Dan: Would you like to borrow my notebook, Doc?
Copyright John & Joanne Miller, all rights reserved.
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