The "Jealous Guy" and the Empty Chair


This post will be a bit of a departure from my usual style, while still remaining true to themes frequently touch on here such as mindfulness and self-exploration. Perhaps the real departure is that I generally don’t try to be funny. However, I’m in the middle of some heavier writing right now and I need a little lighthearted break.

Those of you who are old enough to remember the old Steve Allen show might recall how he would, to great comedic effect, read the lyrics of the pop songs of the day in a very matter-of-fact tone of voice. I’m going to borrow from that schtick just a little bit with what follows. At any rate, I hope you enjoy it. If it’s not your cup of tea, then please check back in a week or so; I’ll soon be embarking on a totally different long-term project.




Anyway, this is how I imagine the lyrics of John Lennon’s Jealous Guy would read if they were part of a dialogue between him and a therapist using the empty chair technique of Gestalt Therapy. Cue up the song and see how it works! If the video thumbnail doesn't appear on your screen, then you can access it via the YouTube link.





THERAPIST: So, Guy, tell me how this latest episode began.

GUY: I was dreaming of the past,

THERAPIST: [nods] Past times in which you’d felt hurt?

GUY: and my heart was beating fast.

THERAPIST: It sounds like you were aware of what was happening.

GUY: I began to lose control…

THERAPIST: But you hadn’t lost control. That’s an important insight.

GUY: I began to lose control…

THERAPIST: Is there something that you’d like to say to her right now? How about saying it to her as if she were sitting right here in this empty chair.

GUY: I didn't mean to hurt you.

THERAPIST: Anything else?

GUY: I'm sorry that I made you cry. Oh, now.

THERAPIST: Good, go on…

GUY: I didn't want to hurt you. I'm just a jealous guy.

THERAPIST: Well, perhaps you behaved in a jealous manner, but jealousy is not what you are. Tell her about what you were feeling.

GUY: I was feeling insecure.

THERAPIST: Go on.

GUY: You might not love me anymore.

THERAPIST: That’s an assumption. Describe what you were feeling.

GUY: I was shivering inside.

THERAPIST: Were you afraid?

GUY: I was shivering inside.

THERAPIST: It’s okay to be afraid. It’s what you do with your fear that makes the difference. Can you tell her anything more about your feelings?

GUY: I didn't mean to hurt you.

THERAPIST: You’re feeling regretful.

GUY: I'm sorry that I made you cry. Oh, now.

THERAPIST: You acknowledge that you behaved in a hurtful manner.

GUY: I didn't want to hurt you.

THERAPIST: Regret seems to be a big part of what you’re feeling right now.

GUY: I'm just a jealous guy.

THERAPIST: There’s that label again. Do you really mean to say that jealousy is what you ARE?

GUY: [begins whistling]

THERAPIST: Guy, tell me what it means for you to be whistling right now.

GUY: [continues whistling]

THERAPIST: Guy, help me to understand how whistling goes along with your expression of regret.

GUY: [continues whistling]

THERAPIST: [scribbles note regarding possible insincerity, possible self-soothing behavior]

GUY: [continues whistling]

THERAPIST: [scribbles note about possible dissociative behavior]

GUY: I didn't mean to hurt you.

THERAPIST: Yes, I’m hearing regret once again.

GUY: I'm sorry that I made you cry. Oh, now.

THERAPIST: Yes, yes, you BEHAVED in a way that was hurtful.

GUY: I didn't want to hurt you. I'm just a jealous guy.

THERAPIST: [scribbles note about revisiting what it means for Guy to keep labeling himself]

GUY: I was trying to catch your eyes.

THERAPIST: [nods] You didn’t think she was paying enough attention to you.

GUY: I thought that you was trying to hide.

THERAPIST: You didn’t think she wanted to be with you.

GUY: I was swallowing my pain.

THERAPIST: So you didn’t want her to know that you were hurting inside.

GUY: I was swallowing my pain.

THERAPIST: And then what?

GUY: I didn't mean to hurt you.

THERAPIST: So that’s when you hurt her.

GUY: I'm sorry that I made you cry. Oh, now.

THERAPIST: You didn’t know how to tell her about the fear and the hurt you were feeling, so you hurt her instead.

GUY: I didn't want to hurt you. I'm just a jealous guy. Watch out. I'm just a jealous guy. Look out. I'm just a jealous guy.

THERAPIST: There’s that label again, Guy. It might be good for us to explore that further in our next session…


Jealous Guy music and lyrics copyright Lenono Music





Image Credits




John Lennon & Yoko Ono by Jack Mitchell via:




Der Stuhl courtesy Rocafort8 via:





Copyright 2014 by Mark Frank


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