The Chief Guest

Posted on June 7, 2008


Note: Thank you for reading this blog post. Please remember that the technique described below will be successful only if you are trained in some degree in existential psychotherapies. I have a Masters Degree in Medical & Psychiatric Social Work and that is how I had the opportunity to learn and practice some of these techniques.


A technique that I have used once too often is the “Chief Guest” game. It best works in a group of 15-20 people. The group sits in a semi-circle and an empty chair is placed in the middle. Each person has to come forth and introduce themselves in the third person, as the chief guest for this moment. So, I would have to go up to the empty chair and say, “Good evening all! It is indeed my pleasure to introduce you to Henri.” etc…

This technique has never failed to show results. I have mostly used it to make people more self-aware, sometimes bringing forth issues of low self-esteem and sometimes asking people to examine if all the wonderful things they said about themselves were actually as true. Whether people agreed or not was never important, that they went home thinking, was the crux of the session.

This evening, my dear friend Roberto grumbled to me that I was coming up with the sulks again and that it was bringing him down too as the conversation prolonged. I was upset, but decided to ignore him…

As I chatted with random people on the internet, I decided to try the CHIEF GUEST technique on myself. I hadn’t done it in a long time. Here’s how I introduced myself:-

“Henri is one of the most amazing people I have ever come across in my life. She is strong, intelligent, creative and resilient. She has learned a lot from her hardships and has overcome even personal battles to emerge into a wonderful friend and professional. She is honest, kind and very giving. She is a wonderful person to talk to during difficult times. And most of all, full of life and the zing in everything. Her capacity to make sense of life and learn from it leaves me and many others breathless. Ladies and Gentleman, let me introduce you to…Henri!”

Even as I finished saying these things…I was filled with a confidence and calmness that I was on the right track. But one thing shook me considerably! There was so much of pride in me as I merely thought of what I wanted to say, that it scared me a little. I realised that even the good things I was doing were getting tainted because they were done with the expectation of returns. I loved, because I want to be loved back. I gave in relationships, and demanded equal if not more from others. I just realised that E.G.O. was making me somewhat of a sulk! I did nice things for Roberto, so somewhere deep inside, I wanted Roberto to do those things for me as well! I wanted Roberto to be ME. Well, if I liked myself so much, then why was I unable to bear the thought of being A.L.O.N.E over the weekend?

My takeaway has been – How can I be the person that I would want to hang out with all weekend, without feeling that it is a curse! If I can be that person, then I am sure Roberto will never think I have the sulks again.

— Henri, June 7th

Posted in: Uncategorized