"Am I loosing my mind?" That was the question I began to ask myself as I roomed up and down the multi-level parking lot of St John's hospital in Tulsa. Over the past 40 years I have parked in the St John's lot probably 700 times or more. Upon leaving, never once have I had difficulty finding my car. But recently I found myself wandering around the lot for over an hour with my van nowhere in sight. Had it been stolen? Had I come in Camry instead of the Odyssey and just couldn't remember? I was beginning to panic as I carefully searched one floor then another.
Finally, I found a security guard and sought assistance. He asked me, "Did you park in a "even" numbered lot or an "odd" numbered lot? I had no idea what he was talking about. I told him which entrance I used to enter the parking garage and he then explained, "From that entrance you are parked on an "odd" numbered floor. The entrance from the East would put you on an even numbered floor. The garage is actually built in an "overlapping" manner. If you enter on floor one (from the North), your next floor will be three and your next one will be five!" If you enter from the East you will begin on floor two and your next floor will be four and then six. You are looking on the even numbered floors but your car is parked on the odd." Apparently I had gotten off of the elevator on the wrong floor and began my journey in vain. Even though I could press my key fob and hear my horn honk, I couldn't tell where it was coming from. In essence, for more than an hour I was simply going in circles from one wrong floor to the next.
The lesson became painfully clear: If you start in the wrong place you are going to end up in the wrong place. No amount of hunting, searching, determination, or effort was going to lead me to my car from the place where I had begun my search. In Solution Focused Brief Therapy we call this "getting on the wrong plane." If my destination is Chicago and I board a plane bound for LA, it's going to be a long time before I see the Windy city. The fact is, I will eventually have to get on a different plane.
Solution Focused Brief Therapy is all about first determining our destination, then making sure we are on the right plane (or in my case, the right parking garage floor). If you have started down the wrong path, doubling your speed and effort is not going to get you where you want to go. At the heart of SFBT are conversations that help individuals and couples find their right path.
So, if you are hunting and searching but getting nowhere, please give me a call (918.914.HOPE), I'd be glad to help you find your way.
Dr. Allen Schneider is a United Methodist pastor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist presently serving the Sapulpa and greater Tulsa communities.