The Shadow Knows

I thought my life was pretty great. That was before I embraced the pain

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Illustration by Tomasz Walenta for TIME.

The Shadow Knows. I thought my life was pretty great. That was before I embraced the pain.

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Since the session, I've started picturing the snottier teenage me whenever I felt my writing was retreading easy topics or I wasn't making the effort to try to trick my wife into having sex with me. The only major downside of this tool is that I keep listening to Rush albums. But it helps if I embrace my fears by employing the "reversal of desire," in which, instead of wanting to avoid things I'm afraid of, I desire the pain, yelling, "Bring it on!" followed by "I love pain!" and then "Pain sets me free!" It turns out people will say just about anything if their eyes are closed and they're facing a wall. This tool also helped me with the having-sex-with-my-wife stuff.

I knew Phil's advice was brilliant, not just because he outed my secret worries but also because he kept grabbing index cards and drawing stick figures to explain his ideas. Anyone who charges people huge fees and then hands them stick-figure drawings is living in a world without fear that I want to be part of.

After the session, Phil invited me to a seminar in which his clients, and their friends who couldn't get appointments, meet at Barry's house. As I ate crudits and hummus, I listened to two TV producers compare their salaries. Once the seminar started, we had to close our eyes and yell, "Bring on the pain!" as a group, which is vastly inferior to yelling at a wall since you are unlikely to encounter that wall at a restaurant.

At one point, Barry said, "Intelligence doesn't come from thinking. It comes from doing." So after the meeting, I headed back to the hummus and introduced myself to those two TV show runners. And one of them gave me his card. The tools helped me just like I wanted them to.

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