According to the practitioners of Timeline Therapy, you're not as successful as you should be because you are being held back by emotions you experienced in the past.
Way in the past. Not early adulthood, or adolescence. These practitioners go way back - to trouble during your stint in the womb, or even in a past life.
They contend that these negative experiences can be repressed into your subconscious, where they stifle personal development.
The theories were developed around 30 years ago by the behavioural expert Dr Tad James. He believed that individuals could be liberated from inner pain and self-doubt if they figured out when they first experienced one of the big five bad emotions - anger, sadness, fear, hurt and guilt - and effectively processed them.
Some would claim this is nothing but psychological babble, but the fact is that Timeline Therapy is growing in popularity, not only overseas but here in the UAE, too, where it has an ever-increasing number of practitioners as well as adherents.
One of these is Wendy Shaw, a British former hotel training manager who now works for the Dubai-based life and business coaching company Matrix Training Solutions. I met her in the lobby of the Kempinski Mall of the Emirates Hotel to undergo a quick session. Sitting among the bustle of shoppers, hotel guests and waiters, it's far from the relaxed, calm, couch-lounging ambience you'd expect in a psychological therapy session.
Shaw insists, however, that the surroundings won't distract from the pending mental cleansing. It's her descriptions of previous therapy sessions that spark concern that we might not be up for the journey.
"I had one client who went back to before time began," she recalls. "Another one went to the Ice Age.
"I had another client who was working through anger and she went straight into a traumatic event several lifetimes ago where she was a witch being burnt at the stake. Because it was so traumatic she started screaming out loud," she explains.
We agree that a similar outburst might not go down well in a posh hotel, but forge ahead with attempting to resolve a few anger issues anyway, there and then.
After a thorough background explanation of Timeline, I shut my eyes. Shaw asks me to remember first moving to the Emirates, then leaving school, then an incident that happened at the age of five. She asks me to picture those times, in a line in my mind, and imagine floating way above, looking down at them.
She asks me to remember someone I was angry at, and why I might still be angry. She asks when I first felt anger - before, during or after my birth. "Before?" I say, hazarding a guess. She asked me to imagine the event, asked how I felt about it, and if I felt I could move on. She then asks if it was a past life, or possibly something passed down through previous generations. Not quite buying the concept of past lives, I go for the latter. And this, according to Shaw, is where all my anger stems from.
I have to be honest: when it was over I was not convinced my anger issues had been resolved. But I did feel slightly more serene. And thankfully there was no public screaming on my part.
What surprised me most was, at less than 10 minutes, how brief the session was. Carol Talbot, Shaw's fellow coach at Matrix, says this is normal. "It's all about removing the negative emotions quickly," she said. "There's no point in wallowing in it. But in essence, it's all about tidying up the emotions that no longer serve you in the now."
For more information on Timeline Therapy, contact Matrix Training Solutions on 04 343 2555 or go to www.matrix-training.com.
Follow Arts & Life on Twitter to keep up with all the latest news and events @LifeNationalUAE