09/03/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

I'm Beginning To Wonder If This Has Something To Do With ME (Part 1)

It's the best one-liner I ever heard in a therapy session.

Before I tell you what it was, though, let me set some background. I saw my first therapy client in 1968, and over the past forty years have done thousands of sessions with hundreds of different people. In all that time I've heard people say just about everything about every subject you can imagine. Of all the profound, disturbing and humorous things people have said to me, a particular one-liner stands out.

A man about 35 years of age, whom I'll call Patrick, consulted me for what turned out to be a single session. First, he told me his goal for the session, which was to figure out why he couldn't have a successful relationship with a woman. He then told me a long and winding tale of numerous betrayals and abandonments by women. He told me he'd been dumped, abandoned and betrayed by more than a dozen women since his teen years. When he finished the story, he leaned forward and told me he had recently awakened to a new insight that he wanted my opinion on. He said, in a tone of utter innocence, "I'm beginning to wonder if all this has something to do with me!"

There are moments in life when the only possible response is jaw-dropping wonderment, and this was one of them. A pattern had recycled more than a dozen times over a fifteen-year period, and he was only now beginning to wonder if it was somehow connected to him! (I learned a valuable take-home lesson for myself that day. I quickly got in the habit of asking myself what patterns I might be recycling that I didn't realize had to do with me.)

Tune in next time see how he stopped the pattern and found himself a good relationship. In the meantime, what's your experience of these kinds of situations? I'd love to hear about some of the patterns you've suddenly become aware of.

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